What do you need to know?
1. Since the spine doesn’t have balance and the right curves, bad posture increases the risk of nerve impingement, slipped disks and back pain.
2. Bad posture increases muscle tension and strains, because muscles which aren’t aligned are strained to work harder.
3. Bad posture increases the risk of tearing the joints because they aren’t moving in a natural way which breaks down the tissue and weakens the ligaments which leads to risks of injuries.
The Brain Muscle Connection
Do you know that you can’t actually control your posture? This is why our parents have always told us to “stand straight”.
The subconscious part of the brain controls our posture, the same as heartbeat, breathing and balance, which is the reason why we can’t “try harder” to improve our posture. In order to change it, we must change the way our brain comprehends what perfect posture is.
According to the most popular theories, every single one of use has specific proper biomechanics. This is combined with a movement called “length tension relationship discrepancies”, which is a phenomenon that refers to the dissimilarities in tension and length which can be estimated in one’s muscles. Some muscles can be called “weak and long” because they can’t fully contract, and other muscles can be called “strong and short” since they’re always under tension.
So, the “length – tension relationships discrepancies” play a big role in movement and posture. But in which way do they lengthen or shorten? How does the body create this?
This is where neurology steps in
Scientists have found more and more reasons why the afferent system is important for the posture like for the way we move, and how we create tear and wear in our body in the long run.
Our bodies sensory systems rely on two kinds of captors: interceptors – captors gathering information from inside our bodies and exteroceptors – captors evaluating the information from outside the body.
The foot is the most important one of the exteroceptors. The free nerve endings in the plantar fascia and the skin of the foot, send information to the brain in terms of weight distribution which then allows the body to resist against gravity.
The ankles and the feet are the foundation of our bodies, which means that any kind of functional or structural problem with them can increase the risk of injury to the hips, lower back and knees.
Posture and Performance
If the body is out of alignment, even a little, all of the joints have an incorrect position in a compensatory pattern. This leads to contracting the joints with less force.
Did you ever have a weaker side of your body on a certain exercise or movement, even if you performed the exercise on the dominant side?
If the answer is yes, it means that the joint is out of alignment. The mechanoreceptors which surround the joint send inhibitory signals to the brain, which then prevents the muscles from firing as many motor units in an effort to avoid injuries. The brains perceives that the joint doesn’t function properly and could be unable to handle heavy weights. The surprising fact here is that this is only true in relation to the other, better aligned side.
Which means that a strong person like a power lifter or a strongman competitor can lift incredibly heavy weights and still be out of balance and prone to injuries, and not because of the movement but because of postural imbalance.
Here is an interesting experiment to try at home if you are unconvinced of the need to be symmetrical:
- Stand barefoot on a flat ground with someone facing you. Have the other person raise their arms parallel to the ground and extend the wrists with the palms facing you.
- Take one of your partner’s wrists firmly in your hand, while trying to bring their hand into flexion with your other hand. Progress slowly and avoid yanking on the hand you’re testing. Do this for both hands and notice the level of strength you need in order to break your partner’s resistance.
- Put 5 sheets of paper under your partner’s feet and then reevaluate your strength. You will probably see that the wrist on the elevated side is weaker.
So, to conclude, even a slight inconsistency in the symmetry of the body can affect the functioning of the joints and its surrounding muscles. This can seriously affect performance and increase the risks of injuries.
It is said that talent prevails in sports, but it’s also true that any athlete needs to have a correct postural alignment in order to fulfill their potential.