Monthly Archives: November 2014

26 Stagger Your Stance

Without thinking much about it go ahead and stand the way that feels normal to you. Now take a look at your feet. Where have you placed them? More or less parallel to each other? This is the most common way I see people place their feet when they are standing.

If you have been noticing that you stand with your hip joints pushed forward and you tend to stand with your feet parallel changing up the way your organize your feet in standing may be useful.

Standing with feet parallel provides you with stability right to left but not so much front to back.

Standing in a staggered stance, one foot slightly in front of the other and angled out a bit, provides you not only with stability right to left but also front to back.

To understand this more fully find a friend. First stand with feet parallel and ask your friend to place her hands on the front of your shoulders and try to push you over. Then stand in a staggered stance and ask your friend to try the same thing again. Switch roles so you have a chance to experience this from both roles. You will probably find that it is more difficult to push the other person over when they are in a staggered stance.

If you watch people engaged in martial arts practices you will notice that they very often use a staggered stance and one reason is that it is that much more stable.

Standing with feet parallel and hips pushed forward

Standing with feet parallel and hips pushed forward

Standing more balanced with feet slightly staggered

Standing more balanced with feet slightly staggered

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can still push your hip joints forward in a staggered stance but if it is not your normal way of positioning your feet in standing it might help you to be a bit more aware of where your weight is. You can think of positioning your weight right between the front and back foot right down through your apple core.

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25 Let Your Spine Be Like an Apple Core

If you find you tend to stand with your hip joints pushed forward and your upper back thrown backward you are in good company. As you observe others you will see how ubiquitous this detrimental habit is. Realize that seeing others tends to subconsciously reinforce this is the way to stand. But now that you know otherwise you can be more mindful and attentive to yourself and make some other choices.

Another reason this habit of standing is so detrimental is that with your upper back thrown backward your weight is situated over the back or nerve part of the spine, not the front or support part of the spine.

The skeleton is standing with the weight transferred down through the front part of the spine

Fig 1: Balanced standing-weight transferred down through the front part of the spine

Look at the side view of the skeleton at the right. Your spine starts at your tailbone located a little higher than your sitting bones and between them. It curves its way all the way up to the level of your ears. Pay special attention to how thick the spine is at the lower end (right above the pelvis) at the level of the lower back and abdomen.

If you run your hand up and down your friend’s back you are feeling the back part of her spine. It is important to realize that this is only part of the spine.

Your spine has two main functions—support (discs) and communication (spinal cord and nerves). The discs are located toward the front. The spinal cord and nerves run along the back.

In the illustration the skeleton is standing balanced with the weight transferred down through the front part of the spine (this is the vertical line)

If you are standing with hip joints pushed forward and upper back thrown backward your weight is situated over the back or nerve part of the spine. Ouch!

Standing with feet parallel and hips pushed forward

Here I am standing with my weight thrown backward over the nerve part of my spine. Ouch!

You want your weight centered over the support or front part of the spine. For this reason when I imagine my spine I imagine the support part (the front part). Because the front part of my spine is actually more or less in the middle of my body (look at the vertical line in the illustration again) I like to imagine it like the core of an apple (albeit a slightly curvy one!). I let my weight transfer down through my apple core instead of thinking of the spine like a rod along my back.

apple core

If you remember in post 8 I introduced the term body map—we all have in our mind maps of our bodies and how they work. These body maps include size, shape and function.

What is important to realize is that you will typically move (and sit and stand) in accordance with how you think you are structured, even if your thinking is inaccurate. If your body map is faulty, movement and consequently posture, suffers.

So to help correct your body map of your spine think of it more like the core of an apple, not like a rod along your back.

How you think does affect how you move, sit and stand.

Picture credits: Fig 1: How to Learn the Alexander Technique by Barbara and William Conable