Being told to "stand up straight" probably seemed like a rite of passage in your teenage years, but those nagging adults were onto something. It is essential to have proper alignment for overall good health. Proper body alignment not only helps prevent pain and injury, but can also boost your confidence & mood.
Improving your alignment & posture will likely take some time and conscious effort, but the feel-good benefits are worth it.
What does proper alignment look like?
First there should be a determination on how is your overall alignment. We suggest using the "wall test" to find out: (Healthline)
- Stand so that the back of your head, your shoulder blades and your buttocks touch the wall, and your heels are 2 to 4 inches from the wall.
- Put a flat hand behind the small of your back. You should be able to just barely slide your hand between your lower back and the wall for a correct lower back curve.
- If there's too much space behind your lower back, draw your bellybutton toward your spine. This flattens the curve in your back and gently brings your lower back closer to the wall.
- If there's too little space behind your lower back, arch your back just enough so that your hand can slide behind you.
- Walk away from the wall while holding a proper posture. Then return to the wall to check whether you kept a correct posture.
The Effects of Poor Alignment
Once completing the “wall test” above, understand that ideal posture is often the exception rather than the rule. Poor posture is very common and can affect you head to toe, contributing to a number of problems. These problems include, but are not limited to: (U.S. News Health)
- Headache. Poor posture can strain the muscles at the back of your head, neck, upper back and jaw. This can put pressure on nearby nerves and trigger what are known as tension-type or muscle-spasm headaches.
- Back and neck pain. Pain and tightness or stiffness in the back and neck can be due to injury and other conditions such as arthritis, herniated disks and osteoporosis, but poor posture is a common contributor. Though rarely life-threatening, back and neck pain can be chronic and reduce your quality of life.
- Knee, hip and foot pain. Muscle weakness, tightness or imbalances, lack of flexibility, and poor alignment of your hips, knees and feet may prevent your kneecap (patella) from sliding smoothly over your femur. The ensuing friction can cause irritation and pain in the front of the knee. Poor foot and ankle alignment also can contribute to plantar fasciitis, a condition in which the thick band of tissue connecting your heel to the ball of your foot (plantar fascia) becomes inflamed and causes heel pain.
- Shoulder pain and impingement. Your rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that connect your upper arm to your shoulder. Muscle tightness, weakness or imbalances associated with poor alignment and posture can cause the tendons in your rotator cuff to become irritated causing pain and weakness. A forward, hunched posture also can cause these tendons to become pinched (impinged). Eventually, this can lead to a tear in the rotator cuff tissue, a more serious injury that can cause significant pain and weakness and limit your ability to carry out daily activities.
- Jaw pain. A forward head posture may strain the muscles under your chin and cause your temporomandibular joint (commonly known as “TMJ”) to become overworked. This may result in pain, fatigue and popping in your jaw, as well as difficulty opening your mouth, headaches and neck pain.
- Fatigue and breathing problems. Poor alignment leading to bad postural habits may restrict your rib cage and compress your diaphragm. This can reduce lung capacity, leading to shallow or labored breathing, fatigue and lack of energy, which can affect your overall productivity.
Better Alignment, BETTER LIFE !
Improving your alignment and posture can help prevent or reverse many of these conditions. You'll be amazed to see how your quality of life can improve.
The most basic approaches to improving your posture from the feet up is by using simple stretches to make sure that your muscles and tendons are limber and not too tight. Taking a few minutes every day to stretch your calves, fascia, and other muscles and tendons in the feet and legs can make a world of difference. When your muscles are limber and stretched, you’ll avoid a situation where one group of muscles is pulling another forward or backward subtly, throwing off your stride. General yoga poses work great for overall stretching.
Next, and JUST AS IMPORTANT, is to make sure your feet are properly supported. Your feet are your foundation every time you run, walk, jump, or stand. The impact from these simple daily activities, combined with the weight of the human body can place a great deal of strain on the heel and arch of the foot. Over time, as the body tries to compensate for this strain and pain, gait abnormalities can develop that result in poor posture.
Wearing orthotics can have a tremendous positive impact on good posture, since the way the feet absorb and distribute impact has a big effect on the rest of the body. Quality orthotics help lift the arch to an optimal height and cushion the heel, the feet (and therefore the ankles, legs, hips, etc.) are more balanced, helping you avoid stumbles and falls that can injure or throw any number of the body’s muscle groups, bones, or tissues out of alignment and creating poor posture.
SelectFlex insoles use a patented arch lifting technology called the PowerLift Arch. The PowerLift Arch provides the wearer with 3 levels to support the arch with dynamic alignment with every step. This unique arch technology dynamically lifts your arch into a comforting sine wave motion that provides up to 89% more arch support with every step.