Backbone and Wingspan features movement-oriented exercise and
mindful imagery to help people gain stability and deep core strength
in order to help heal themselves from discomfort.
"Power Sitting" Posture Clinic is scheduled for
Monday, July 20th, 2009 from 6-7 PM.
This is the first in a series of recaps on the original clinic.
Here are some comments written by
attendees of the first
"Power Sitting" Posture Clinic
held at Backbone and Wingspan after
we posed them some questions......
What attracted you to a clinic named
"Power Sitting" Posture ?
"I sit at a desk for about ten hours a day and thought this would help me to sit correctly."
"Was told [by a physical therapist] to work on posture and sitting 'right' to deal with
lower back pain."
"Because everyone suffers from this -
really should be taught in every office in the world."
Backbone and Wingspan Reflections:
Posture is not static positioning.
People think of posture as something that must be done "correctly" or "right" - one attendee told me that her physical therapist had told her to remember to have "good posture" in between sessions.
Ergonomics (which has become a buzz word in the workplace) is the applied science of human use, not the science of a chair that's going to position you "correctly."
Healthy sitting in the workplace is as much of an issue about your adjust-ability as the adjust-ability of your monitor or mouse pad or special-order adjustable desk chair from the human resources department. Posture that will help you to do your desk work with less discomfort is not about your work station being adjustable to you. It's about your own body's adjust-ability.
So well then, " What is good posture ? "
One attendee stated, "Sitting up straight!"
It's more important to feels like you're really grounded through your feet and sitting down through your sits bones than it is to think of "sitting up."
A good thing to do is to find your sits bones with your fingers to that you can then feel them on the seat beneath you.
And, no part of the spine is straight - it has three curves, that when directed to extend in those natural curves will give length to the body and space between the vertebrae, to inhibit the slouching of the shoulders or slumping of the lower back.
There is a perfectly straight line of force that goes from the top of the head down to the pelvic floor when the spine is well-extended in both directions, but if you try to fix a slumping lower back by straightening that part of the spine, you actually deprive those vertebrae of being able to lengthen.
Another attendee related,
"Holding yourself with your stomach muscles."
Fitness teachers and exercise professionals hear many times from clients or other people we meet that patients are often told by a doctor that they should strengthen their abs in order to correct lower back pain and other back issues.
People really need more specificity about how their bodies are constructed and more elaborate information about how to access muscles that relate to support for the underlying skeletal structure in order to grant them support for the spine.
Often people who are told simply to "strengthen their abdominal muscles" in order to better support their posture or to "do ab exercises" in order to gain the abdominal support to ease low back pain. People often take this to mean that they should perform crunches or sit-ups, which they either have an aversion to doing or - worse - that they overdo in a faulty way.
Your abs - in a way -
actually are your back.
The deepest of the four layers of abdominal muscle is actually part of the lower back area.
The transversus abdominis spreads wide off either side of the back of the lumbar vertebrae before it wraps cylindrically around to the front over the navel area.
"When you think about what the word 'crunch' implies, you really get a good idea of what those types of exercises are doing to your muscles, your body and your back," says an expert instructor.
You can find much more gentle ways to work your abs - and really - the more gentle approach isn't just going to be more safe than counting off a hundred mindless crunches or suffering through a series of leg lifts at the gym - the gentle approach will give you the focus to mindfully deepen into discovering your deepest layer of abdominal support.
You can begin to activate the support of the transversus abdominis with your own hands while standing or sitting.
You can see in the photo to the right that the woman is using her fingers to spread the area on either side of her lumbar spine.
Try this yourself. You may get some immediate, however, subtle low back pain relief just by doing this widening of the tissues and separating the right from the left off of the central spine.
This is very different than what alot of people often do to themselves when their backs are achy which is to push the lumbar vertebrae forwards and backwards, which can actually exacerbate the problems that are causing lower back discomfort.
If you widen the area on either side of the spine you are making room for the vertebrae to subtly lengthen in between, and you are also starting to understand how the deepest layer of the abs works - which is transverse - meaning crosswise.
"Exercises that help us lengthen our spine also help to strengthen our abdominal muscles. This helps to flatten abs while opening up the ribcage, which can ease breathing and promote other healthy benefits."
One of those healthy benefits is better postural support for the entire spine.
One of the simplest things you can do for better back support is to lay down and put your feet up. You may not be able to do this during your work day, but you can certainly take fifteen minutes at the end of a long day to lie down and breathe and to rest your tired feet on a stability ball or an upholstered chair.
Support for the spine doesn't have to do solely with the abdominal muscles, but with the deeper core, which is actually a group of muscles attached directly to the spine. Part of this group is called the psoas which is attached to the front of the five lumber vertebrae and also connects the legs to the torso through its attachment to the inner thighs on the inside of the femur.
Pictured here is an extended leg bridge using a stability ball, which not only increases your chances of using the deep abs, but also helps to connect the heels to the hamstrings for better postural support when standing and walking as well as when sitting.
Relating this kind of elaborate information that more deeply informs your physical support is exactly what Backbone and Wingspan is all about: teaching more detailed information about the body while leading you through movements chosen specifically for better support of your spine.
Backbone and Wingspan
founder and owner and author of
Body Mind & Spine Align
can be reached at 212-647-8878