Posture & Joint Health:
By: GS PCC Greg Morris
In my opinion (which my mother assured me matters), improving posture and the health and range of one’s joints should be one of the primary goals of one’s training, and one of the main metrics used to measure progress in one’s training. A lot of the daily aches and pains we experience as a culture, basically, are usually related to your joints being a bit out of position. All the time. Every day. We are a society of shortened hips and shoulders forward and in our ears. Our body will give us pain to represent that, and our movement will adapt and compensate to represent that.
Think of a movement like this: You and three friends are carrying a VERY large dresser. This dresser is so large and heavy that you could not fathomably lift and carry it without the four of you. Somebody starts to dip and shift; their grip is giving out. The whole dresser shifts and wobbles, and the other three movers scramble to adjust and COMPENSATE for the one who is out of place, inevitably exerting themselves harder and moving much less efficiently.
Conveniently, there are also four major joints (or should I say, movers) to worry about in most movements, being the two hips and the two shoulders. Take the same metaphor of moving the furniture, and apply it to your joints. Pay attention, and intentionally be conscious of your hips and shoulders while performing any movement, be it a squat, a deadlift, a lunge, a press, a sprint, etc etc etc. If something moves out of position, something else is picking UP the slack; That hip gets behind you. That arm refuses to go overhead. it’s only a matter of time until whatever is carrying that extra weight gets sick of that shit, at which point you put yourself at risk of injury.
Posture is a very important topic in this conversation regarding joint health and function, due to the fact that posture is the composition of the joints as a whole. How your joints are aligned, and how they operate with each other during the basic day-to-day operation of the human vehicle we call the body. Whether you’re an everyday person, an athlete, anybody at all; everybody benefits from paying a bit more attention in their daily existence to how they hold and present themselves.
After all, the sad truth of the matter is that even if you do all the corrective work and exercises in the gym, every time, that’s still just an hour a day. You’re still going to get more reps of living in poor posture and position throughout the other 15 hours of your day unless you’re dilligent.
Posture is the perfect measurement. If your posture improves, proprioception improves, making you more able to feel where your body is in space, as well as more able to move and manipulate it in that space. This happens due to the way that the CNS (central nervous system) and the joints communicate. If your joints are out of alignment, you more than likely have underlying hyper/hypotension issues in the tissue around them (and possibly other underlying dysfunction) from large amounts of time compensating for poor movement mechanics and lifestyle. If your tissue is too angry or too lazy, the communication between it and the CNS is weakened, and you cannot ‘feel’ the tissue as well as you normally would be able to; This is decreased proprioception. If the CNS and the tissue can’t communicate well, it will take much more effort, physical expenditure and CNS strain to accomplish the same task than if tissue and joints were in a more healthy, optimal arrangement.
In simple terms, the more comfortable your joints are in the range of motion you’re moving, the less taxing that movement will be.
At the end of the day, our goal in training should be improving one’s performance, yes, but also one’s life in general. Yes, adding 40lbs to a squat is great, but if we’re not focusing on improving the mechanics and posture of our body while we do it, are we not just forcing our body into ‘stronger’ dysfunction?
Now we’re just getting really good at moving really shitty.
Neglecting one’s basic body structure is a fast track to being the old coot who can no longer move in the basic ways a human being moves; hard to move, hard to play, hard to live. The primary goal of one’s training should be to improve the capabilities of their own human vehicle.
-Improves joint stability
-Improves joint mobility
-Improves physical endurance of tissue
-Eases strain on CNS and tissue
-Improves movement mechanics
Posture is your baseline, and your golden metric. Stand up tall, and free up those knotted joints. All it takes is a little dedicated, and intentional effort on the daily.