Base-Line Healing


Posture = The Position of your Body.

With a good posture the body is well-positioned and comfortable. A bad posture causes physical stress and pain.

But what is a good posture?

A go-ogle search for "good posture" returns lots of results (and side-view illustrations) but no clear winner in the definition department:

Standing up tall. No slouching when sitting.

Relative positioning of the head and joints.

The correct curvature of a neutral spine.

Alignment of various parts of the body.

i.e. A lot of talk about the skeletal system especially the position of the spine, head and joints, but there is a lack of emphasis on what positions our bones, on what creates our posture - our muscles.

Muscles position our bones.

Muscles create our posture.

Posture can be:

Posture can be improved by consciously working with the right muscles for a sufficient length of time, so that an active posture becomes the passive norm.

The Main Muscles for a Better Posture.

To improve our posture the muscles we should focus on using are the five main muscles of movement:

  1. pelvic floor
  2. rectus abdominis
  3. gluteus maximus
  4. rectus femoris
  5. trapezius

the 5 main muscles of movement

skeleton with the main muscles of movement. Back and side-front views.  The pelvic floor muscles can't be seen from these two perspectives. The rectus abdominis from pelvis to chest. The rectus femoris from hip to shin down the front of each thigh.  The trapezius from mid-back to the back of the head, extending out towards each shoulder like a kite-shaped muscle over the upper back. The gluteus maximus, big ass muscles at the back of the pelvis.

To make improvements to your posture you need to become aware of your main muscles of movement and where they are in relation to each other - whatever you are doing and whatever position you are in. Feeling for balance between left and right sides and increasing awareness of your state of body alignment.

body alignment and balance

When these 5 main muscles are adequately functioning the head and limbs in the correct relative positions, a neutral spine is achievable and the body is balanced and aligned. Posture is good.

skeleton and the main muscles of movement shown from the front demonstrating how they align the body by arranging our midline anatomy on the median plane. The rectus abdominis muscles when fully extended and engaged straighten the linea alba our primary guide for body alignment. The spine, shoulders, hips and knees are all in the correct relative positions and the body is balanced left and right sides.

A neutral spine.

A neutral spine is when the spine is in a natural position, under the minimal amount of stress. All vertebrae are positioned with the correct curvature and can be aligned on the median plane.

the median plane

The skull and spine seen from the back and front.  All vertebrae are vertically aligned so that a straight line can be drawn from head to tailbone through the middle of each vertebra. This is a neutral spine position.

When seen from the front or back all vertebrae in a neutral spine appear completely vertical i.e. they are aligned.

The nuchal and supraspinous ligaments that attach to the posterior (back) of the spine are also aligned.

nuchal & supraspinous ligaments

From a side view, a neutral spine is curved.

The cervical (neck) spine is curves inward.

The thoracic (upper back) spine curves outwards.

The lumbar (lower back) spine curves inward.

The sacrum curves outwards with the coccyx (tailbone) almost on the vertical.

Skull and spine seen from the side demonstrating the curvature of a neutral spine. The cervical vertebrae curve inwards with the nuchal ligament at the posterior. The thoracic vertebrae curve outwards, the lumbar vertebrae curve inwards and the sacrum curves outwards with the coccyx on the vertical.
skeleton seen from the side. Showing the rectus abdominis muscles at the front of the abdomen between pelvis and chest, like a band of muscle that is attached to bone either end but otherwise is not near other bones. These are the muscles that should support the body, not the spine. When the rectus abdominis muscles are fully extended and active the lower spine is positioned correctly and not under undue tension or stress. The rectus femoris muscles run down the front of each thigh, crossing the hip and knee joints. Strong poles of muscle to connect the legs to the torso, aligning the hip and knee joints. The rectus abdominis and rectus femoris muscles attach to the pelvis at the front at approximately the same level when viewed from the side. The gluteus maximus muscles, large and powerful at the back of the pelvis, extending above and below the level of where the rectus abdominis and rectus femoris attach to provide the link between base-line and legs. The trapezius muscles from the back of the head to midback, sculpted muscles that influence the positioning of the upper spine.

For a neutral spine, the rectus abdominis muscles need to be "long and strong", fully extended and taking the strain between pelvis and chest. If the rectus abdominis muscles are not fully utilised the lateral abdominal, psoas and other muscles of the lower back bear the burden which has negative effects on the positioning of the lumbar spine.

The gluteus maximus positions the sacrum, linking the base of the spine to the pelvis.

The trapezius muscles must be free of physical restrictions to allow the correct positioning of the thoracic and cervical spine.

Self-Assessment of Posture.

The body provides a lot of sensory feedback about your posture. Becoming aware of this sensory information is the basis of conscious proprioception (our sense of position motion and balance - the connection between body and mind) so you can feel your posture for yourself.

conscious proprioception

Being able to judge your own posture is more informative and accurate than someone else's assessment. Self-awareness facilitates self-correction of posture.

Focusing on your Base-Line muscles at the center of your body is the key to developing this skill - our core pillar of strength from where the rest of the body extends.

Base-Line muscles

human figure seen from the front, looking up the body with the baseline muscles shown.  The pelvic floor muscles forming a basket at the base of the body.  The solid foundation from where the rectus abdominis muscles extend. The rectus abdominis muscles are like to 2 parallel stacks of panels of muscle that go up the front of the abdomen from base to mid chest. The body's core pillar of strength either side of the linea alba the body's baseline for alignment.

Micro-adjustments in positioning, too subtle to appreciate on clinical exam, can have wide effects throughout the body (everything's connected) which can be felt when the body-mind connection is strong.

Find your Base-Line.

Feel for yourself.

Posture & Movement.

Posture isn't static - we are constantly on the move, and a good posture means we can move well, free and unrestricted, through a full range of natural movement.

full range natural movement

Explore your range of movement, supported by your Base-Line muscles and feeling for balance between left and right sides of the other main muscles of movement.

The roll-down action was my go-to move as I focused on activating and extending my Base-Line muscles. Do whatever feels right to you. The more you work with your main muscles the more progress you will make.

the roll-down

Learning to use the right muscles brings an understanding of what a good posture is. The body feels strong and comfortable. Movement flows easily through a full range of natural movement.

Classifications of Posture.

An Ideal Posture.

With an ideal posture stresses are distributed and dissipated in the best/safest/most efficient manner for the activity being undertaken. The body is as strong as it can be.

There are many disciplines that represent ideal postures, demonstrations of the body's capabilities when it is functioning at optimal. For example:

showing a lot of poses of the body, some asanas of yoga.

A Functional Posture.

A 'functional posture' is what the brain/body uses day-to-day when an ideal posture cannot be achieved. (When the main muscles of movement are not adequately used and physical restrictions are present on the body).

A functional posture at its most basic:

Subconscious adjustments are made throughout the body - twists, kinks, tilts and compressions - as the brain sees fit, using 'mimic muscles' in an attempt to compensate for misusage in the main muscles, but the body is imbalanced and imbalance leads to further imbalance.

Anticipatory Posture.

When faced with a task, the brain/body prepares by activating muscles into an anticipatory posture. "Bracing yourself".

An anticipatory posture should be the ideal posture for the activity - using the main muscles of movement to their full potential - but if that is not achievable the body braces into a functional posture with the use of mimic muscles.

Becoming aware of anticipatory postures and the activation of mimic muscles is important to correcting the dysfunction. Breathing with your Base-Line and focusing on the main muscles of movement will facilitate the correction of bad postural habits that have developed.

breathing with your Base-Line

Keep thinking about how you use your 5 main muscles

of movement to improve your posture.

A good posture means less physical pain.

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