Friday, December 28, 2007

Warrior Fitness -- Posture, 5

The gentle curve of your lower back allows your center of gravity to rest above your legs. Without it, maintaining your balance would be a constant ordeal. You would have the same problem as dogs & other animals trained to stand in an upright position, for whom it is neither easy nor comfortable nor natural.

The curves of your upper back and neck keep the head and thorax positioned above your center of gravity. Over time, however, you have probably let your head sink down "into" your neck, turning that gentle curve into an acute angle. It was to this problem that Frederick Matthias Alexander (1869-1955) directed his attention.

The Alexander Technique (as I understand it) seems to focus its efforts on these vertebrae with the idea that if you correct bad habits in this region, corrections in the lower spine will follow. While I only endorse Mr. Alexander's ideas reservedly, I think the upper spine is a good place to start, and I will borrow one of the techniques associated with his system.

Stand or sit comfortably with your back unsupported. Now, visualize a strong steel wire or cable attached to the center of the top of your head. Let it pull your head straight upward as you relax your back and shoulders. This upward pull will restore the gentle curve to your cervical vertebrae that God designed them to have.

Shoulders should hang loosely, and you should not think of this posture as a rigid one that you must maintain at all costs. It is simply the home position from which your spine departs according to the demands of mobility, and to which it returns at rest.

I wish I could tell you that I have mastered this technique, and that it has become a habit, but I have not yet reached that place. When my back is sore or tired, though, I often recognize my poor posture and correct it with this visualization. It usually brings immediate relief.

No comments: