There are many things we do with our bodies that we repeat over and over again, day in and day out, without even realizing it.
There are three postures that might seem easy and more comfortable at the time but they actually put stress on the body and cause tension in muscles that later show up as pain in various places.
Just becoming aware that you are even doing them is a great first step!
Teachers and trainers: keep an eye out for these things as your clients may not even realize these habits are creating pain.
They are very likely to respond to your cues during their workout session but forget as soon as they leave the studio! Encourage them to build the strength so they don’t find these postures so “easy” to fall into. If they get tired from, say standing on 2 feet – that’s okayÃ¢â‚¬¦.. it’s great actually, because it means they are strengthening exactly where they are weak and usually let their body cheat in exactly that spot.
1. Sinking into one hip
Im pretty sure we are all guilty of this!
It feels easier at the time, but actually we tend to do it on the same side more often than not and it creates imbalance in the flexibility and strength of the outer hip muscles, and that imbalance can cause back pain.
Now that you knowÃ¢â‚¬¦..theres no turning back! Just catch yourself when in that position and notice the difference. Imagine your legs are like 2 pillars holding up a building. They are much more stable and balanced when vertical rather than leaning to one side.
To help strengthen for this problem, try this exercise:
Stand on a yoga block or step with one foot. (See photo above on the right.) Let the other foot/leg dangle, but keep your pelvis even, don’t let your dangling foot hang lower than the foot on the block. You will begin to feel the outer hip muscle (glue medius) along with other hip abductor muscles start working. It might actually be more challenging on the side you tend to sink into most of the time. Hold for about 10 seconds at first, and work your way up to 30 seconds. The idea is to feel that muscle working and to feel it evenly on both sides. Do both sides, and then an extra set on the side that felt more challenging.
3. Tucking your pelvis forward
I am always telling my clients to keep their “thighs back” in space when I see them with this posture habit.
This posture causes compression in the lower spine, as well as problems for the thoracic spine, neck knees and pelvic floor because it throws the entire body out of alignment and lots of compensation patterns kick in to keep a person from falling over.
With your feet hip distance apart, keep the toes facing forward and the weight of the body evenly distributed over the arch of the foot. Bring the hip sockets right over the ankle bone (malleolus) and you can lift up through the waist and release some of the pressure that builds up in the lower back area.
Just keeping the hip socket over the ankles will create strength in the core, but just be aware of when you (or your clients) get tired and fall back into the tuck.
Working in front of a mirror helps, but try to remember what it feels like so when the mirror is not there you can still find the optimal placement.
2. Sitting on a tucked pelvis
Again Im sure weve all done this, but its when we spend hours sitting in this position on a daily basis that it becomes a problem, and our bodies begin to get tight in this position that it becomes a risk for back pain and injury.
When this posture is a regular habit it’s usually because of a combination of several factors which might be slightly different for each person.
Tight hamstrings, as well as weak and underused low back muscles, core muscles and shoulder muscles all contribute. To help undo this tightness, strengthening the lower back with bridges as well as stretching the hamstrings.
Heres a video of me doing bridges to strengthen lower back and glutes, and active hamstring stretches.
These simple changes will make a big difference in how your spine feels and moves. Keep coming back for more simple exercises to do throughout your day!