We have become a seated society from sitting at desks at work to relaxing at home in front of the television, computer, video games and so on. Our bodies conform to positions we spend the most time in. As a consequence, many people neither stand nor walk correctly. With this in mind, let’s talk about how to sand and walk correctly to avoid your body breaking down prematurely. Dr, Kelly Starrett, author of Deskbound, has developed what he calls a “bracing sequence” to correct this problem. There are four steps to be followed in the bracing sequence.
Step 1: Set your pelvis in a neutral position. Your feet should be directly under your hips parallel to each other, in other words, pointing straight ahead. Squeeze your glutes like you are trying to hold a coin between your butt cheeks. This sets your pelvis. If you imagine your pelvis like a bucket, you don’t want too much arch in your lower back, thus pouring the water out the front, or too little lower back curve, thus pouring the water out the back. The pelvis should be level. Then, keeping your feet planted against the floor, screw your hips in to the ground by slightly turning your knees out without letting your feet move. Your left leg is turned counter clockwise, your right leg is clockwise. This stabilizes the hips and pelvis. It also sets the arches of your feet in to a stable position. Use just enough tendon in the glutes to maintain the position. In other words, match the tension to the load or activity.
Step 2: Balance your rib cage over your pelvis and brace the position. The glutes and hips remain activated while you breathe deep in to your belly. Exhale fully. No shallow breathing or chest breathing. Pull in to your stomach, it should inflate and deflate like a balloon.
Step 3: Set your shoulders by by screwing your shoulders backwards until your palms face forward from a position of facing your thighs. You should feel like you are spreading your collarbones. Don’t allow your rib cage to flare or tilt.
Step 4: Set your head in a neutral position, which means you balance your head over your shoulders while gazing straight ahead. Your goal is to align your ears over the center of your shoulders – which is over the center of your hips – which is over the center of your ankles. Allow your forearms and hands to relax while shoulders are still screwed in and thumbs pointing forward. This bracing sequence needs to become your standard posture which can only occur through perfect practice because practice makes permanent.
As for your walking mechanics, current logic is 10,000 steps per day. I see many people wearing the bracelets that count their steps. Good, but your steps need to be perfect. Walking poorly just reinforces poor body mechanics which in turn causes the body to start breaking down somewhere. Your low back shouldn’t hurt after walking a mile, your feet shouldn’t hurt, bunions or weird calluses shouldn’t be forming. Keep in mind when walking:
- Keep head neutral, gaze focused straight ahead, and chin parallel to the ground
- Keep shoulders stable, the position from the bracing sequence
- Slightly tighten your trunk
- Gently swing arms from the shoulder with a slight elbow bend
- Thumbs are pointed forward to help keep shoulders neutral
- Glutes are activated as you finish your stride
- Bend the knee of your rear leg slightly
- Keep your knee straight as you shift your weight over your front leg
- And as always keep feet pointed straight ahead.
Incorporating the bracing sequence and correct walking pattern goes a long ways towards a healthy lifestyle and movements that aren’t breaking the body down.
In our clinic, I see many people duck walking, knees collapsing in towards the midline, collapsed arches, forward shoulders and heads, and general poor conditioning. We need to move more, but just as importantly, we need to move correctly. Good body mechanics helps prevent body breakdown. Poor mechanics leads to the body breaking down over time. The only question becomes when it will break down. So start trying to clean up standing and walking mechanics and know it won’t be accomplished overnight. It is a lifelong journey, with the first step starting with you.Read More