We in modern society have forgotten how to use our bodies. We suffer a lot of aches and pains because of that. The good news is that we can heal most of the neck pain, planter fasciitis, back pain, repetitive stress injuries and more. We can do it simply by going back to our primal posture and truly natural ways of bending, sitting and walking. It is in our scope to relearn how to use the correct muscles for what they were actually designed for. Many of us use lesser muscle groups to do tasks that are really meant for a larger under-utilised muscle group.
idea of learning proper posture can be a bit daunting. It is almost like learning a new language. It takes time, practice and a bit of patience. But you can start to see results from the get-go, if you just start now. So, here is what I thought I might do, I’ll give you bits of information in this and upcoming articles. Little titbits that you can start to use in your journey towards better posture.
I will start by addressing a common problem that I observe daily when I see people out walking. It’s the same problem that has contributed to many of my massage clients complaining of knee, hip and back pain. The posture problem I am referring to is walking with the legs internally rotated. This can cause a misalignment in the body. If you look at the photo, you will see a version of this. As the knees come in, the upper body sways causing a great deal of unnecessary movement. There is a lot of shifting side to side when there needn’t be. Walking should be smooth and driven from the gluteal muscles and not jarring the body with every step. Internally rotating the legs not only misaligns the leg, but it inhibits the use of the gluteal muscles.
Here is an exercise that you can do to help you address your gluteus medias muscle. This is the muscle that you should be engaging to drive you forward in your stride as you walk. It is also an external leg rotator.
Wake up the Glutes for walking Exercise: 1. Start from a standing position with your feet relatively close together. Now move one leg forward. As you do this, keep the heel of the stable foot down on the ground and your hips facing forward. You should feel the upper buttock muscle (gluteaus medius) engage. You will also notice a nice stretch in the calf muscle of the leg that is not moving. If you do not feel it, try straightening the back leg and moving the front leg a bit further forward while keeping the back heel down. 2. Now move that same leg that you just moved forward, back behind you. You should feel the glute engagement shift to the other side. Try this movement backward and forward on the same side until you can really feel your glute muscles engage. 3. Do the same movement on the other side. See if you notice one side engage more easily than the other or if they are both the same. If you feel like one side is stronger, then you know you need to pay a bit more attention to the weaker muscle to get it activated.
After you have done this exercise, try walking and see if you can locate that same muscle to help move you forward. You can try walking uphill. This will help you find these muscles more easily. Using the gluteus medias in walking helps strengthen these muscles and gives you more control in your stride and landing. It also helps externally rotate the legs and stabilises the entire movement of the body in walking.
Have fun with this. If you want to learn more, I will be teaching a free posture workshop on July 29th at 6pm at the neighbourhood house. There is a maximum of 16 people, so sign up soon. You can either call me on the number listed below or go to www.gokhalemethod.com and sign-up online.
Article written by: Michelle “ Mickie” Ball, Gokhale Method Teacher and Massage Therapist. 0428 223 271 • Email firstname.lastname@example.org