Centerworks Blog

Latest "Posture Improvement" Posts

Shoulder Tension, Stress, and Shivering: How Winter Weather Affects Your Health

Shoulder  Tension, Stress, & Shivering

Have you ever thought about relationship being cold has on the amount of shoulder tension and neck stress you’re holding onto in your body?

If you’re in a colder climate do you seem to feel worse in the Winter, and not-so-bad in warmer months?  Are you one who usually blames the stress of the Holidays for your neck and shoulder pain?  Lack of sunshine might not be the only reason your body is feeling more tight and achy than usual.

This year it has seemed quite a bit chillier here in Kansas, and maybe that’s why I’ve noticed how the winter weather is effecting shoulder tension. It seems a lot of my clients are catching on to the connection too.  The body’s natural reflex response when cold is to shiver.  These little micro, muscle contractions are designed to create heat and energy to keep us warm, maintain our internal body temperature.  These micro, muscle contractsion are a great reminder that hypothermia might be where we’re headed if we don’t do something soon to warm up. However, in the process, we end up creating lots of internal shoulder tension we might not be taking the time to clear out of our system.

Think about it; If you just sit in your chair reading this and “pretend” your cold, how does your body react?  Do you slouch more, trying to curl up in a fetal position?  Did you draw your shoulders up and forward around your ears?  Did you head drop even farther forward off your neck?  Did you slump into the pelvis and collapse the ribs and back?  Did you start shivering a bit while you were “pretending” to be cold?

Here’s the thing… If this is what happens when you’re “pretending” for only a minute, how long are you hanging out in this awkward poor posture position throughout the day? Or, for days on end? But what if we hang on to this awkward, poor posture position throughout the cold winter months? Aren’t we just reinforcing bad body alignment and creating chronic neck pain and shoulder tension?

Awareness is the first step in taming winter neck and shoulder tension.  Pay attention to your posture, because there’s a very good change that YOUR posture habits are creating the problem!

Is it possible to just never be cold so you don’t shiver? Probably not. But knowing that the posture you put yourself in while shivering is wreaking havoc on your health, means that taking the time to bundle up to stay warm when you’re outside is important, and taking a little extra time to “undo” the effects of shivering will do your body worlds of good to help keep your neck and shoulders happy and stress-free through the winter while we await warmer months.

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Have you taken my quick Posture Quiz?  Improve body awareness for better posture to help get those shoulders down away from your ears.  For more low center support (and fitness for whole-body health) get a copy of the e-book The Pulse-Power Daily Dozen – 10 minute Workout.  The Pulse-Power Daily Dozen exercises are easy-to-learn, and great for a warm-up, cool-down, or as a stand-alone quick whole-body conditioning program to deepen your mind-body connection and help you get more from your core to help keep your shoulders away from your ears to reduce shoulder tension.

Posted by administrator in Functional Movement, Posture Improvement.

Pilates Quote: Poor Posture Habits

Do you have good posture, or poor posture habits? How fine is your spine? Do you stand and sit tall with everything in line? Or do aches and pains cause you to be out of line?

Practice ears over shoulders, shoulders over hips, good abdominal support, with well-balanced natural curves of the spine. Keep your shoulders relaxed with a long tall neck…and BREATHE!

Your office chair, your couch, the seat in your car… at the dining room table, sitting in a pew at church – anywhere you are stay consciously aware of YOU, your body, how you sit, stand, and move.   Your posture habits will either set you up for good health or injury! Pay attention and practice good posture for better whole-body health.

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Take the Centerworks® quick Posture Quiz Now…

Posted by Aliesa George in Posture Improvement, Quotes.

Pilates Quote: Good Posture

Good Posture, something we know we really should work on, but seemingly insignificant to pay attention to until our body hurts.  Why isn’t it possible to just have perfect posture?  Because maintaining good posture takes effort.  We have to maintain balanced muscle development to support our bones and our bodies for better body alignment.  Without using our muscles to fight gravity, gravity will win every single second of the day!  You have to think and stay conscious of your posture and movement habits to maintain good posture.

Moving with grace and ease should not just be reserved for dancers.  Every BODY can thrive, stand tall, and enjoy effortless movement when good posture and balanced body development is focused on for during every exercise and activity throughout your day.

*** Take this quick Posture Quiz and see where you rate for Good Posture.

Posted by Aliesa George in Posture Improvement, Quotes.

Pilates Quote: Good Posture

Good posture is not important for posture’s sake but is necessary to maintain good working order for our joints, muscles, and vital organs.  By becoming aware of our daily life habits and what our posture habits are like to stand, sit, and move, we have the opportunity to fine-tune our form and improve function.

Good posture habits involve the use of our muscles to fight gravity to stand tall, breathe deeply, and move with grace and ease!  We need SPACE to move – Joint space to bend our limbs, run, jump, and be active.  And inside – organ space for our heart, lungs, digestive system and other vital organs to function optimally.

Whether you’re 5 or 95,  by paying attention to your posture you can ensure that you’re developing the right balance of strength and flexibility to “stand tall” and maintain excellent whole-body health.

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Take the Quick Posture Quiz now and find out how your current posture rates, and discover simple training tips to keep you standing tall.

Posted by Aliesa George in Posture Improvement, Quotes.

Natural Posture is Key to Improving Whole-Body Health

old man with pipe

Everybody knows that posture is important, but we don’t always know what we need to do to improve things. 

Posted by Aliesa George in Links to Interesting Articles, Posture Improvement.

Helpful Strategies To Reduce Back Pain and Improve Posture

According to the American Chiropractic Association a staggering one-half of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year!

Back pain is one of the most common reasons to miss a day of work, and in most cases the cause of the pain is mechanical – meaning poor posture, muscle imbalances, strength, flexibility, and faulty bio-mechanics are the reason we hurt.

In the US $50 billion, or more, is estimated to be spent on back pain!  And experts believe that 80% of people will experience a back problem at some point in their life.

Manipulations, massage, acupuncture, pain pills, back braces, shots, and surgery  all have their place and can be utilized to alleviate pain or manage chronic back problems.  But if you were given the choice to  invest your hard earned dollars in something  that provides only temporary relief for back pain, or instead invest in gaining the knowledge, strength, flexibility, and fitness to manage your own health to enjoy a pain-free and active life without pills or potential surgery, which would you choose?

It seems that most people these days are looking for a “quick-fix.”  In today’s fast-paced world, nobody wants to stop, yet back pain is the number one reason for a missed day of work.  And how easy is it to just ignore the pain and continue on?  What’s your mood like?  How do your eating habits change when you hurt? How much sleep are you able to get every night?  How is this affecting your relationships? How about your “fun” or recreational activities?  What becomes your #1 focus in life?  Is it feeling and dealing with back pain?  How many hours, minutes, and seconds is your brain saying – “ I wish my back didn’t hurt.”  “I’ll do anything to stop this pain.”   How much money and time are you willing to invest in solving the problem and getting the pain to go away for good?

This past June I met Rosie, she commented that she’d injured her back during an exercise class in April and had been afraid to exercise ever since.  It hurt to stand, sit, walk, and move.  She thought she’d just wait, rest, and hope that it got better, but almost 3 months later things still weren’t resolving…  She didn’t think it was a big enough deal to go to the doctor, and sooner or later it would be fine  Well when we hurt do we want to feel better sooner, or later?

Usually it’s the desire for sooner, which is why a pain pill, shot, or surgery seems like a good option.  I believe that a contributing factor to chronic pain and problems, is because we are patiently waiting for “later”  and in the process, create so many compensation habits for movement, that we actually contribute to keeping our bodies in pain.

I’m all for a great manipulation.  Chiropractors, Osteopathic Physicians, and even a great massage therapist or body worker can do us a lot of good to relive stress, and help balance and re-align the body, but what are YOU doing to keep the right muscles strong, and joints flexible to maintain great posture, muscle balance, and good bio-mechanics for functional movement?

You can get some pretty amazing results quickly for better body support with the right exercises, knowledge, and expertise.  And of course putting these new and improved posture and movement habits into practice during your daily life activities as well as during your workouts will ensure that back pain becomes a far, distant memory, rather than something you have to deal with everyday.

Our bodies were designed to move.  There is nothing that makes a body feel better than physical activity.  Do you realize that the human body has approximately 206 bones in our skeleton.  That’s a lot of levers to hinge, bend, and articulate for healthy movement.  The muscles that are attached to these bones contract and release which is what supports the body for good posture, and what moves the body to walk, run, sit, stand…everything we do.

There are approximately 650 muscles in the human body.  An exact number is difficult to pinpoint, as some muscles are not always present, and some sources group muscles differently.  But regardless, that’s a lot of parts and pieces to keep in balance and control for good health.

If you think about it…  if even one small bone is out of alignment in your foot (there are 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than a hundred muscles, tendons, and ligaments  in each foot) it will affect not only the proper muscle action at the foot, but will create compensation patterns for every other muscle group in your entire system.  It’s possible that your back pain may be directly related to a problem all the way down at the bottom of your foot!  How often do you take the time to specifically do exercises to keep the muscles of your ankles, arches and toes working to keep your feet fit?

And our feet are just a small portion of the body that needs to be in balance.  Our muscles work in opposition to each other.  If we are in pain, the brain says, “stop using this muscle, it hurts.”  But still needing to get around, go to work, make it through the day, we find other muscles (that shouldn’t really be doing the work) to get the job done.  Use these incorrect muscles a couple of times, or for a week or longer, and the brain re-sets, accepting these new (wrong muscles) as the ones to always recruit and use for whatever the task is you need to accomplish.

So the “wrong” muscles get stronger, and stronger.  And the muscles that really should be working for us get weaker, and weaker.  Can you see how this can be a contributing factor to poor posture, bad body mechanics, and back pain?

Remember Rosie, who’d spent the past three months with excruciating back pain?  Well after a quick posture assessment to identify how her standing posture habits were affecting / contributing to the problems, and learning  how to find a few key muscle groups she hadn’t been using, within fifteen minutes, she came up to me and said, “You are amazing, my back already feels better!”

Becoming more aware of the muscle support we need standing still is critical to getting the right muscles to work when we move.  This introduction to better body mechanics and good posture helped Rosie realize how much SHE could be doing to be proactive and a part of the solution to help alleviate her back pain.  When I spoke to her a month later, she still had zero back pain, but also realized that she had to work on improving her fitness, and needed to develop an at-home exercise program, (for her feet, legs, hips, core, and well every single part and piece of her body,) to improve her whole-body health and ensure that she would not have future problems with back pain.  Getting started and investing in herself for this was a no-brainer, because she’d already experienced how much of a difference becoming “intentional” with her posture habits had helped improve her health.

If you’re experiencing back pain, here are five critical questions to consider:

  1. How important is maintaining your good health?
  2. How is your back pain limiting what you want to do in life?
  3. What is it costing you today to deal with the frustration of living with back pain?
    (lost work hours, lost sleep, weight gain/loss, other health problems,
    medications, medical expenses, other issues)
  4. What are the long-term costs and expenses of living a life in pain?
  5. How much time and energy are you committed and willing to invest in you?

Taking the initiative to improve posture, body alignment, muscle strength, balance, flexibility, and functional movement habits with the right exercises and a training program can be a priceless investment in your long-term, pain-free, whole-body health.

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Take the first step… towards reducing back pain and enjoying better health.  Become more aware of your current posture habits with this quick Posture Self-Assessment Quiz

Posted by Aliesa George in Alleviating Pain & Chronic Health Problems, Posture Improvement.

Functional Fitness – Health and Fitness Success: Do You Have Good Posture & Body Mechanics?

6 Simple Strategies To Build a Strong Foundation for Your Health and Fitness Success

(part 2 of 6)

Are you confident that you have good Posture habits?  Are the curves of your spine in the right places?  Do you have any annoying aches, pains, or chronic injuries?  Have you ever had a serious injury, sprained ankle, broken bone, been in a car wreck, or had a major surgery?  Does your job have you seated in a chair for 8-10 hours a day, or on your feet all day?  Or perhaps you have to do the same repetitive motion for work or a sport activity?

All of these things have the potential to affect our good posture and balanced muscle development.  Pretty much everybody has a dominant side and a weaker side.  Do you know which is which for you?

If there’s an extreme difference, chances are you’re posture and body mechanic habits may not be as healthy and wonderful and you think they are.  Poor posture habits result in poor body mechanics, and even a very small imbalance can have a huge impact over time!

Posted by Aliesa George in Exercise and Fitness, Functional Movement, Posture Improvement.

Posture – Structural Spine Support for Whole-Body Health

The human body is the most amazing structure ever created! If our structure is properly supported, and all our muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, and body systems are in harmony – we can move, work, and play with minimal effort and maximum enjoyment for optimal whole-body health and a truly healthy and happy life.

What Happens When A Back Is Out of Balance?

Posted by Aliesa George in Posture Improvement.

Pilates Breathing Tips To Decompress the Spine, Reduce Neck Pain, & Improve Posture

Are your current breathing habits helping you stay healthy, or potentially causing back pain, shoulder pain or neck pain?  Is your current breath pattern helping improve your posture with every breath you take?

Breathing is something we take for granted.  It happens automatically to keep us alive.  Inhaling is the first thing we do when we’re born, and exhaling is the last things we do when we die.  Every minute, of every day  for our entire life, our heart beats to pump life nourishing blood through our system, and our lungs and diaphragm work to provide oxygen to our blood & cells.

It’s nice to know that we don’t have to think really hard to keep breathing and stay alive, but better breathing habits definitely have added benefits to improve our health. 

These Pilates Breathing Tips Can Help:

Posted by Aliesa George in Alleviating Pain & Chronic Health Problems, Back Pain, Breathing, Pilates, Posture Improvement.

Improve Posture & Reduce Pain – Pilates and Posture Principles for Health

Do I have to practice Pilates to improve my posture?

Not necessarily. However, the Pilates exercises can be a wonderful way to help you change habits. Everything that you learn about your body with the Pilates Method can be applied to both your everyday life and other fitness activities. The principles of breathing and conscious body awareness with movement that are taught with Pilates training helps to reinforce good posture habits. The Pilates exercises place the body in safe non-weight bearing positions to improve alignment, strength and flexibility. With better body mechanics the exercises help retrain muscle systems for more efficient movement habits. Improved posture is a by-product of a well-balanced muscular system and a great way to develop this is with a Pilates workout program.

Posted by Aliesa George in Pilates, Pilates Exercises, Techniques & Teaching Tips, Posture Improvement.