By Amanda Buckner, Untamed Fitness Personal Training
We all know and feel when we have bad posture. Whether you've been hunched over a laptop for the last 8 hours, or lounging on the couch on a lazy Saturday, poor posture has an overall effect on every part of our body, mind, and internal health. Whether we like it or not, our body's systems work collectively together to help us live every day. Our immune system is not separate from our mechanical system, our digestion is not separate from our cravings. Poor posture can reflect negative mindset, set us up for health issues, both mental and physical, as well as make us prone to injury, disrupt our sleep, increased cravings, the list goes on... Let's dive in a little bit more to see what I'm talking about.
When engaged in an exercise routine, utilizing postural therapy is a great way to understand how your body works and helps motivate you to start the activity and keep going. By the end of this article, we will better understand how the human body's muscles work together, and how our body works collectively together as a unit, and not as individual subsystems. (Book a Free Fitness Consult)
What is a muscular fascial sling?
Think of your muscular slings as how your body connects itself together. Let's say for example, you are right-handed. Nine times out of 10, your left hand will be your stronger side and your right foot will be your stronger leg. This crossbody sling is a reflection of how our body works together on a diagonal and not so much same side pairing. With you being right-handed, your right hand and left foot will be your weaker side, more focused on detail-oriented work.
As you can see in the above pictures, everyday motions such as running or throwing a ball all rely on the structural health of your sling system. If the sling system is out of whack, or is not equally strong overall, this is where muscles will start to feel tight and pull. A weakness in any one of the four slings can cause distal pain. (Book a Free Fitness Consult)
For example, let me tell you about a client of mine, who came to me with plantar fasciitis. The plantar fasciitis was unbearable, and she had tried every quick-pain relief she could get her hands on. Still, nothing worked. She was terrified of developing a heel spur, which develops after the plantar fascia has pulled the periosteum away from the bone.
When coming to me, she was overly frustrated in her failed attempts to treat her daily pain. We first started out with some mobility work, using a lacrosse ball to relax the plantar fascia. Next we worked a foam roller into each one of her workouts, addressing her tight calves and underactive tibialis anterior. Within a week, her plantar fasciitis was gone, and had revealed a weakness in her lateral and posterior slings, which were able to be addressed, strengthened and corrected in just 4 weeks. In just a 6 week interval, my client was able to completely reverse her pain and start living a pain-free life.
The sling system, also referred to as anatomy trains, is a complex system with four different lines. The anterior, posterior, deep longitudinal, and lateral sling systems all work together in opposite ways. The goal of each system is to take into account all the muscles that are involved in enhancing posture. It can help decrease pain and improve performance, mobility, and appearance. (Book a Free Fitness Consult)
When the body moves throughout the day these slings help it move effectively from one position to another some examples include carrying groceries, putting on a backpack, throwing a ball, etc. When doing specific movements or participating in different activities, forces constantly move throughout the body. The sling system also helps with joint stability by keeping joints in a neutral position while not in use. For example, the front sling works in contrast to the rear sling to help the entire kinetic chain work together to achieve equal balance. If either of these slings are off, you can see how our mobility and functionality can't be compromised to cause injury, as well as other outlying health issues.
Symptoms of pain, numbness, or tightness begin with unbalanced slings. This is why the Trainers at Untamed Fitness start here to fix your daily pain. It may be caused by you sitting in a chair for work or school for long hours, your neck and back rounded forward like you're the Loch Ness Monster.
The body causes other stressors, including bending or turning to the same side. After hours of sitting and then when changing positions, muscles are affected: hips and abdominals are shorter/tighter, while the back and gluteal muscles are elongated. Neither works effectively, and thus, the slings cannot function properly. The result is the body compensates while walking with feet turning outward or inward, shoulder and neck muscles working harder, more or less arm swing, a lean to one side, and so forth. It causes stiffness and pain in joints (hip, knee, or foot) or your neck or back muscles.
So what is there to do?
Take Care of Yourself Early and Often: I know I know, I'm beating a dead horse here. There is NO shortcut to health. Anyone that tells you the opposite is trying to sell you something ;) To take care of yourself, you need your basic needs met. These include proper exercise everyday, basic hygiene, eating well for nutrition, getting enough sleep, and utilizing proper mindfulness techniques.
Don't Stop Moving! It's not necessarily the WAY you sit that's causing your issues, it's the DURATION of it! Just think, construction workers who are on their feet all day long, suffer from back problems just the same, due to overactivity of certain muscles. Computer workers are called out all the time for their poor posture, but really, you just need to move more! If nothing else, adopt a "Pomodoro technique" (20 min of work, 5 min break) to move your body multiple times an hour. If you know you need to sit down and focus for longer, make sure you change body positions every 5-10 minutes. This can include sitting, standing, kneeling, leaning, reclining, crossing left leg, crossing right leg.. Notice the postures your body gravitates to while not being used, and make sure to reverse the positions on your other side!
Ask a Professional. Ask a professional that can help you decipher your aches and pains. I can tell you from experience - it is WAY faster, easier and less painful to ask a pro for help. It took me most of my life using trial and error, trying to correct my own deficiencies. Once I had professional help and the right path to follow, my knowledge exploded while my pain disappeared. Book a free Intro with me and learn how you can get pain-free!
Engelhard, R. (2023, March 26). Role of muscle alignment blog: Weston, FL: Realign by randee. Realign by Randee. https://www.realignbyrandee.com/blog/an-overview-of-the-muscle-system-and-its-role-in-posture-dysfunction
Weerasinghe, Maheshya & Dias, Kapila & Dharmaratne, Anuja & Sandaruwan, Damitha & Nisansala, Aruni & Keppitiyagama, Chamath & Kodikara, N.D.. (2016). Computer aid assessment of muscular imbalance for preventing overuse injuries in athletes. 244-248. 10.1145/3018009.3018023.