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Gait Fiddling 2

I have a pet theory on improving posture and gait. It's too simple though. I feel like nobody is even going to give it a chance because it is so damned simple. It does require a modicum of body awareness, but so does anything. The great thing about my "One weird trick to immediately improve posture!" is that it doesn't require any really effort. No planks or bird dogs or anything like that. Its not a matter of revitalizing your feet (which is important) or waking up your flaccid glutes (also important). In fact, you will probably improve your foot and glute function somewhat just from doing it. At any rate, you should give this a try. At worst, nothing happens, at best, things line up and you'll say to yourself, "Oh! That's what upright is supposed to feel like?"


Are you ready?


Here it is, the Rosetta Stone of posture improvement: have your center of gravity roughly between the ankles.


Well, duh. That seems obvious, I hear you say. Well, do you have awesome posture? Ya think so? Do you have back pain? Knee pain? Hip pain? Toe pain? If any of those pains are there, its not unlikely you have un-awesome posture.


So where is your center of gravity then?


Pretty much everybody does a variation on the same thing, which is to lean forward. Sometimes they lean forward from the head, sometimes they tilt the pelvis and lean from there. Sometimes the head and shoulders are back while the pelvis juts out. In all cases though, the center of gravity is shifted forward; if you were to drop a plumbline down, it would sit somewhere between the midfoot and toes.


What we want is for the center of gravity to be somewhere between the heel and the midfoot. When the center of gravity is forward, your body has no choice but to adopt some unnatural and uncomfortable (and unaesthetic) spine bending posture in order to keep your head upright. If you stand with your center where it should be, suddenly your posture has nowhere to run. It will align itself in the most efficient way it knows how, so there's no choice but for improvement to happen! And when it does, you'll be shocked at how little effort it takes to "stand up straight."


Okay, I hear you say, but how do I go about doing that?


Any number of ways, but why don't I lead you through a little bit of self experimentation.


Let's begin.


Shoes off, if you please. Most shoes are A) Squishy and change our natural proprioception (read balance) B) have tall heels, which shift our weight forward. That's why you should always wear shoes with the least heel to toe drop possible, and with the firmest soles you can stand. Sometime in the future we'll have feet specific Gait Fiddling, but for now, just trust me and get out of those ossifyingly comfy shoes.


Now stand upright without belaboring the point. Just take a mental check-in to see where things are. Breath, relax, all that. Now intentionally move your weight forward. At this point it doesn't really matter how you do it. You can lead with your head, or try to lean with the hips, or keep the whole body rigid and lean from the ankles. Just feel the extra pressure in your forefoot. Now allow yourself to rock in the other direction. Note that you cannot put nearly so much overbalance in the rear direction thanks to the obvious anatomical asymmetry the foot has forward to back, i.e. you don't have an arch and toes behind your heels.


Did you learn something? Good. You're on your way. No? Well then you're probably just belligerent. Try it again a time or two and read on, but know that I've got my eye on you.


Let's try something else. Bend over as though to pick something up off the ground. Feel free to actually put something light on the ground to pick up. How comfortable was that? Did you notice where your weight went? Did it move forward so that you were pressing harder into the ground with your forefoot and toes? Were you not paying attention? Well then try it again, paying attention this time.


Now do it again, picking something up off the ground, but this time take special care to not allow the weight to transfer into the front of your foot. Bend at the waist and hinge so as to keep your center of gravity above the ankles or midfoot. You can practice and see what works best for you in what situations.


Did it feel better when you bent this way? Did you find that you had less stress and unnecessary bending in your back? Great!


So there you are. Its "one weird trick!" to improve your posture, but it is surprisingly deep. You can spend a lot of time figuring out just how to bend and stand and walk with your weight properly centered. Keep playing with it. You will find that your feet and your spine will feel much better.


Let me know in the comments how this worked out for you and if you have any questions.




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