With great pleasure, I welcome back Carol Robbins, RES-CPT for Part II on the Health Series. If you missed it, Part I is HERE.
Carol teaches movement in person in Toronto’s Beaches area and by Skype worldwide. She holds monthly workshops on various topics and twice yearly a 2-day Move Your DNA workshop under the umbrella of Nutritious Movement™. She is a teacher trainer for Nutritious Movement™ at certification weeks and mentors the certifying students by Skype. She writes a blog on her website and articles for various publications.
Alignment for Every Body or Alignment & Lifestyle Choices for Your Health
A lot of people use the term “alignment” interchangeably with “posture” so let’s start by defining alignment. I use alignment as a tool to measure one body part in relation to another body part. If you want an accurate assessment, you need to start the measurement from somewhere, determining how much movement (or how little) is available from that point. I use a grid, defined by bony landmarks on the body that are similar on every body, but unique in terms of your proportions. For example, everyone has a pelvis and everyone’s pelvis has two bones that sticks out the front called the ASIS. But everyone’s ASIS are going to be slightly different in width as determined by their dimensions. If you stand with your feet under your ASIS, you will be standing your hip width, which might not be the same as mine.
When you measure body parts (or joint range), you need to set a default zero – a joint or body position that is neither flexed or extended or rotated as examples. We start at the ground and work our way up, and eventually we uncover the areas that are unable to stack in gravity without using force (muscle use).
It’s an informative technique and a self-empowering one.
But it is not to say that you are to be “in alignment” all the time. That is like saying “what is the best one joint position (posture) to be in?” The best joint position is all of them. The best way to walk is all the ways. And the best and easiest way to get that kind of variance is to live in an environment that requires it.
We use the grid tool to identify under-moved areas, and then we use corrective exercises to assess those movements, eventually introducing lifestyle concepts that require more movement across all joints.
One of those lifestyle concepts is shoe choice. You and your family are going to wear shoes every day; what you put on your feet has a profound and lasting effect (especially in the case of young children), potentially causing foot pathologies, and toe deformities as well as adaptations in the foot/ankle/lower leg complex such as a chronically shortened calf group due to a heel lift. It doesn’t have to be a 2” heel to cause these issues – even a child’s first shoe often has a ¼” heel, which is significant in their small and growing frame.
Our culture does not make it easy to make these choices, zero drop wide toe box shoes are hard to find (but not impossible!) and we are surrounded by flat and level surfaces which if absent would otherwise require more movement; stairs, sidewalks, paved paths. We are encouraged to sit in chairs from a very early age for many hours a day. We have become isolated without the community that would support and assist a new mother, an older member. From our beds to our counter heights, everything is contrived to be convenient but not movement variant.
The corrective exercises can, in a small way, replace some of the lost movement, but eventually, especially as you start to reap the benefits of abundant movement, you will want to adopt some of the lifestyle choices as they fit into your life.
Restorative Exercise is primarily a gait focused movement paradigm, walking being one of the biological requirements for optimal human function, so many of the exercises are gait specific.
I teach private sessions in person and by Skype, offer small group classes, 2-hour and 2-day workshops and community movement opportunities in Toronto’s beaches neighbourhood.
Carol Robbins, RES-CPT
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