by Richard Gleason
When I began my Manual Therapeutics business 20 years ago in Los Angeles, one of my goals was to figure out what the major pain problems were that my patients were confronting. I wasn’t interested in just providing relief, I wanted to give them the tools to avoid future pain.
As I researched their biomechanics, I found there was one fundamental problem that kept showing up with my patients; hyper-kyphosis, commonly referred to as ‘hunchback’.
Besides the obvious aesthetic downside, hunchback causes the head to tilt forward, leading to shoulder/neck stress, and causes spinal degeneration, oxygen deprivation and compromised digestion and endocrine function.
Unfortunately, many of us spend a significant portion of our day sitting in chairs or car seats that rarely provide proper ergonomic support – even the pricey ones. Screen displays, whether on your phone, computer or television are rarely at eye level and further invite a collapsed posture.
Most chairs emphasize lumbar support, which is a mistake. When I started researching solutions to my patients’ hunchback, I discovered that when the midback (thoracic) was properly positioned, not only did head tilt disappear, but a proper lumbar curve was achieved naturally. This lead, ultimately, to my creating the Astralign Posture Support pillow.
Not to sales pitch, but rather to explain, the Astralign is a first of its kind midback support pillow for office chairs, car seats, couches etc, that gently positions the midback at a slight upward angle, eliminating head tilt and hunchback and retraining good posture muscles.
The fact is, most of us have lost function of the serratus and other back muscles involved in thoracic flexion, which is essential to good posture.
To give you an idea of what thoracic flexion is; clasp your hands behind your back and, while pulling them down toward your butt, push your chest forward. Now release your hands to your side, but keep the chest flexed. Congrats, your serratus are now engaged and you are now doing what I call ‘active sitting’ or ‘active standing’.
It may feel awkward or exaggerated (many of my patients have told me this) but I assure you, it is not. ‘Active sitting or standing’ is how the body counters gravitational force and the allure of screen displays and is essential for maintaining good posture throughout the day.
With Jacqui (who is a patient of mine) and the other excellent instructors at The Pilates Class, you have the perfect crew to help target the muscles involved in ‘active sitting’.
Good posture is not just about looking good. It's about maintaining proper alignment of the spine to reduce the risk of injury and promote optimal functioning of the body.
Here are other steps you can take to improve your posture and maintain good biomechanics. These include:
- Taking breaks from sitting: Try to get up and move around every 30 minutes or so. This can help prevent stiffness and improve circulation.
- Stretching: Incorporate stretching into your daily routine to keep your muscles flexible and reduce tension.
- Strengthening exercises: Engage in exercises that strengthen the muscles of the back and core, such as yoga or Pilates.
- Ergonomic adjustments: Make sure your workspace is set up in a way that promotes good posture, such as adjusting your chair and monitor height.
Maintaining good biomechanics is crucial for our health and well-being, especially when it comes to sitting. With the Astralign I created a posture pillow that not only provides proper midback support but gently trains back muscles so that ‘active sitting’, or ‘active standing’ becomes second nature. But also investing time in these other steps to maintain good posture is crucial to reduce the risk of injury, improve circulation, and promote overall health.