Postural alignment, functional movement, and bodywork for breath and head-forward posture

It’s coming up on a year since I started doing functional movement classes with Matt Fuhrman at Tao Health & Fitness. I thought I’d report on my progress.

I am way stronger and sturdier than before I started doing this. It wasn’t that I was unfit before, but my body was still twisted and unevenly developed. I couldn’t run without paying for it later, not just feeling soreness in the muscles worked. It felt like structurally, the pounding of running was pounding my compensations into my body.

What I wanted to do was release compensations and unhealthy muscular tension patterns built up over decades that I now realize included birth, hitting my head multiple times, breaking my tailbone, “minor” injuries from rough-housing with my brothers, having my back “go out” multiple times, not exercising, working at sedentary jobs, multiple car accidents, multiple spills from bicycling, an injury that required wearing a Frankenstein boot on my left foot for 6 weeks, driving a car, and more.

In short, life.

My spinal scoliosis unwound from working with a NUCCA chiropractor, getting my cranium balanced on top of my atlas (C1 vertebra), which was awesome and wonderful, but it left muscular imbalances to be worked out.

I eventually came to realize that I had probably had a birth injury that left my left sacroiliac joint weak. No one noticed, and I didn’t know any different, but my left leg was always weaker, wobblier, not quite “under me.”

(From studying craniosacral therapy, I’ve learned that craniosacral work on infants includes assessing the SI joints and assisting them into proper relationship if needed. If I could have had that as an infant, it would have prevented a lifetime of issues. Bittersweet. Not having it gave me this career, though.)

Before I gave attention to it, my left foot turned out while my right foot was straight. I habitually stood with my weight on my right leg, my left leg acting as a kickstand.

Heck, that alone over the years could have caused the cranial misalignment that created the scoliosis by pressing on my brain stem causing certain muscles to contract, or the scoliosis could have come from head injuries, trauma, or all of these issues.

Yoga helped, but I still had issues. One-legged balance poses like tree and eagle were always more difficult on my left leg. Full lotus was (and is) beyond my ability.

What I’m coming to learn through my continuing study and practice of bodywork is that postural issues are ubiquitous. Tom Myers, the guru of Anatomy Trains who was a student of Ida Rolf, writes that in 30 years of practice, every single person he’s worked on has had a rotation in their spine (relative to their pelvis). He notes that even in photos of fetuses in the womb, a spinal rotation exists.

It seems to be our human birthright to have at least minor misalignments.

The real issue is whether your misalignments are affecting your energy (meridians and fascial lines often coincide), causing you pain, affecting your organs, restricting your movements, leaving you weak in some places and strong in others.

In other words, it’s not how much you can bench press or how far/fast you can run/bike/swim. Can you pass a functional movement screen?

A major problem is that we adjust to however our body is and call it “normal” – until it hurts or restricts our movement, or until we get injured, sometimes in the same place repeatedly because it hasn’t fully healed.

Functional movement is about building stability and mobility to prevent injury. Pre-hab is what Tim Ferriss calls it. And it’s good for every body. I am very grateful that the research FMS is based on has come down from elite athletic trainers to now be available to anyone who wants to overcome issues and be sturdy, mobile, and strong into old age.

Bodyreading is something I’ve been studying, both through reading Tom Myers’ book Anatomy Trains: Myofascial Meridians for Manual and Movement Therapistsand watching his DVDs, and I’ve just started reading Structural Bodywork: An introduction for students and practitioners(about the principles of Rolfing) to learn more.

I wish I had before-and-after photos of my body to show you. I can tell you that my left leg has changed structure. It feels more “under me” than before. It’s stronger, and I can balance on it nearly as long as on my right.

I still have work to do. My left foot still has a little torque in it, causing wobble, and my left gluteal muscles need work where they attach to my upper sacrum, which I can feel happening while doing the single-leg deadlift and some other FMS exercises. It takes time and effort, and sometimes it’s tedious. But it’s paying off. I feel good, and my energy is good.

Forward-Head-Posture2My body is not your body. What are your alignment issues? If someone took a photo of you in a swimsuit standing at ease from the front, back and each side, would your pelvis be balanced on your legs or tilted forward or backward? Would your ribcage be balanced over your pelvis? Would your head be balanced over your torso? How would your left and right sides be different?

If your body looks like this from the side, or you know someone who does, I am offering pay-what-you-wish bodywork sessions on opening the breath and easing the neck (for the common “head-forward” posture).

More structural bodywork will be offered in the future.


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