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Postural Plasticity: the Good News and the Bad News

What we need to know about neuroplasticity is that repetition of any movement pattern embeds that pattern. 

Our bodies are not machines. They adapt. They adapt to the things that we repeat often. They forget the things we forget.

We call this “neuroplasticity.” The body talks and the brain listens and adapts. “Postural plasticity” is neuroplasticity applied to posture.

The modern-day pioneer of neuroplasticity is Dr. Michael Merzenich. He discovered that the ability of our brain to adapt again and again continues as long as we live. Good news and bad news.

The scope of neuroplasticity is large and complex. What we need to know is that repetition of any movement pattern embeds that pattern. If we round our shoulders forward to use our computers and cell phone, the brain will adapt. We will suffer from the aches, pains, and limitations of rounded shoulders.

If we stop rounding our shoulders, the brain will adapt again. When we continue to repeat the new pattern, we will be rid of the pain.

Any movement you make, any shape you take, reinforces a motor neural pathway in the brain.  It doesn’t matter whether the movement is healthy or not.

Any movement you make, any shape you take, reinforces a motor neural pathway in the brain. With every repetition, that pathway becomes stronger. It doesn’t matter whether the movement is correct or incorrect, healthy or unhealthy.

Poor posture may start with tension, trauma, or overuse. It may be the result of sitting for hours. Or performing exercises using poor form.

 

Postural plasticity is at work whether our posture is good or bad. 

Postural plasticity is at work whether our posture is good or bad. So it is both good news and bad news. It depends on you.

What is good posture? To have good posture, we must know what it is and find it in our own bodies. It won’t look the same on everyone.

Discover and practice your own Good Posture using the guidelines below. Repeat often. Your brain will create a neural pathway to support you. In time, Good Posture will become the natural state of your being.

STANDING GOOD POSTURE

  1. Stand with your feet parallel to each other about hip distance apart. Point your toes forward.
  2. Stack your ankles, knees, hips, and shoulders.
  3. Bring your ears in line with your shoulders. Look straight ahead.
  4. Allow your arms to hang at your sides with your thumbs forward.
  5. Feel your foot tripod at 3 points: below your big toe, the center of your heel, and below your little toe.
  6. Breathe in. Breathe out. Pay attention to your breath.
  7. Contract your pelvic floor without contracting your buttocks. Think zipping up your blue jeans.
  8. Find ease in your stance. Avoid rigidity and too much effort. Make small adjustments.
  9. Stay for several minutes. Your postural muscles will contract isometrically. Good posture is not passive!
  10. Close your eyes and notice your inner balance mechanism.
  11. Or squeeze a three-inch yoga block high between your thighs.
  12. Or bring your bent elbows out to your sides in a cactus shape to open your chest. Then drop your arms.

Summing Up:

Summing Up: The science of neuroplasticity applies to all your movement habits. Whether they are correct or incorrect. Including your posture. Choose how you move. It will change your life!

[Medical Disclaimer: This article is for education and information only. It is not a substitute for a doctor’s opinion.] 
Photo Credit: ID 124519708 © Azat Gaisin | Dreamstime.com

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