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Is there a perfect posture?

Writing blog posts helps me get thoughts out of my head so here is on I have been mulling over for while.

I recently listened to a podcast episode by Canadian Chiropractor and 'Functional Range Conditioning founder' Andreo Spina called 'Control Yourself' On the first episode he discusses various topics that he considers to find frustrating. He discusses them with fellow Chiropractor and 'Research Review Service' Founder Shawn Thistle. One of the topics they discussed is the question in the title. Is there a correct posture? It is a question I had never really scrutinised before. At university, all chiropractors are taught about the human body, we analyse spines and are taught techniques, exercises, home advice designed around treating the human spine. Though one question which was not discussed in any neurological or mechanical detail is whether there is a 'perfect posture'? I mean, we all can visualise in our heads right now someone we have met, or seen on TV, that we would consider to have a 'good posture' but would we consider that person to have a 'perfect posture' or is that posture just perfect for that individual.

Lets visualise and compare for example - Mo Farah and Tyson Fury These two sportsmen are, or have been, at the very top of their chosen sports. One is a Olympic champion long distance track runner and one is a world champion professional Boxer. If a perfect posture is possible, surely these two should have it? However both have very different body type, body shape and posture. Different requirements designed for different sports. it is safe to say that none of us would expect them to be the same shape or size. Yet... why do we non-professional athletes look at each other and question how our posture should look.

The answer comes down to, what do you need your body to do? What is your chosen hobby or profession, what does that hobby or profession need for you to succeed and avoid injury? Which brought up the next part of their conversation. A question we hear a lot in our clinic. "Will Yoga help my Jiu Jitsu training?" - You could insert any training method or exercise in instead of 'Yoga' or 'Jiu Jitsu' for this question. The answer given was that "Yoga is good for someone that wants to be the best at Yoga". Think about this scenario for a second - If you are a keen athlete in any sport and you get tight muscles or you lack flexibility/mobility, should you do Yoga? It is a really interesting question. I had never thought about this in any more details than the obvious - "Yoga makes your muscles/joints looser (debatable I know), so sure yeah, why not" - well the 'why not' is actually a lot more important than we think. Just as above, where we don't expect someone to have a posture that doesn't suit their chosen sport. Why should we then expect to get better results from training in a way which does not directly improve a specific aspect of our chosen sport/hobby/profession.

Where should I focus my training then? is the next question. Your focus should be on getting the basics right in areas that need improvement, there are many technique based exercises and specific sport related strength exercises that can benefit your sport. Taking up another sport or hobby to help your main passion may actually hinder your progress by making your training non-specific. The take away from all of this is to think how you can adapt your training to help improve certain key aspects of it. Sometimes, taking things back to basics can be a great starting point. The example given on the podcast was performing a specific Jiu Jitsu hold over and over again till it becomes so smooth and so automatic that you can perform it under the most extreme of stressful situations. It made me think of my days playing Football, I could have spent a lot more time performing the basics - Set pieces, tactical preparation/visualisation, guarding the ball under pressure, turning under pressure, half volley practice, volley practice, communication, jump height. If you get an injury, yes perform your rehab but don't think another sport or hobby will automatically help your main passion. You're more likely wasting time you could be using to fine tune you main sport through training or specific rehab. Think of the 10,000 hours of practice rule but make the practice sport specific. Try to focus on areas of weakness from previous performances. Then focus on the basics required to improve that area of weakness and build from there. Repeat, repeat, repeat till it is so automatic that it will just happen when in a competitive situation. If you are lacking mobility or flexibility then speak to a movement expert for further assistance, advice or manual therapy. Lastly, be aware, some healthcare professionals will offer postural screening and use video capture to analyse your posture to then offer a way to 'correct' it... think twice before you act. Danny


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