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Is your spine smarter than a 5th grader?

What happens to the spine as we age, and some tips to preventing unhealthy postures for all ages

In all stages of life, the way we hold ourselves is important. Observe the public sometime and see the different ways people hold themselves while they sit, walk, talk, stand, etc. There's a global pandemic of "forward neck" these days for BOTH children and adults. The body language for one who is under a great deal of stress, anxiety, or depression will carry themselves differently than one who is confident, happy, and content.

When it comes to developing a healthy posture - stability is the key. Stability comes through understanding the core, its relationship to the spine, and incorporating movement patters that build stabilizing muscles. With a stable core, we are free to creatively and confidently move (which also can be seen in the way we hold ourselves).

However, our bodies are designed to be both stable and mobile. We are not meant to live in a neutral spine. The parts of our body that are designed to be mobile are: ankle, hips, and thoracic spine. Whereas, the parts of our body that are designed for stability are: knees, lumbar, and cervical spine. From birth to death, our bodies experience a wide range of muscular and skeletal stages that all affect our posture. Typically, the skeletal system reaches its full growth between the ages of 17 and 25. As we age both skeletal and muscular systems change which can affect our posture. Some are due to lifestyle, some are hereditary, and others are due to the natural processes of aging.

Rest is the next component to a healthy posture. We experience stress on many different levels. Stress ignites the sympathetic nervous system that kicks us into gear and drives us to accomplish tasks and be productive. A good thing, right? Yes, of course. Not healthy if it's not balanced. Another global pandemic Lauren and I have observed is an over dependency of cortisol (stress producers) without the balance of rest. It can become a vicious cycle. Our postures start to sink when our bodies are living in stress chronically, and not allowed to rest and reset.

Even though a 5th grader's spine is different than an adult's, there are things both can do to keep their spines healthy, wealthy, and wise.

  • Awareness is the first and most important thing! Learn where neutral spine is. Learn where the core is and how to integrate into daily movements.

  • Challenge the balance unilaterally (one-sided). For example, tree pose, single leg deadlifts, or skipping.

  • Bodyweight exercises are one of the safest ways to increase stability and strength.

  • Learn the value of rest. When you rest, you reset and balance the nervous & muscular systems. It is also very beneficial in reducing stress.

  • Functional Mobility drills help build bone density and train your brain (brain mapping) to...well...function BETTER as your move! Functional mobility does not train your body in end ranges, but rather strengthens the muscles surrounding the joints, with core integration, that are used in different movement patterns that mimic your daily movements. CARs are a great example of functional mobility exercises. (Controlled Articular Rotations).

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