As we come out of summer, our training motives may shift slightly from aesthetic towards those of health and vitality. Through winter, it is a good idea to begin preparing for your summer fun by combating the very effects that modern civilization is having on your energy levels. Modern civilization, in all of its glory, has had a detrimental effect on our posture, and is therefore having a big impact on our energy levels. The lynch pin of posture is, of course, the spine, and your lack of energy at the end of each day may be directly related to how well your body can stabilize this hub of movement.
Correct posture can be understood as a balance between strength and flexibility of both large and small muscles, which limit the stress placed on our joints and allow optimal efficiency from our body as a whole, resulting in minimal energy expenditure for any required movement.
Unfortunately, the posture of your spine is constantly affected by outside stressors, such as hunching at your computer, limited physical activity and incorrect recruitment of our muscles to perform any given task. The body’s will to compensate leads us to the internal tug of war between opposite muscles that we know as incorrect spinal alignment, or poor posture.
This attempt from the skeletal system to correct itself, contributes to faulty movement patterns at your limbs, and simple movements are usually performed by a much bigger muscle than is required, increasing the risk of injury and draining the body of more energy than it should. Such compensatory mechanisms within the body are known as energy leaks.
The deep muscles of your trunk and core are known as your inner unit. They are responsible for making the spine rigid enough to provide your outer unit (the muscles that generate large movements) with an energy efficient, strong platform.
The inner unit is made up of transverse abdominis (TVA), a belt like muscle that should anticipate movement and act like a corset to add rigidity to your spine and allow maximum strength from your limbs; your diaphragm, which should drop down to the top of TVA as you breathe and your pelvic floor that should engage from underneath your pelvis at the bottom of TVA. All three should come together to provide a solid cylinder that stabilizes your torso and spine. Supplementary to these is multifidus, a muscle that sits within the cylinder, and attaches to the spine to hold your vertebrae in their best position for function.
If you want your body to perform, it is essential that your inner core activates efficiently, as it is much less taxing for these small muscles to stabilize your spine, rather than requiring much bigger energy sapping muscles to over power it and take away from your base of movement. A strong spine, in combination with good posture is a true natural remedy to beating ‘three-thirty-itis’, and it will provide you with more gusto to perform well both at work and in the gym!