I am sure everyone has heard of how important core strength is but have you ever taken time to think about our body’s scaffolding system? Anna-Louise Bouvier describes our body as scaffolding and breaks the body down into 6 key areas and interestingly when scaffolding collapses, it may be described in the following ways:
- Head and neck – muscles at the base of the neck feels like rocks;
- Shoulders and chest – dull ache between shoulder blades, shoulder pain or feels like there is a catching occurring when reaching over head;
- Lower back and core – back muscle spasms and aches;
- Hips – it can give you sciatica pain and or spasms in the buttocks;
- Knees – difficulty getting up stairs, squatting or painful after sitting for prolonged periods;
- Feet – painful walking barefooted, pain and stiffness, aches in the morning.
Understanding your body posture will help to build a strong scaffolding system.
The question now is are you a floppy, a stiffy or a flippy?
Floppies will love to stretch but shouldn’t.
Stiffies hate stretching but should.
Flippies need to stretch their stiff bits and firm their wobbly bits.
Are you a floppy? Answer yes or no.
- Have you always loved stretching?
- When younger, could you do or almost do the splits?
- Do you like sitting in odd positions with legs twisted and arms wrapped around them?
- When young, could you easily bend forward and place your hands flat on the floor?
- Do your thumbs, fingers or elbows bend back in funny positions?
- Have you always made clicking and cracking noises and feel the need to stretch to release tension?
- Do you roll your ankles? Did you sprain your ankles as a child?
If you answered ‘yes’ to three or more of these questions you are a floppy. Floppies are more likely to have problems in their neck and lower back because of mobile areas of the body rely on support from the scaffolding system for control. Floppies find it difficult to maintain balance.
Are you a stiffy? Answer yes or no.
- Have you always hated stretching?
- Is it difficult to touch your toes?
- Have you always hated sitting cross-legged on the floor?
- Does the idea of yoga class fill you with dread?
If you answered ‘yes’ to three or more of these questions you are a stiffy. The good news is that stiffies are less likely to suffer body breakdown. As stiffies age though they tend to suffer from problems in the shoulders and hips because their ligaments won’t allow the movement. Stiffies find it easy to maintain balance but feel tight.
Are you a flippy? Answer yes or no.
- Have you always quite liked stretching but find one side is slightly tighter than the other?
- When you were younger, could you almost touch your toes? If warmed up, could you almost touch your toes now?
- Have you always had tight hamstrings?
- Did you quite like gymnastics and dance as a child?
- Do you find our bra strap falls off one shoulder?
- Do you prefer carrying your handbag or sachet more on one shoulder than the other?
- If you are over 30, do you feel slightly stiff all the time?
If you answered ‘yes’ to three or more of these questions you are a flippy – which is a floppy with stiff bits. Most people fall into this category. Flippies tend to be stiff in their mid-backs and hamstrings but have wobbly lower back and necks. Flippies are like a rope ladder with wooden crooked steps. One shoulder slightly higher than the other and have a higher chance of developing scoliosis. Flippies find it difficult to balance but have stiff areas of their body.
It is never too late to correct posture, stretch, balance and strengthen our scaffolding system.
Try this: sit on your chair, uncross your legs, feet flat on the floor and move forward on the chair, looking straight ahead. Your body will be upright holding your posture align and balanced. Notice if you cross your legs your pelvis actually rolls backwards and your spine will curve crushing your scaffolding system. When you sit tall feel the confidence, feel the core engage and feel your scaffolding build strength.
Acknowledge and learn this feeling. When you realise the slump or deflated posture realign your body once again. We have spent a life-time sitting, standing and even laying in a particular way so don’t be too hard on yourself when old habits creep in. The most important factor is you have realised and are making a conscience effort to practice good habits and continue to reinforce them in your brain and body. It makes me feel good to keep my body balanced and aligned.
Good habits begin at home but to maintain them is it recommended going to see a personal trainer, having a plan to suit your body and lifestyle as this is a marathon not a sprint for long term benefits.
Most of all have fun, feel good and regain life.
Ref: Flemming + Bouvier 2010