Fundamentals of Balance


It seems several of my clients missed the original posting of this article on April 2 this year.  So, here it is again…with love.

My personal training clients have learned that their lives change when I’ve completed another course for my Continuing Education requirements.

When they catch me watching them with acute concentration and silence they know I’m thinking, evaluating and about to modify their exercise routine. The additional information allows me to assess their movement and determine whether or not their bodies are moving correctly. What it means for them is more precision with their exercise — that translates as the workout is more difficult. It’s for their own good! It will protect them from injury as well as give them better results.
The latest course I took was called Fundamentals of Balance. Unlike other courses I’ve had over the years this proved to be a step or three above my pay grade. It made me really think and evaluate and STUDY!  I loved it. Authors like Paul Chek, and James Crozier brought new meaning to balance. I want to take this opportunity to thank them.
As Crozier points out, life is about balance. Body, mind, and spirit depend on each other to keep us living life to its fullest. Before balance comes good posture, and before posture can be correct we need to breathe correctly.

“Breathing is one of the most important issues to consider when looking at, or trying to correct, an individual’s posture.” Crozier writes. “It rates number one in the body’s hierarchy; it’s the top of the totem pole, as the body will sacrifice everything else including posture to maintain the airway. Air is life. It’s that simple. Without it, you die. You can live without food and water for a certain period of time, but not air.”

The human anatomy is designed for us to be nose breathers. Mouth breathing is associated with stress (fight or flight) and destroys the body’s hierarchy for movement. Believe me when I tell you the explanation of the process is complicated. I’ll give you the “Cliff Notes” version: Habitual mouth breathers force their head and shoulders forward. Their sternum and rib cage are depressed and they slump. This changes the alignment of their bodies (the kinetic chain) and causes stress down the line. Have you ever played the game Jenga? As you remove the wood blocks the stack leans and twists. The same thing happens to your spine and body when you get out of whack. There are even changes in hormone imbalance which we won’t address here.

Try the experiment suggested by Crozier in his article Posture and Body Balance:

“Move your chair away from your computer and sit with good posture in your chair. Your ear, the head of the humerus and the head of the femur should all be in the same vertical plane if viewed from the side. Inhale and exhale several times through your nose. Notice the effort required to do this. Continue breathing but change to mouth breathing. You will note mouth breathing in this posture requires considerably more effort than nose breathing. Continue mouth breathing, but change your posture by slumping. Let your sternum depress and shoulders roll forward. Your breathing now will most likely be much easier than when you had good posture.

While still in this slumped posture, change to nose breathing. With this change, you will see that it takes more effort to nose breathe with poor posture. This simple experiment highlights how posture can affect breathing and vice versa.”

From this experiment you get some inkling of how the body is affected by breathing. Now imagine your vision, bodily movement from the feet to the tip of your head, and even the foods you eat which are fundamental to balance and health. Standing on top of a stability ball isn’t balance — it’s a circus trick. Balance and posture go hand in hand, be sure your movement patterns are bio-mechanically sound before you get too fancy. Loading joints when they are out of balance can be more harmful than good.

Enough said?

Be Well!  Breathe Well!

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