Lets consider gravity. It never sleeps. Even when you do. It is a constant perpendicular force that has to be physically overcome in order to maintain balance, build strength and maintain organizational order. The laws of gravity are universal and should be respected and acknowledged as a constant opposing force. It can also be leveraged to our advantage for correcting postural problems, harnessing energy, facilitating movement or for recreational fun. (Think of downhill skiing, bungee jumping and diving and trampolining for example) In order to consider the role of gravity on our bodies posture, it is important to understand 3 principles of gravity. Gravity is affected by your bodies mass. In order for you to stand in an upright position, your spinal column, muscles ligaments and capsules must be properly aligned to compensate for the gravitational force which is directed downward toward the earth. By understanding these gravitational principles, one can gain assistance with attaining improved body BALANCE.

1. Understanding your center of gravity- This represents the point where the body’s weight is evenly distributed in all planes. That means left to right and front to back. There are some basic landmark points that determine optimum center of gravity. In the frontal plane, its the center of the nose, the sternal notch and pelvic center where the legs meet. In the lateral plane or profile view, it is the acoustic meatus (the external ear hole) the AC joint in the shoulder , the top of the pelvic crest , and the center of the outer ankle. By maintaining your center of gravity over these points, you maximize your bodies equilibrium.

2. Understanding your line of gravity- This is the straight gravitational line that is drawn down the middle of the body. dividing it into equal halves. At optimal balance and equilibrium, the line will fall through the gravitational points that were outlined in the previous paragraph. This is a very helpful diagnostic tool in revealing subtle common deviate shifts in the bodies normal posture. The most common one is the forward head posture which is characterized by an anterior head shift causing the ear hole to line up several inches over the AC shoulder joint (see blog photo). Research by Dr. I.A. Kapanji has shown that every inch forward causes up to an additional 10lbs of excess (and therefore unnecessary) compressive stress on the upper thoracic muscles and spine . This becomes an inefficient use of energy expended to maintain the imbalanced spine in that position which may eventually lead to pain and degenerative changes. Think of how it would feel to carry a bag of groceries with your arm fully stretched out. The bag still weighs the same, but the gravitational force translated through the arm that extends so far from the center of gravity is much greater. and so the arm fatigues much faster. Now return the arm to the center of gravity point at the pelvic crest and less energy is needed to carry it. And so it goes with your head. Maintaining balanced neutral head position over the shoulders limits excessive use of neck and upper back postural muscles, while minimizing spinal nerve root compression.

3. Understanding your gravitational support base. This is where we inspect the stance. For a solid foundation of a house to exist, it is paramount that it be built on a completely level field. The foundation of the stance depends on the balance of the feet, the structural integrity of the arches, the leg length balance and the spread of the feet on the ground. The further the feet are spread, the steadier the stance. The closer the center of gravity is to the ground, the steadier the stance will be also. Orthotics have become a helpful corrective device in maintaining proper gravitational support and aid in a balanced gait as they adjust for any arch and leg length imbalances. Now consider the effect of gravity on your legs. Veins utilize valves to return blood to the heart against gravity. If these valves become weakened, then varicose veins emerge as auxiliary vessels to attempt to return blood upwards. Compression stockings have been successfully used as an assistive device to create a pump for blood to flow upwards against gravity.

Postural screening and testing for these imbalances has become much more innovative, informative and visual in recent years. It remains a simple yet effective way to gain clarity and understanding of how common postural shifts brought on by repetitive texting, driving, standing, and computer use can lead to chronic fatigue and pain symptoms.

Want to learn more about corrective posture training programs? Check out my website at postureclinic,ca to learn more about advanced comprehensive postural correction in today’s computer based information age society.

Gravity is also a component of entropy. Entropy is derived from the second law of thermodynamics which states that the natural, random state of the universe is for disorder. With the aid of gravity, it takes less than 10 seconds to mess up and damage a room , but it may take hours of active effort and energy utilization to restore it back to its clean, structurally ordered state. Chaos and destructive disorder are easily attainable feats, but maintaining structural order demands deliberate constant, actionable effort and energy. Lets look next time at a productive use of effort to maintain gravitational order in our daily lifestyle.

Can you think of any postural imbalances in your daily routine that are being adversely affected by gravity? Can you see the direct effect on your body?

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