March 15, 2018

From Flat Feet to Rounded Shoulders, Do not Take for Granted Being Able to Improve Your Body

Man Running

Improving posture is not as difficult as it seems. You can improve the arches in your foot. Even walking with duck feet or having knees that bend in when you run can be changed. Do not think that just because you have been doing something all your life and it feels normal, that that is the correct way to do it or that it cannot be improved.

Not many children are taught at a young age how to move correctly. Teachers, parents, and coaches will send a child out for recess, to play with friends, but never coach them how to run with good form or generally exercise properly. The children can then grow up never having been taught how to actually sit and stand up straight, or what proper ranges of motion look and feel like. I know this was my story. My elementary physical education class did not cover how to move my body, correct running or squatting technique, or what sound posture was. It is important for these principles to start early but it is never too late to fix them. Once someone gets older and puts more miles on their bodies, the bad movement habits become ingrained and feel “natural” even though they are not. They also may be detrimental to your fitness and health. I am here to tell you, do not take anything for granted on your body. If your posture, foot strike, or something else has always been a little off, it is likely there is a fix for it that is easily explained. It may take a fair amount of diligence but I know you can handle that. Below are few examples to help illustrate my point.

Example #1: Rounded Shoulders

Rounded shoulders are pretty widely known as a sign of poor posture. I also believe most people know that it is fixable. The reason I am adding it is as an example is because of how common it is, and the relative simplicity with which it can be fixed. I want you to try this: stand up. C’mon stand-up… Do ittttt… Thanks. Okay now, look at your thumbs. Are they facing inward? If they are, turn them to face straight forward. Did you feel your shoulders straighten? Most likely you did and you also engaged postural muscles you haven’t engaged in far too long. Walk around with your thumbs forward. Wait in lines with your thumbs forward. The hardest part of posture is getting over the initial awkwardness you may feel because you aren’t used to engaging the correct muscles. It does take diligence to constantly engage them, but only at first. Simple cues like “thumbs forward” go a long way in helping the impossible (getting rid of rounded shoulders) seem very manageable.

Example #2: Flat Feet

Yes, you can build an arch in your foot! There are muscles in the arch that need to be activated is all. This fact often comes as a surprise to most, but physical therapists have been using a few easy tricks for arches for a while. Those tricks are not always named “wear orthotics” anymore. If you have flat feet, that means the arch in your foot has collapsed. Flat feet can result in stretched tendons in your ankles, hip dysfunction, and a tendency to cave in your knees while running or jumping. Fixes for flat feet include soft tissue mobilization techniques for your foot, calf and ankle stretches, and the pencil-penny test. The pencil-penny is an interesting one that I will expand on. You put a penny under the ball of your big toe, and a pencil perpendicular to the arch of your foot. The goal is to activate the muscles in your arch by lessening pressure on the pencil (therefore raising your arch) while keeping pressure on the penny. The test is easiest while sitting down, so try it while seated first. Eventually, you will want to be able to keep those muscles activated while walking, running, sitting, and any other activity you can think of.

Example #3: Wrist Pain

Wrist pain is in reference to exercising. Another common misconception is that if someone has wrist pain during a pushup, dip, or in a front rack position, they should avoid the exercise altogether or find an alternative way to do it. If there is an underlying issue with an individual’s wrist, I agree. In my experience, however, it is often pain from lack of flexibility. Your wrists need to be put through full ranges of motion the same as your muscles and other joints. The pushup position is a good way to do it. Keep the muscles around your wrist strong through wrist curls, and be sure to never neglect getting into a pushup position and finding new ways to test your wrist range of motion.

Hopefully, you have questions on how to improve your own posture or flexibility after reading this. Please ask! Feel free to
email me with inquiries.

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