When all parts of the human body are in line, we have perfect health. When they are not, the effect is disease. When the parts are readjusted, disease gives place to health. ~ A. T. Still, Founder of Osteopathy
Clients often ask me why alignment matters and why I’m so focused on it. Here’s the expanded version of my answer.
Alignment is the foundation of health. Your body must constantly deal with gravity. Muscles resist the downward force of mass to keep you upright. Ideal alignment stacks the skeleton like a tower of blocks, minimizing the strain on the muscles. Optimal muscle length is necessary for the full range of movement but also for the flow of blood, lymph, and electricity (nerve impulses) throughout your entire body.
The body’s job is to replicate cells. Optimal flow allows cells to regenerate quickly and correctly. Your tissues receive fresh oxygen and nutrients, and wastes are removed, keeping us healthy. All of our organs and systems, not just muscles, need healthy circulation. Optimal flow requires correct alignment; physics determines proper alignment. ￼
What is Correct Alignment?
From the side view our ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle should be in a vertical line, directly under each other. From the front and back view, we should be level from side to side. Feet pointing straight ahead, outside edges parallel at pelvic width. Shoulder blades wide and flat. Arms at sides with elbow pits and thumbs facing forward. I know, a lot of detail.
Where does osteopathy fit in the alignment picture? “The rule of the artery is absolute” is one of the guiding principles of osteopathic assessment and treatment. The ‘rule’ applies to the flow of all fluids and nerve impulses. My job is to detect and correct alterations in position and mobility throughout your entire body to optimize flow. Treatment promotes better function, reduces symptoms and restores health.
I want to educate people about alignment and teach them ways to help themselves. A few exercises, a change in how (or how much) you sit, the type of shoes you wear, etc… Simple changes in habits can add up and make a big difference over time.
Have a full-length mirror? Take a minute to check out how you stack up. Kick off your shoes (any heel will throw your weight forward). Are your major joints in line? Pelvis forward? Try untucking your butt and shifting it back in line with your heels. You should be able to lift your toes. Drop the front of your ribs. Can you feel how your low back is less compressed and it’s easier to breathe into the back and sides of your lower ribs? Slide your head back without lifting your chin until your ear is over your shoulder. How does that feel? Taller? More stable? Now exhale and relax.
Of course, I realize that change isn’t easy. Almost everyone reacts with “that feels weird” or “I can’t stand like that” at first. Of course it seems strange and is difficult; you’ve been living differently in your body for quite some time. It takes patience and persistence to make changes but you can, and it pays off!
Alignment matters; that’s why it’s a primary focus in my practice! What are your challenges? If you’re having a hard time, let me know. I can determine what’s holding you back and get you moving in the right direction.
P.S. You might want to read Katy Bowman’s Alignment is Not Posture to learn about the difference between the two.