Discover The Three Special Benefits of Good Alignment
By Colette Barry, B.M.I., L.M.T., R.Y.T.
One of the things yoga teaches is a continual awareness of how one body part relates to another. For example, improper alignment of the spine can cause headaches, shoulder discomfort and even the achy teeth that are associated with TMJ (jaw joint) disorders.
Perfect Alignment Through Muscle Memory
When we become lazy with our posture, we strain our hips and shoulder joints. This can wreak havoc on the arm and leg joints. Another downside of poor body alignment is that the body actually becomes fatigued faster because of the constant effort required to maintain balance.
When we exercise, we can actually teach our body how to acquire and maintain perfect alignment by using muscle memory. Whether we perform an exercise correctly or not, our muscles will create a memory of the alignment. After that, the muscles will be inclined to duplicate that image for each future repetition. That’s why performing a new exercise correctly the first few times is essential. We want to create an enduring effect.
When we exercise, every effort should be made to attain a well-centered body. This allows our body to function at its peak. However, this only happens when the body is properly aligned. To help us achieve proper alignment, we must take a serious look at the body’s core.
The Core of the Body
The core is the fulcrum for all other body parts. By the core, I mean the muscles of the midsection and back that are responsible for support and posture.
Some of these muscles include:
– The Transversus Abdominis wraps around the midsection like a corset just underneath those six-pack abs.
– The Pelvic Floor acts like a basket containing all the abdominal organs. It also acts as a hip stabilizer.
– The Diaphragm is a sheet of muscle that aids in respiration.
– The Multifidus runs the length of the spine and helps keep us upright.
As the core goes, so goes the rest of the body. When we neglect our core, we lose our center of balance and the body begins to compensate for the misalignment. Compensation for misalignment leads to pain and joint/muscle fatigue and breakdown.
Core work is essential to any workout routine. By zoning in our focus and using the core as our guide, we can quickly and accurately pursue the ultimate prize—a stable and strong body.
Greater development of the core can be achieved by using props like a slant board, or the gravity glide board found on the Total Trainer® home fitness machine. In addition, a slant or glide board increases stability in every plane of the body. These boards greatly aid proper alignment attainment throughout all range of motion. And with greater stability comes increased confidence in every movement.
So, let’s take a look at three benefits that come with proper alignment during exercise:
- Good Alignment creates a more harmonious relationship between the mind, body, and spirit. There is a mind-body-spirit connection that gets impeded when the body is misaligned. A certain movement may appear to be strengthening only a particular muscle group. However, when done correctly, it may be increasing circulation to a vital organ as well, which benefits our emotional and physical balance.
- By mastering good alignment, you achieve greater efficiency during workouts. When our body is improperly aligned during exercise, it will naturally compensate for ineffective movement. That means we’re working harder with less benefit and nobody wants that. We always, always, always, want to perform any exercise while in a state of power and strength. When we align the body properly, we optimize its power and strength. We work less but achieve maximum results.
- Proper alignment during exercise decreases the chance of injury. The quickest way to injury is improper alignment during movement. We want our exercise routine to strengthen and rehabilitate, not weaken and debilitate.
And if those three reasons were not enough, maintaining proper alignment during exercise just looks and feels better! When the body is locked into ultimate alignment, it’s like plugging it into a socket—we receive a jolt maximum energy and optimal performance every time!