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Dec 16, 2007

Reduce Back Pain By Standing Aligned

If you are interested in healing from chronic back, neck, shoulder or hip pain, then it is important to work on improving your alignment. Misalignment plays a major role in the onset of neuromuscular problems and pain. So what causes misalignment? Accidents and genetic factors can contribute to misalignment, but the single most important cause of misalignment is the way we use our bodies.

Think of how many hours you spend each day sitting in a chair. Perhaps you lean on one hip more than the other, or hunch forward or drop or crane your head as you read or work at your desk. Perhaps when you stand, you unwittingly lean forward or back, or stand with your weight primarily on one leg.

Improper habits of walking can also be a major source of misalignment. The average person walks 8000 steps a day, or approximately 75,000 miles by the age of fifty. If we spend years walking out of alignment, the body inevitably cries out in pain.

Thousands of years ago, when we lived closer to nature, the demands of our lives encouraged us to develop proper alignment. Today, many factors contribute to inefficient alignment: our sedentary lifestyle, the harsh impact on our bodies of cement walkways and overly soft sofas, crowded spaces, everyday stresses that cause us to contract our muscles in tension, lack of public knowledge of the principles of good body use--these are just a few of the sources of misalignment.

How Can You Correct Your Alignment?

Most of us are not aware of when our bodies are misaligned. The way we use our bodies is habitual, and habits are generally unconscious. We do not think about the way we stand, sit, and walk. We just do these things the way we have always done them. In addition, habits have a way of perpetuating themselves. They feel right simply because they are familiar.

In order to effectively correct your alignment, you have to notice your habits of use, for example in the ways you stand, sit and walk, and then change them so as to move with greater ease. Part of doing this involves slowing down enough to observe what you usually do habitually and without thought. Below you will find a simple example of how to improve your alignment, by noticing just one aspect of how you stand. As you improve your alignment, the bones of your legs, rather than your muscles, will carry your weight, and the muscles will be able to relax more.

Improve the Way you Stand

Stand the way you normally stand. Observe how you do this. Are your knees locked or are they slightly bent? Once you have noticed whether or not you habitually lock your knees, and many people with chronic pain do, then see if you can unlock your knees. To do this, simply bend them very slightly and gently. This might feel wobbly at first, but it is critical to the health of your body.

Many people stand with their knees pulled back or locked. This gives a false sense of stability, because the legs become rigid. Unfortunately, locking your knees creates problems. The most obvious problem is that locked knees stress the knee joints. But there is more, lots more.

Locked knees cause the pelvis to tilt forward, putting pressure on the hips that can cause hip pain, and also creating a swayback. You can easily observe this swayback if you stand sideways in front of a mirror and alternate between locking and unlocking your knees. A swayback puts the entire spine out of alignment. It causes muscles in the low back, neck and shoulders to overwork in order to support the spine, leading to pain in those areas and to spinal degeneration.

By unlocking your knees, you move your pelvis and hips into better alignment and reduce unnecessary pressure on the muscles. If you initially feel less stable in doing this, this is because you are used to associating stability with feeling rigid. The feeling of instability will soon pass, to be replaced by a sense of greater balance.

When you stand while talking to a friend or wait in line at the grocery store, try to notice whether your knees are locked or free. When you find your knees locked, simply unlock them. You will find standing much less tiring.

© 2007 Ingrid Bacci PhD
Written by: Ingrid Bacci PhD, CST, an internationally recognized healer, bodyworker, author and teacher of self-empowerment. For free information and products on mind-body healing from chronic pain and stress, visit http://ingridbacci.com/ For Ingrid's books, a) Effortless Pain Relief and b) The Art of Effortless Living, go to http://amazon.com

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