Tips From Dr. J & Mercedes

The Jordan Method, Posture
Saturday June 15, 2024 by Christopher Jordan

Who hasn’t been told, “Stand up straight, sit up straight, or don’t slouch?” Everyone of us. For those who admonished us for not carrying ourselves properly, we should be thankful. There are, however, a couple of misconceptions that need to be addressed. First and foremost, when viewed in profile our spines should be anything but straight. In the lateral view, a straight spine reveals some form of biomechanical pathology. Secondly, being poked between the shoulder blades gives the wrong message. Posture is not addressed in the upper back directly, but in the pelvic structure, with our attention in the lower belly.

Dr. Jordan has recommended the mantra, “Belly Button In,” to most everyone he encounters in his office. He will often apologize for continuously reminding his patients about their posture, but will not hesitate to do so. It is, in fact, his mission to make everyone aware of the single most important thing that we all must attend to: maintaining a healthy disposition of our physical selves. Body carriage should be on everyone’s mind as often as possible. It is the simplest thing that we all can do, yet seems to be one of the most neglected aspects of our health. “Why?” You may ask. “Because many of us have never been properly taught,” is the simple answer.

Anyone engaged in activities that focus on form will typically have a handle on healthy body carriage, proper posture. Yoga, Tai Chi, all forms of dance, martial arts, some sports are examples of activities that train us to be conscious of the position of our bodies. As a result, we become more in tune with the sensations of correct form, or when there is imbalance that needs correction. All of us can develop an awareness of how we are holding ourselves, by simply doing so. All habits that we have formed in our lives came from repetitive attention to each action or behavior. Once you establish a habit it becomes easier to sustain. Creating it in the first place is more work.

Doing a thing can be easier to achieve when you know more about it. The physical body, when considered mechanically, is not terribly hard to figure out. The first time a child is given a pile of blocks and begins to stack them, that child is experiencing the opposition of gravity against a stable base. Our intent regarding posture, is to create a stable base within a highly mobile structure. A description of our structure from the point of view of The Jordan Method (and others within the various fields involving body-work) can be found in the narrative Chiropractic Part III/IV. Considering that the form of the body is defined by its more flexible fabric, but supported by ridged structure and contractile tissue, learning to orient these elements synergistically becomes the principle goal regarding appropriate posture.

Considering that the adult human body contains over two hundred bones, it is comforting to know that we really only need to think about one when we wish to attain a well balanced postural state. Granted, in the adult, it is actually three bones, but they are bound together and move as one; and they are moving in direct relation to three others when standing, or one other when seated; and have a direct effect on many more; but you only need to think about one spot on the body. That spot is the umbilicus. Also called the navel by some or the belly button, it is centrally important in our embryological development and now our general health.

So, put your attention on your belly button, seated or standing, and gently draw it inward toward your spine until your belt line is held evenly between the front and the back. If you feel any tension in your lower back, you are pulling too hard, so release it a little. We call this the “Goldilocks” position, because it’s just right. Childhood stories can be useful. When you level your belt-line you are leveling your pelvis, you are leveling your base. Your hips are oriented properly when standing, unloading your knees, unloading your feet. Your upper back is held properly, relaxing your shoulders, providing a base for your head and neck, thus unloading your neck and reducing the tension at the base of your skull.

By maintaining proper posture we can eliminate or minimize knee pain, plantar fascial pain, mid-back and shoulder pain, neck pain and tension headaches. Most importantly, if we begin earlier in life, we prevent degenerative joint disease in all of the articular structures associated with locomotion (walking) and static support while the head rests above the shoulders (seated and standing). This means reduced arthritis of the knees, hips and spine, including inter-vertebral disc disease. This is a bold statement, I know, but worth the effort to test the hypothesis. And, the effort is no effort at all.

The muscles that we use to achieve the necessary pelvic disposition for proper posture are designed for static hold, they do not fatigue. The density of the mitochondrial organelles (the power house of the cell) in these muscle cells are high. This means that there is ample energy production to perform the muscular action necessary to sustain the hold in the pelvic structure. An example to the contrary are the deltoid muscles of the shoulder. They are not designed for static hold. Raise your arm out to the side and hold it. See. Fatigues pretty quick, doesn’t it? We can add Kegel pelvic floor contraction to the above “belly button in” hold, and you will have an even more powerful control of your posture. For anyone unfamiliar with Kegels, at the end of urination, that little pull upward of the pelvic floor is it. The pelvic floor muscles also have sustainability.

Balanced body structure, in addition to the orthopedic benefits indicated previously, will provide other health benefits as well. By unloading unnecessary compensatory muscle activity (if you are not holding your body properly, the body will try to “fix” that by engaging other parts, in other areas) you reduce energy consumption by the muscles involved and the peripheral and central (including the brain) nerves required to involve them. You reduce fatigue. With proper posture you enhance blood flow to areas of the body that may be suppressed by tissue compression due to tighter muscles or collapsed compartments (like pushing into the abdomen with the rib cage by being “bent over”). You will potentially promote better oxygenation of all tissues by maximizing pulmonary function because you are reducing the restriction to the diaphragm and opening up the chest cavity by being less “bent over.”

Posture should be addressed frequently as gravity is unrelenting. Dr. Jordan recommends for us to restore our posture every quarter hour to a more appropriate disposition, if this is practical. For all of us while our heads rest above our shoulders we must remember the mantra “Belly button in.” When we’re lying down, none of the above matters, otherwise we must all walk and sit elegantly.

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334 E. Church St. DeLand, FL 32724
(386) 736-0465

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