May is Posture Month – The Evolution of Posture

Living in our bodies has become more demanding as we move through a World that increasingly challenges us to limit our mobility for hours on end, as well as become Weekend Warriors in a variety of Fitness venues. In an effort to catch up with much needed movement and exercise after a long “immobile” week, we find that we are injuring ourselves repeatedly because our muscles are not conditioned.

Reviewing the fossil record related to Human evolution to land, we find that our species emerged from the water eons ago. While living in the water as fish, our boney spine shielded our simple nervous system and we moved about with our vital parts below us, protected from predators.

Then, as we began to evolve onto the land, we maintained a crouched position with an ever-stronger spine. This posture continued to protect our vital organs below us, while the boney spine at the top of us (our back body) protected our nervous system.  As land animals, this arrangement of moving about as quadrupeds, was probably our most at-ease in-body structure while on the earth.

But, probably not satisfied, we needed more.  Carrying our babies and moving about on all fours, took a lot of effort.  As well, we needed to reach, and at times climb.  We began to evolve ourselves upright into what has been at times called “walking towers.”  This effort, I believe still to be in its evolution, has been challenging.  In fact, we know that back pain, in all of myriad forms, is rampant across the Globe, and is the number one chronic issue of the physical body.

Add to this, our fast-paced World, focused on mass production, at the immense cost of our bodies as the stationary tools to this goal.  When we were hunter-gatherers, nomadic in nature, each day included movement in a variety of ways, ranging our joints, challenging our muscles, and most importantly, keeping our nervous system pathways alive and generating new energy.

A great many of the population of modern cultures across the Globe now spend their movement times driving instead of walking, letting computers find navigational routes for us, storing phone numbers and addresses in our phones instead of memorizing them, eating over-processed foods in the name of saving time, and bombarding the nervous system with continuous stimuli, such as television and computers, from the moment we wake until we go to sleep.

What does this have to say about our evolution?  Our technology is certainly evolving rapidly, based on computers – but what about us humans – our skills, our creativity?  Could we be devolving in our biology?  Just a thought…

Indeed, we do know that our body and its actions have been wired throughout our evolution to respond to stress in ways that keep us surviving.  Our bodies are made for movement and adaptation.  However, the overlay of our pandemic sedentary lifestyles combined with the constant barrage of external stimulation and stress both psychologically and physically have created poor response – thus chronic illness and structural/postural inefficiencies.

In Naudi Aguilar’s “The Power of Posture,” he discusses how our body patterns take perceived stressful situations when in nature and rely on “the muscular use of the legs…in conjunction with the core stabilizers…to optimally leverage its body to sprint” with efficiency.  Unfortunately, most stress coming into us modern humans are when we are seated for long amounts of time and psychologically overtaxed.  Instead of getting up and moving our large muscles to shift and create a release, we have somehow bypassed how nature wants us to respond for our health – and instead we let our minds keep us as we are.  Over time our bodies tighten up, our brains take on these new patterns programming them in, and a “dysfunctional body, which fails to utilize the efficient musculature it took millions of years of evolution and optimal adaptation to associate,” takes over.

Look for another email about starting an annual self postural assessment in the coming weeks, and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for tips throughout the month addressing posture as a path toward optimal wellness and efficient movement.

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