Take a Load Off

Understanding the biomechanics of how we load our bodies.

Did you know the way we carry (load) our bodies plays a vital role in our capacity to lift weights and exercise effectively? Understanding ‘loads’ can greatly improve your proprioception (perception or awareness of the position and movement of the body) and result in improved biomechanics with regards to how we move our bodies!

The basic premise of loads can be understood as the way that you carry weight on your body. For example, if you were carrying a backpack and it weighed 5 kilos, would you sling it over your left shoulder, right shoulder, both? Or maybe carry it with one arm outstretched to the side. Even though the backpack weighs the same in each scenario, the way you are loading the weight to your body is significantly different and recruits different muscles in the body. This is called load variance. In each of the scenarios, the unique loads create a stress profile to the body. So think about the different situations you find yourself in and how you usually carry a load - groceries, children, furniture etc.

Now let's look at this in context to your posture. You’ve started your day in the office and after a few hours you start to slump back in your chair which flexes your lower back and changes the load on your body. Instead of exerting pressure through your sitting bones, you’re now putting extra pressure through your lumbar spine. In turn, your upper back rounds forward and your neck and head start to weigh down on your cervical spine which creates extra pressure on your vertebrae. This can cause a number of pain points in the body, from the head through to lower back.

To create a more beneficial sitting posture for your body you should load your weight through your sitting bones by shifting your pelvis forward. Think about shifting the upper body slightly in front of your hips with shoulders relaxed and chin raised which then creates a balanced way to load pressure through your body whilst sitting. This engages the correct postural muscles to maintain an up-right spine whilst keeping pressure off the lower back. Having this perspective in mind whilst doing something as basic as sitting can have a substantial impact on your overall postural function. How often were you told to "sit up straight" when you were at school? It would have built better habits for life!

These habitual sitting patterns left unchecked can affect your physiology, which could impact your mood, energy levels and physical performance. By gaining an understanding of how your body reacts to loads and more effective ways to manage those loads, you can start your journey to pain free living and movement.

Taking this to the bigger stage and creating awareness and understanding of load when you add additional weight through exercising (strength & weight lifting), or in general life (lifting kids or loads at work) will help you create better functional habits, reducing the risk of injury major or minor.

This is why we feel it is really important to provide awareness around functional movement and basic form exercises when you visit us for treatments. The more understanding you have, the greater your self awareness in movement will be.

If this brings up some questions for you, chat to one of our therapists about how important movement awareness is for your specific circumstances or book in for a Hybrid Session to get some great functional movement tips.

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