First, let’s define an athlete (roughly).
ath·lete ˈaTHˌlēt/ noun: athlete; plural noun: athletes
Thank you, internet.
While some of us may fancy ourselves athletes, others are active merely as a health staple: heart health, brain health, weight loss, tapping the brakes on aging, etc. Still, others have more of a weekend warrior approach. Whether you consider yourself an athlete or not, you are a human that uses movement to heave yourself around this planet. So, we should move proficiently, right?
Let's Start With Standing - Here we will go over six hallmarks to ensure proper footing.
1. Foot Placement
The most common stance I see outside the office is the duck foot position. This position occurs when both feet are angled outward or away from each other. This stance puts uneven forces on the knees and may result in overpronation. Overpronation occurs when the feet have a tendency to roll inwards, which can lead to bunion formation, abnormal callous formation, and even arthritis.
And guess what, if you are standing like a duck, you are running like a duck as well.
This means that as you are pounding the pavement all of those abnormal forces are being transferred up to your hips, knees, and low back. Knees hurt? Check your stance.
The feet should be parallel to one another. If you picture the foot without toes, it looks like a rectangle. You want to put even an distribution of weight on each corner of the rectangle. I may explain it a little better IRL:
We have all heard it.
People shrink as they get older.
But what does that mean?
Why does it happen?
Is there anything we can do to stop it?
I, for one, do not want to shrink. I am six feet tall, and I never want to have to tell anyone that I am anything under that. (I may be 5'11 3/4). Shhh.
I am going to tell you how people shrink.
We all walk around the world on 2 legs (hopefully), while swinging our arms, which are all connected to our spine. The vertebra, or bones of the spine, are designed to protect your spinal cord, like armor. This is good thing as it is through this cord that your brain is able to communicate with your body.
However, the bones of the spinal cord MUST be able to move separately and independently of each other so we can do complex motions like twist, bend, kick a soccer ball, and get dressed in the morning. Your discs are like these shiny, hydrated shock absorbers that are located between each of your spinal bones to cushion them as you move about the world and your life.
What happens as we go through all of the things we go through in life - aging, poor posture, car accidents, traumatic birth, work/ relationship related stress, having your brother punch you in the face while you jump on the couch together when you are 6 years old (That last one may be a personal story) - What happens as all of these events happen in your life is that the bones in your back become locked up and stop moving. This is known as a subluxation.
At this point, you may or may not have pain. One of the things that happens when you have a subluxation, is that the disc in between the spinal bones that have stopped moving, starts to have fluid leech from it. This happens because the disc is avascular, meaning that it does not receive any blood flow. No blood = no water & no nutrients.
So how does the disc survive then?!?
Your shiny disc shock absorbers receive nutrients from movement. So when your spinal bones stop moving, your disc gets dehydrated and starts to degenerate. I am sure you know and have seen an older person that has started to hunch forward with age - This is how we shrink.
The sad thing is that I see teens and young professionals with this posture as well! Our smart phones are keeping us super connected, but wreaking havoc on our posture and our height.
Are you headed for a life as a shorter adult? Learn how to check your posture and see if you have it under control after watching here:
Stay tall, my friends.
Dr. Drwencke is a sports chiropractor, speaker, & clinical athlete in San Francisco. Her posts reflect some of the day to day interactions and questions from patients and clients. Dr. Drwencke strives to empower people through injury rehab and sports performance to lead healthy, productive lives.