Have you ever noticed how great a child’s posture is? Always standing straight, it’s beautiful to look at. Then, as we turn into adults, we start to slouch, and at about the same time, lower back pain kicks in. Coincidence? Nope. Posture is one of the most important things we can do for our body, especially when we spend countless hours on our feet, in front of a computer, and holding our kiddos. Breezy Mama talks with Dr. Tim Brown, sports medicine expert and creator of IntelliSkin, which just released the first-ever sports posture bra (Empower PostureCue Sports Bra) on why standing tall is important (one hint–it slows down your aging process) and what we can do to keep our body aligned and healthy, including exercises you can do at work (which won’t embarrass you in front of your coworkers).
Let’s start at the beginning — when one has good posture, how, exactly, is their body aligned?
The classic posture model is to have specific landmarks on your body aligned when viewed from the sides, front and back. When we are on our feet, we rarely stand still – in fact, we stand on two feet only 15% of the time we spend on our feet. So, learning to improve posture during all movement activities becomes a challenge for all of us. Ears centered over shoulders, shoulders over hip joints, hip joints over knees, knees over ankles is a good way to remember…
Why is having good posture so important for us?
Posture affects the health and wellness of every cell and every system in our bodies. It affects our respiration, heart rate, mood, digestion and immunity, which in turn impacts how we look, feel and perform.
Poor quality of basic daily movements and poor quality of static posture (ie slouching in a chair) over time are THE root cause of muscle imbalance, which research shows IS the actual cause of most musculoskeletal injuries (like back pain, headaches, shoulder, hip and knee injuries). Good posture means better breathing and greater uptake of oxygen from each breath. Since much of the aging process has been defined as a lack of oxygen getting to your cells (this means skin too), you can improve your anti-aging program by keeping your shoulders down and back, and holding for seven-second little bits (10-30 times) throughout the day, while breathing into your belly through your nose, and looking straight ahead, holding shoulders down and back.
If you improve your posture, you WILL improve your health and overall well-being.
Many moms experience “new mom back” from lugging their baby around in the carrier, breastfeeding, and carrying their baby. How can they counteract this?
There are so many changes that occur naturally in the body that can cause muscle and back pain during pregnancy, so maintaining good posture, body movement and alignment awareness is a must.
For women who are caring for newborns, or even those who are tasked with spending many hours hunched over a desk or computer, or doing housework, there is obviously a greater posture challenge. For this very reason, I created the first-ever sports posture bra (Empower PostureCue Sports Bra) that actually supports your front from the back, just like Mother Nature intended! Its revolutionary design stimulates the posture muscles in your upper back to tone, support and lift your spine and chest so you get an instant improvement. The bra cues your chest muscles to relax and stretch and open, allowing your shoulders to be pulled down and back into a more optimal posture.
Are there specific exercises that a new mom can do to prevent back problems?
A few tips I always suggest:
1. Be a puller and not a pusher when you train: the key is doing exercises that place you in good posture as you end the movement (like rowing, pull ups, etc).
2. Focus on stretching and opening the front of your body while performing strengthening exercises for the back. I recommend an exercise system called Foundation Training for returning to optimal functional core, posture, post partum fitness. It’s the same system some of the best athletes in the world (including Lance Armstrong, Kelly Slater, and Derek Fisher) choose to use. The system is very simple and absolutely remarkable in its results.
3. Wear the IntelliSkin posture shirt or bra regularly because it helps support and improve posture while you wear it. It’s actually a scientifically-proven workout for your posture muscles – and the stronger you are, the less likely you’ll encounter back problems.
Moms are usually doing the housework–vacuuming, washing dishes, dusting, all of which can make your lower back very tired. Should we be holding our bodies a certain way to prevent this?
First, it’s important to learn that most of us do not move as well as we did when we were kids. In fact, we moved very well at age four, but all the sitting and becoming right or left side dominant has made our posture suffer. Throw in a few injuries, working at our computers, then going through pregnancy and our bodies become used to bad movements…so learning or relearning how to perform key basic movements like a proper hip hinge is important.
Why? Because how you move is how you can prevent muscle pain and back injuries. Learning how to move better and maintain good alignment also provides a great workout by the time the housework is done!
Are there stretches that we can do after an especially tiring day? For those moms that are constantly in a chair, at the computer are there exercises (that she won’t be embarrassed of doing in her office) that she can do? How often should they be done?
A good rule of thumb is to stretch and open the muscles you use the most throughout the day. Never go to sleep short, always stretch and move to get muscles long to stay posture fit and core strong.
All the work and repeated movements you are doing each day causes tension and shortens the muscles we use the most often. You will look like what you do the most! If you are bent over the computer, vacuuming, doing dishes and or other forms of everyday housework, your muscles are or will soon become tight and sore and can make you feel like a “hunchyback” mom.
Make sure to stretch those muscles, take slow, deep breaths through your nose into your belly and hold for about seven counts. Open your chest, forearms and wrists by partially stepping through and grabbing the frame of a normal-sized doorway and leaning forward (like a swan dive), or do a few simple yoga poses, like camel and cobra and downward dog, to help reverse the negative effects of the poor posture that our normal life activities cause.
Other great remedies that can help you unwind and align your parts include Thai Chi and Pilates. One of my favorites is the beginners’ series from Foundation Training. I especially like the “Founder” to help undo the effects of sitting and/or working on the computer. The resistance comes from gravity and your own muscle imbalances that are responsible for most muscle soreness, tension and even injury.
Anything else that we need to keep in mind?
One factoid to remember when you’re hunched over the computer or carrying the kids around: for every inch your ears are in front of your shoulders, an additional 10 lbs. of weight is being placed on your body. Therefore, incorrect posture is affecting so many other areas that you may not realize.
Posture health is an extremely important, yet sometimes unnoticed, element to your overall well-being. New moms are particularly susceptible to posture issues, so it calls for active participation — educate yourself about your posture. Good health is the best prize there is. Nothing beats feeling healthy and vital by learning to move more efficiently, eat a plant-based diet, hydrate and focus on living in the present moment. You will look and feel better for it!
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He has more than 25 years of experience, working with some of the world’s biggest athletes across a range of sports. With his many personal athletic injury experiences as a former college football player, pro beach volleyball player, and skilled surfer/snowboarder, Dr. Brown knows firsthand about the frustration of injury and the painstaking process of rehab and recovery.
In the early 1980s, while working as the Medical Director for the AVP (Assoc. of Volleyball Professionals), Dr. Brown revolutionized the world of sports taping with his *S.P.R.T. (Specific Proprioceptive Response Taping) technique, which was the first to utilize Kinesio tape for Functional, Structural, and Neuro-muscular issues. (*S.P.R.T stimulates the body’s natural healing process by aligning and compressing soft tissue injuries in the direction of relief and correction.)
Over the years, Dr. Brown taught S.P.R.T. to thousands of doctors both in and outside the sports medicine field, including chiropractors and physical therapists. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, professional beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh attracted a lot of attention when she won a gold medal, while wearing a version of S.P.R.T. for an injured shoulder.
Dr. Brown worked and traveled with the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Tour, and his SPRT taping system became more popular with athletes around the world. There were increasingly growing numbers of requests for Tim to figure out a way to make the tape last longer than the customary 2-3 days, and to make the protocol easier to utilize. Coupled with Tim’s increasing experience, understanding, and frustration of conventional bracing methods, he began experimenting with a variety of products, from wetsuits to rash guards, to a number of materials on the market, eventually set up a sewing station in his house.
Decades after working with countless elite and professional athletes from the NBA, NFL, MLB, Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) and Action Sports, Dr. Brown created the latest evolution in Functional Performance apparel, IntelliSkin.
For his innovative work with athletes and athletic governing bodies, Dr. Brown has been recognized as the American Chiropractic Association’s Sports Chiropractor of the Year and received the American Chiropractic Association Award of Meritorious Achievement.
Dr. Brown received a Bachelor in Arts from the University of Redlands and Bachelor in Science from the Cleveland Chiropractic College in Los Angeles, before earning a Doctor of Chiropractic Degree from CCC. He currently resides in Newport Beach, California.
To reach IntelliSkin, you can call their customer service line at: (949) 797-2813.