Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Using a Chair to Check Alignment

My clients and patients alike are usually surprised when the first thing I do is have them perch on the edge of a chair. The truth is that using a chair for support can be a great way to teach yourself to improve any exercise form and/or to begin unraveling postural distortion in a very gentle but effective way. It's also a great way to check and improve T-Tapp form. Finally, it can be similarly used to take the momentum out of weight training but that's another post. This is the first in a series of posts. If you don't presently use the T-Tapp method but enjoy these movements you might really click with the T-Tapp method.

So let's give it a try. Really, pull up a chair, one without arms if possible and have a seat.

  • The first thing you want to do is sit on the edge of the chair. You don't want to lean against the back of the chair because you want to force your core and back muscles to work.
  • Next, look down and make certain that your knees are right in front of your hip bones - there should be space between your legs and your heels should be directly below your knees and your feet should point straight ahead. If possible lift all your toes off the floor and place them back down while spreading them apart and reaching them long.
  • Now check your shoulders. You want them to be right above your hips. Sit tall. Make an effort to create length and space in your back. Imagine that you've slipped foam spacers between each vertebra.
  • Level your chin and look straight ahead. Alternately duck your chin back and then poke your chin forward until you find the sweet spot between the two extremes.
  • Now drop your hands to your sides and turn your palms forward. You want your inner elbow creases to be straightened and facing front, which will open your shoulder.
  • Roll your shoulders front, up back and squeeze your shoulder blades together, front, up, back and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Repeat this movement 3 or 4 times. Then reverse the movement. Make the movement big and really LIFT the shoulders. This can help loosen the fascia in the shoulder, neck and back area. Stuck together fascia is a pain generator and impedes postural restructuring. Loosening it up is a win win situation.
Now sit there and feel what being in alignment feels like. You might be tempted to vow to sit this way every minute that you sit in a chair. Been there, done that and honestly it's not healthy or necessary to get too crazy about it. Just take the time to put yourself in alignment when you think about it or when your habitual posture reminds you to do so. Putting yourself into this alignment is a great way to learn T-Tapp form but it's also great for improving your proprioception. (Your ability to know where your body is in space.)

Next up, I'll have you align yourself with the chair and work on the T-Tapp neck movements.

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