Alignment 101: Why We Teach Alignment
Sep 14, 2018
At Advanced Balance Clinic, we teach body alignment to help get people moving better. But there tends to be confusion around the term alignment.
When we refer to alignment, we mean the positioning of each of your body parts relative to each other. For example, if you are standing and you look down, where is your foot pointed relative to your hip? Is it angled out, angled in, or pointed straight forward?
And for most people, the first question is, "why does this matter?" It seems silly to spend so much time exploring these subtle variations of your body.
But it is important. And there are several reasons why.
The human body is complicated. When we focus on alignment, we also realize this is far from the whole picture. Take chronic pain, for example. Alignment work might be a good start for some people, but pain is more complex than meets the eye. As we've discussed in the past, research shows that chronic pain has nothing to do with what we call “posture”. And there isn't even a strong connection between chronic pain and the severity of the injury. For example, someone with terrible "posture" or very advanced arthritis may have no pain. Others have perfect "posture" without arthritis and are in severe pain.
So why spend so much time worrying about alignment?
Alignment is a Learning Tool
Alignment is a tool we use to learn more about ourselves. It reveals our lifelong patterns of movement and gives us the keys to make our movement better.
Take the above example of bringing awareness to where your feet are angled relative to your hip in your natural standing position. Depending on your foot position, you change the forces experienced by the knee and the hip. This, in turn, alters the muscle groups you use while you are standing and moving about. We want to emphasize that changing the forces through your knee does not exactly equate to an increase or a decrease in pain! But, how you use your joints and muscles depends on the position of your feet in this example.
Alignment may or may not change your chronic pain, but if you want your body to function better it's a great starting point. If you want to improve balance, your pelvic floor, or the bone density of your hips the position of your feet matters.
Alignment Gets ALL of You Moving
Alignment is a way to get parts of your body moving that are underutilized. There is no such thing as perfect movement, so when we focus on alignment the goal is not perfection. We avoid defining movement as “good” or “bad”, all movement is just movement. Our goal is to get you moving in new and different ways to help you learn how to change your movement for better health.
Alignment Brings Mindfulness to Movement
Learning alignment also brings mindfulness to your movement. Alignment causes you to shift your learning process, question yourself, and problem solve. These are important skills at any phase of life!
Alignment also helps bring awareness to the fact that not all movement is the same. Different movement has different effects on the body. So depending on your mobility goals, you might need to change the ways in which you move. To get started with alignment, check out our overview of foot alignment. Starting at your foundation is the best place to start!
We hope this clarified the discussion around alignment. Everyone benefits from an alignment practice, from elite athletes to sedentary individuals. Get started today by observing how you move and share with us what you learn!