Are you always on your feet? Learn how to make it a bit less stressful on your body with this month’s post from Amanda Skidmore, our Aston® Kinetics Practitioner.
When we stand for long periods of time, we often go “on hold.” Two of the most common tendencies are to widen our stance and lock our knees, or hike one hip up and lock the knee on the same side. It seems like this bracing should make things easier on our bodies, but it’s usually not the case.
Generally, our bodies work most efficiently when the skeleton is balanced on top of itself. Following this logic, a wide stance can be very useful when you are shifting your upper body from side to side (ex: playing tennis), but not so much when standing in a stationary position with your arms close in to your body.
Give this exercise a try:
• First, adopt a wide stance, with your feet further out than your hips. Try and notice if your pelvis is in front of, even with, or in back of your upper body.
• Rotate your upper body to the left and right, around your central axis, and note how far you can comfortably rotate to each side.
• Now, bring your feet more directly underneath you, to where your feet are under your pelvis, and let your knees soften (the knees can both bend and tighten, but aren’t held in either position). Notice the position of your pelvis in relationship to your upper body (is it in front of, even with, or in back of your upper body?), and rotate again.
• How is each position different? Does the position of your pelvis and upper body change with the position of your feet? Does one position allow you a greater range of motion in the rotation? Go back to the wider stance and compare again. Tip: It is in going back and forth from option A, to B, and then back to A that you can really start to tell if there are any differences.
• Now repeat the rotation exercise with the hip hike/locked knee pattern. How does it change your range of motion? Again, go back and forth between the hip hike stance and the position where your feet are directly underneath your pelvis and notice any differences.
Many people find that the narrower stance gives better support for the pelvis and upper body (allowing their weight to be more evenly distributed on top of the feet and legs), while also allowing for a more comfortable and wider rotation around their central axis. Why are these useful things to consider when standing in a stationary position? Because they point to a body that is more easily able to relax into itself without collapsing or going on hold.
So now that we have the body in a more supported position within itself, let’s add one more component. Experiment with seeing what it feels like when you shift your weight ever so slightly from one foot to the other, and even from the ball of your left foot, over to the ball of the right foot, then the right heel, left heel, and then back over the whole foot. Make sure you initiate the shifting from your feet and not your hips. Compare this small weight transfer from side to side with a held position. Does that slight movement through the body help keep you from locking up in your knees and lower back?
“Okay,” you may say. “This is all great, but I don’t have time to think about these things.” Fair enough. The quick takeaway? Keep your feet underneath your pelvis, and allow for slight movement through the body to help you stay both relaxed and supported. Do you have to stand like this all the time- absolutely not! But when you feel yourself locking into place, know that you have other options available to you.