Monday, 3 December 2007

Posture

This is just another week when I read something, think about it, observe it and write a post about it. This time I read an article about the correct posture in modern life and aikido.

The main idea I understood was that the skeleton but especially the muscles of humans are not evolved for sitting in chairs and in front of computer screens. Our ancestors had to walk a lot, lift heavy objects and they needed the optimal body structure for this as well as a proper use of this structure. A very interesting point in the article is that knees and leg muscles (e.g. the quadriceps) of modern mankind are much weeker than those of our fathers, grandfathers, etc. We don't need to sit on the floor any more because we have chairs and tables. We don't need to lift heavy objects as often because we have forklifts :). Since we don't need to exploit our muscles and bones to achieve highest efficiency, unfortunately, we tend to use them in a far from optimal manner. Just think about how you pick up something from the floor. You will probably bend and use your muscles in your back to lift that thing. Bending becomes our default motion to 'go down' to reach something positioned low and since our body is not designed for this our back, and life at an older age, will suffer its consequences. Just to experiment, I counted how many times a day I bent instead of squatting, but I stopped counting after 40...

I think the Japanese are luckier in this sense because they still actively sit in seiza and it might be easier for them not to overuse their waists.

The proper practice to lift up something, for example, a watermelon :), would be to keep your upper body straight and upright, squat, pick up that melon and stand up while you are still in an upright position. You need to use the strength of your legs and position your hip for the ideal lifting position.

This is the same for aikido. We tend to bend too often and it's very hard to learn to keep the proper upright posture. It also sounds easier to bend when you take down your uke but as the pain in my back and waist the day after training proves there should be a better way to execute techniques. I feel lucky that we can practice suwari waza as well. There we need to use our toes and leg muscles that are otherwise not exercised and taken care of properly. We also need to use our hips so there is a higher chance that if we do it properly won't suffer that much when we grow old. And even when we grow old, we can still practice aikido which is a very good thing. Just have a look at aikido masters over 70.

1 comment:

Charlie san said...

Ohh yessssss, I could have a big presentation about how to lift things properly :P And becouse I do a lot in my work, I DO really take care about my back in the trainings, and it makes my body and mind more awere of the risk...and at last, its just good for my aikido :o)