[Tip of the Month] Stop Clamping Down Your Posture & Start Going Up Right Now

Image of bubbles going up

Illustration courtesy of Stuart Miles freedigitalphotos.net

Are you bothered by pain or posture problems like slumping? If the answer is yes, you could be making the problem worse by unknowingly tightening and clamping down your body. Read on for a tip to nip this pattern in the bud and start going up instead. Going up relieves the tension and makes you effortlessly taller.

What triggers clamping down?

Stress is the cause of so much unnecessary tension in our bodies! How do you know if you’re clamping down without realizing it? Are you dealing with one or more of these types of stress on a regular basis?

  • Time stress “I’ve got to get all the horses fed before I go to work”
  • Emotional stress “My partner’s upset with me because I complained about the socks on the floor”
  • Physical stress “My shoulder is tense”
  • Postural stress “My trainer says I brace my back (drill sergeant) or slump in the saddle”

Fight or flight

Time, emotional, physical and postural stressors send signals to a primitive part of your brain that reads any kind of stress as “Danger: I need to battle a predator, or I need to run away right now” You have no time to do anything about it because your primitive, unconscious brain is already preparing your body for battle.

Stress and tension feels normal

The fight or flight reaction automatically tightens your neck muscles and makes your shoulders move up toward your ears. Think of that “deer in the headlights” look, or what someone looks like when you come up from behind them and say “Boo”!

With constant low level stress, the fight or flight reflex gets stuck in the on position. And body tension and posture problems become ingrained habits. Since habits are unconscious, the neck and shoulder tension begins to feel normal. We don’t notice it, until…

It starts to hurt

Feeling pain is when most people notice “something’s not working right”, and it’s time to pay attention to their body. But you may be asking, aside from taking painkillers, what can I do to help myself?

Interrupt the stress tension pain cycle

You can use three quick and easy techniques to nip the stress tension pain cycle in the bud.  Asking your neck muscles to soften and thinking of your head floating up can make a noticeable difference in how you feel by taking downward pressure off your spine.

Three tips you can use right now

Head balance

  • Sitting or standing, place a finger on either side of your head, right behind each ear
  • Think of an imaginary line between your fingers
  • Your head/neck joint is inside, in the center of the line
  • Rotate your head forward around the imaginary axis about ¼” and make a TINY rocking motion with your head
  • This is your head balancing on top of your spine

Soft neck

  • Find the bony protrusion on the back of your head, in the center at about ear level
  • Gently and slowly move your hands down the back of your neck, and notice the muscles you can feel that support and move your head
  • Move hands out further toward your ears, and move your hands down the sides of your neck
  • As you move your hands, imagine your muscles being allowed to soften
  • Trace your hands along your jawline and move your hands down the front of your neck as well, imagining softness there too

Think up

  • Stand or sit
  • Locate your head/neck joint (see first tip)
  • Think “neck free” to yourself
  • Ask your head to float up off the top of your spine (be careful not to “do” it, just think it)
  • Think of your spine lengthening and your torso widening

What do you notice?

Do you feel more relaxed? Calmer? Maybe a little taller? Even if you don’t notice anything right away, if you keep practicing, you will. Use these tips every time you feel stress creeping into your life. Each one only takes a minute. You’ll go a long way toward nipping tension and pain in the bud. If you’d like help right away, feel free to contact us, schedule a chat, and let us know how we can help.




About Emily Clark

Feel free to use this article in your newsletter or on your website or blog. Just make sure to include the bio and link below at the end of the article.

Emily Clark, of TheSuppleRider.com, is an Alexander Technique Certified Instructor who teaches horseback riders of all disciplines to eliminate pain and improve their posture so they can ride as one every ride.

She’s worked with equestrians for over 11 years. She loves working with riders because they’re so passionate about what they do.

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