Daily Activities and Back Support
Back support isnt something you wear for a set period of time. It is something you do! Continuously. Its not something you set aside time to do. Somehow our world has come to isolate even these kinds of non temporal experiences into blocks of time, most commonly an exercise time block that focuses on your abs.
Body Mechanics vs Exercise
Unlike exercise, body mechanics is something we practice continuously. If you practice poor body mechanics in life, an exercise routine will be no more than a bandage or a distraction from real cause of your back pain, hip pain, sciatica etc. Question is are you practicing body mechanics that support good form and functional longevity?
Good form while exercising seems common sense. Surprisingly, good form takes a second seat to performance during a typical exercise routine. When pushing yourself to fatigues you likewise compromise good body mechanics.
How to Improve Body mechanics?
Good back support forms the key stone of good body mechanics. Your belly button marks your center of gravity. To keep good body mechanics and back support, focus on keeping your belly button squarely over your feet at all times unless you counterweight as I will elaborate on in next paragraph. Most people most of the time drop theirs in front when they reach, bend and even while they stand , walk and sit. The other side of your belly button is the small of your low back. Check in with how your low back feels. If it feels like its tensing up, rather than stretching you probably need to shift your weight back so that your belly button rests over your hips. Imagine that your belly button is facing the floor and anchoring you as you bend or squat. What does your body need to do to achieve that?
Allow your body to figure it out for you. You will feel yourself squatting a little deeper and your hips reaching back more than what you would let them do. Avoid any static poses that take your center of gravity behind your hips or to the side of them. Doing so places bad strain on your muscles, requiring them to take on the role of support, a role designated to your skeleton.
On the other hand, a counterweight requires that you shift your center of gravity away from your support in order to feel biomechanically sound and balanced. A back bend or sun salute creates a counterweight by leaning away from your feet up to your bellybutton at which point your body leans back over your feet. Your body weight remains evenly distributed over your feet. Another counterweight example is having some assisted support such as a hammock or resistance band holding up or pulling you in the opposite direction. A body in motion often experiences brief shifts in center of gravity. Even the act of glide walking, your natural walk, has your center of gravity briefly falling forward just before your leg thrusts in front and catches it. Most people wont relate to this or the smooth feeling of natural walking, because they have learned to tense up their hips and to lead with their head and shoulders instead. Learning rhumba or salsa helps you relax your hips and get a good feel for glide walking.
Compare the feeling of those two exercises to the strain of standing straight and too close to the wall while trying to drill a hole. The later may result in a “muscle brace” that remains locked up in case you hit similar bad form in the future.
If you are feeling relief in your low back, thats success! Congratulations on reaching good back support! Keep practicing this drill throughout your life. Dont wait for the next exercise block to focus on good body mechanics 😉
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Here is another example of daily body mechanics belly button squatting compost pile