Up-righting. Do your body a favour
I wanted to explain the concept of ‘up-righting’, in greater detail. If you have been a client of mine, you have undoubtedly heard me talk about it. Up-righting is this idea that we are being pulled/distracted upwards, from a point on the top of our heads, approximately 2 cm behind the crown. I first came across the concept of up-righting, whilst learning about developmental kinesiology: how we first establish stability and movement as babies. When we learn to move into a sitting and standing position, for example, it is an up-righting, not a movement that occurs through compressive forces. It is a lifting movement. This is important for a number reasons:
1) Most humans exist in a compressive state. We shorten muscles and compress joints. We often push through our pelvis and rotate and tilt in areas of our body, to deal with compression. It is a very fatigued posture and exhausting for the body. Not only that, compression can cause excessive forces on our joints, which can lead to inflammation and pain.
2) Up-righting promotes a lengthening. It allows joint space. It is not PASSIVE though, and this is key. It is an integrative lengthening (wait until you try it! You will feel muscles you have not felt for a while).
3) Up-righting encourages greater stability and better respiration by aligning the rib cage over the pelvis (‘centration’), and allowing the rib cage and lungs, space to move.
4) Up-righting encourages better alignment of our head over our shoulders, our trunk over our pelvis, our body over our feet. This places us in an overall better centre of mass, improving our overall posture and reducing risk of falls and compensatory movement symptoms, such as calf tightness, hip flexor issues and back pain (to name a few).
5) Up-righting gets those lower abdominals working and can reduce that lower ‘pouch’ and promote better pelvic floor function.
6) Up-righting creates the space from which movement can easily flow.
A couple of months ago, I had the privilege of completing a workshop with Foundations Training. Within the first 5 mins, the practitioners had mentioned ‘decompression’ and up-righting and my ears tweaked like a deer hearing a twig snap. Although the training was somewhat different to the principles I’ve been using from other forms of training, the concepts made sense. More importantly, I achieved results. I arrived on the day with a migraine. By the end of the training workshop, it was gone, my tension was dramatically reduced, and my pelvic floor felt amazing. I felt like I was walking on clouds. Intrigued, I asked fellow movement devotee and Master Foundations Trainer Brian King, about some of the concepts and teachings behind Foundation Training. More specifically, I asked Brian to explain his understanding and approach to up-righting. Brian also provides cues and ideas for us to use throughout the day to enhance our posture, and in doing so, enhance our performance.
Enitor: I have studied developmental kinesiology and how we learn our first movement patterns. As babies, when we go to move (e.g. into sitting, standing, crawling), movement appears to be in a forward/upward direction. I feel that as we get older we move via compressive patterns, trying to push and muscle our way through movement. I feel that we really make it challenging for our bodies to move in an optimal way. What are your thoughts on this? What are the impacts of compression on our bodies?
Brian: Babies have the advantage of being super weak. So, they have little choice but to move relatively well. As we get older and no one calls our attention to the process and structure of simple, intelligent movement, our strength gives us options that it would be better not having. I guess you could say our strength lets us be able to choose to move poorly.
In Foundations Training, we view compression as a possible root to almost every kind of health issue, from pain, to numbness, to digestive issues, to headaches, and so on and so on. It’s speculative but it makes sense that spinal compression and nerve compression will have far reaching consequences that, to someone unfamiliar with the nervous system, may seem unrelated. But there is often a logical path that can be traced back to compression. When skilled doctors and skilled patients work together crazy things can happen.
One thing I know that is not speculative, is that movement causes friction. Friction, causes inflammation. And inflammation will lead to trouble. I believe many overuse type injuries are rooted in misalignment, compression, friction and the resulting inflammation.
Enitor: I have always taught up-righting as a piece of string or a balloon floating the top of our heads to the sky. However, it is not just that is it? We need to consider one of Newton’s laws of physics. Can you explain your concept of up-righting and what you explain during your Foundation Training?
Brian: The downward pressure through the heels is the oppositional force to the floating balloon. Equal and opposite reaction, of course! They NEED each other. In Foundation training we use downward pressure through the heels and decompression breathing to inflate the ribcage. The two together are very powerful.
In Foundation Training up-righting or decompression requires inflation and mobility of the rib cage. This is why we teach people to direct the breath into the ribcage. It makes sense to use the lungs as airbags to help lift the rib cage, right? Lungs live in the ribcage. They need room. Inflate them as a tool to make space.
Enitor: I always have clients that ask me, “what can I do about my posture during the day”? “Should I be standing with my chest more like this”? “Or my pelvis more like this”? “Or my feet more like this”? This is when I usually bring in the concept of up-righting. Does it really need to be complicated? What are some specific cues you use to teach people how to correct their posture during the day?
Brian: Simple cues like “chin back”, “chest up” are great. And once someone knows how to breathe into their rib cage, it becomes something that can be done whilst sitting, standing, lying, hinging, anything. Decompression is applicable to every other movement you can do.
Enitor: Once we are in an up-righting position, what are the impacts/benefits on how we move?
Brian: My favourite benefit to being decompressed is the more your body learns to lift, the lighter it feels. A compressed body is a challenge to live in and literally a weight on itself. A decompressed body is much more athletic, more comfortable to be in and literally feels lighter.
I am super impressed by the openness and approachability of Foundations Training. The practitioners appear knowledgeable and experienced, without pretence or arrogance. Big thanks to Brian for his time and sincerity and for sharing his views and opinions on movement. Foundations Training offer an online training program called Core Elements, which you can access via https://www.foundationtraining.com
At Enitor, we use up-righting in our rehabilitative and sports specific training. We do this to optimise how your body moves. By optimising movement, you give your body the best opportunity to reduce pain and dysfunction. Contact us today for an appointment, so we can work out the best program for you. In the meantime, stand tall, be brave, be active, love life.