August 11, 2011

I was twenty five years old when I turned my back on brute force and ignorance and embarked upon an approach to health that required thought to be applied to how I used my body, mainly in the sense of physical activity and of resting positions, but also in terms of the organizational structure of work rest and play. I was still walking at the time, but had been living with damaged legs for four years; so coping with the damage became the focus of my attention.

Posture is defined in my dictionary as ‘the relative position of parts of the body’ and it is this principal that I applied to how I walked. I realised that it was possible to use conscious muscular effort to hold the body in a certain position, so controlling the relative position of parts, in order to facilitate ease of movement. A big part of this was preventing the legs from rolling in and the arches of the feet from collapsing. A podiatrist had made me some inserts for my shoes to correct this problem, but I decided that pushing up the arches in my feet to force the legs into a good position was not the answer and that posture should be attained to through conscious effort. This I did and I certainly improved the ease of movement in my walking, but what I didn’t manage to do was improve the structure of the damaged joints. Attainment to good posture can help in living with damaged structure, but it doesn’t, in itself, contribute to improving that structure.

I had begun observing the way others stand, sit, walk and generally use their bodies in movement and rest and came to the conclusion that posture may play a part in preventing decline in the structure of the body. The pub is a wonderful place for watching people and it is amazing the different variations on how people ‘prop themselves up at the bar’. Some will stand with weight through one leg, locking the hip to avoid using the strength truly necessary to support the body in such an unbalanced state. Some will sit on a stool leaning an elbow on the bar to eliminate the need for muscular effort in supporting the trunk, while others a combination of the two. Then there are those who stand firm on two legs, feet spaced apart and hands by their sides, many of these may have their heads craned forward and backs hunched over or they may have their bellies hanging out and lumbar spines arched in, but just a few stand with strength. They may not stand as straight and strong as the native Americans that Neil Young sung of in ‘Cortez the Killer’, a song about the Spanish Conquistadors, but they’re as good as we get in our time. The question was, does the poor posture cause decline in our bodies or is it underlying weakness that causes the poor posture? Do we need good posture to create strength or strength to create good posture? This is an issue I pondered for some years until an understanding of ‘stature’ shed light on the matter.

I had been making the mistake of thinking that muscles are at the heart of both strength and posture when in fact both are dependent upon stature. My dictionary defines stature as ‘height’, but this is a wholly inadequate description. It is actually the product of our ‘intrinsic’ or ‘pneumatic capacity’, that which gives volume, density and pressure to the core of our bodies, that which allows us to effortlessly rise against gravity and that which gives us the strength upon which to base our skeletal muscular system. Our stature is independent of muscle activity and beyond the reach of conscious effort. We are born with very little stature, but it is the basis of the development of our physical body. Some have a predisposition to a large stature, but all of us have the ability to develop our stature to its full extent, although not all of us do and many allow it to decline, hence ‘middle age spread’. Your average able-bodied person can improve and maintain their stature through exercise and good healthy living, but when the body is seriously damaged, as in the case of paraplegia, stature is terribly depleted to the point that physical effort will not have a positive effect and the body cannot naturally heal. Stature is at the core of our subconscious nature and yet it is possible to directly address, as we are proving by rebuilding it within my body, through ABR Therapy.

We can all pick ourselves up through conscious muscular effort and attain to good posture, but as we relax our bodies compress under our own weight. The degree to which they compress and change shape is a measure of our stature. If our stature is developed to its full extent there will be no compression and our body will naturally retain its good shape.

Once upon a time I strove for good posture. Now I strive for full stature.

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