Why Your Exercise Routine Should Prioritize Posture & Gait Cycle
by Nick L
The gait cycle is used to analyze and quantify how someone walks. Basically, it is your stride when you walk or run. Humans have a biomechanical blueprint primarily catered towards standing and moving in a bipedal fashion (on two feet). Besides breathing, walking and standing are the most common actions done by humans on a daily basis. This is the foundation we must work around if we expect to come to a definitive answer of training a human body towards its biological strengths.
Through a combined 20+ years of being in the fitness industry, we neglected the standing neutral posture and gait cycle with ourselves and clients. You may be asking yourself, how did it take us so long to come to this conclusion? Simple, it is very easy to be influenced by what we see others do in the gym, Youtube, professional athletes, other trainers, certifications, achieving vanity driven results and much more. Sometimes it’s easy to believe the education you received is all you need, but in reality it can limit you from what your truest potential is in life. We’ve dealt with many injuries from bodybuilding and powerlifting that came about because of this “standard training style” most people do in the gym. We have found that optimizing an individual's standing position and gait, in turn sets the foundation for a neurologically and physiologically healthy human being.
There are many aspects to our life and health that can be positively affected by improving our posture and gait cycle. This includes pain, breathing, circulation, stress, digestion, body fat/hormones, libido, sleep, aesthetics, non-verbal communication, and energy levels.
Everyone in today’s society has dealt with some sort of physical pain. Non-contact pain is likely an outcome of poor posture. It is the number one complaint we have seen being in the fitness industry. However, the pain still lingers for a majority of people even after seeking medical care. Having proper structural alignment and integrity can alleviate pain. Aligning your posture in an optimal position eliminates the dysfunctionally altered length-tension relationships of the core and spine muscles, consequently relieving the pressure placed on your discs, which leads to peripheral muscular pain.
Every human needs to breathe, but most are not breathing properly. You can go longer without food and water, but only minutes without air. When we see individuals with a rounded upper back or arched lower back, this alters length-tension relationships of your breathing muscles, creating improper breathing mechanics. These mechanics stimulate breathing as if you were getting chased down by a lion (fight or flight), which is a sign that your body is stressed without doing anything! Good posture naturally promotes proper breathing.
Poor circulation oftentimes stems from poor cardiovascular and energy deficiencies. If your bones and muscles are out of proper alignment, they may impinge upon nerves and arteries that facilitate movement and blood flow. If your pelvis becomes unstable (most cases is true) this can inhibit full blood flow to vital organs further promoting dysfunction and achieving desired results in your health journey. With proper gait and posture, you'll be able to have even flow of blood which carries nutrients to the proper areas of your body.
At the root cause of disease and illness, you will find stress plays a significant role. This is due to the fact that stress stimulates the catabolic “fight or flight” that is present within the sympathetic nervous system. Humans are in a constant state of stress in today’s society that does not allow the body to return to their homeostatic balance. When a body is continually bombarded with excessive stress, the body begins to neurologically wire in the physiology of “break down” (catabolism). By implementing good postural and gait habits, the body can transmit the stress response equally through all systems, which makes it more resilient to the stressors encountered on a daily basis.
An overlooked factor when being faced with digestive issues is being aware of posture and gait cycle. If you eat the most nutrient-dense food and your body is not able to assimilate the nutrients into its bodily functions, it will give no positive effect. Poor posture will limit how well you are able to assimilate the food you need because the digestive tract needs to have optimal alignment in order for a stool to be passed. Since most people's posture and gait is horrendous, it becomes difficult for the body to work around this dysfunction. When we are in a constant state of stress, our parasympathetic nervous system (rest, digest, repair) gets suppressed, therefore shutting down our digestive system and sending blood flow and energy to the muscular systems. This happens because we have been adapted to use the stress response to ‘fight or flight’. The body will be more adaptable to stress via good posture to regulate the stress response efficiently and allowing for optimal digestion.
Most people that come into the fitness industry are looking to lose fat. We have seen that many individuals only yield short term results because they are still not getting to the root of their problems. Following the traditional calories in vs. calories out approach fails to adhere to the physiological and structural alignment of the body. Having a sound posture and proper gait mechanics will get at the root cause for excessive body fat by decreasing the added stress put on the body.
Excessive stress significantly decreases testosterone, in turn lowering the person’s sex drive. Since both the stress response and sex hormones stem from the endocrine system, the better the body can regulate stress, the fewer problems well see as far as sexual performance.
As you see a common theme, having more stress put on the body from improper gait and posture will only push the body into a state of stress. When we constantly have stress hormones elevated, this does not allow the body to fully get a good night's rest.
Having good posture is physically attractive. Symmetry has been shown to be one of the foundations of attractiveness.
It has been shown that 93% of all communication is non-verbal. An effective posture and gait cycle communicates and shows confidence. We have noticed people make associations of stress and emotion through their muscular systems, so they tend to wire in a lot of subconscious behaviors through their postural and gait dynamics. If we eliminate more dysfunctions through posture, it will greatly enhance one’s life, either through business or personal.
A structurally sound posture and gait lead to an optimal nervous system where the brain can wire in an appropriate circadian rhythm clock which releases hormones that give you the energy to focus and perform at your best.
Where to start? Download the mobility guide on the front page of our website and begin applying myofascial release techniques. If you think correcting years of improper walking, lifting, and stress will happen in a 30, 60, or 90-day program, you are mistaken. It is definitely NOT a quick fix to regain a structurally sound posture and efficient gait cycle. We will never stop training our gait cycle and posture because of how important it is to respect human biology!
Download our free trigger point guide where we teach and educate more in-depth on the basics of rebuilding a foundation to health, while mitigating many unknown stressors that could be present in your current lifestyle. Follow us on Instagram:Lamannafitness and Colonna_Fitness, Youtube:Mitigatestress.com & Mitigate Stress 2.0 where we constantly provide more in-depth content for visual learners.
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