HOW we move matters! And how we move ALL DAY LONG matters most of all. And how we move depends on our physical alignment: the way our parts relate to one another as we move.
What Is Alignment?
Alignment means making postural changes to improve the function of our body as a whole.
It can be useful to think of alignment the way we’d think about our car’s wheel alignment. Good alignment = optimal performance.
Though bodies are much more complex and self healing than cars, our bodies work their best when we move with good alignment. Cells get fed and tissues get strong, healed and restored. When our alignment is poor, some parts experience a lot of wear and tear, while others never get the movement input they need.
There are very specific ways our body parts should relate to each other so our bodies function well.
Learning these relationships allows us to assess and measure how our bodies have adapted to modern life. And then we can make changes so our parts align better, work better and feel better.
For instance, if we always walk with our feet turned out, we put a lot of sideways pressure on the big toe joint. This can contribute to forming a bunion, and weaken our hip rotators. Our feet should basically point straight ahead when we walk so that our feet, ankles and hips can work optimally.
Or, if we habitually stand with our hips ahead of our ankles, we overload our feet and compress our pelvic floors and spines, and underload our hips. It’s much more sustainable for our bodies to become capable of aligning these joints vertically, and then to spend more time standing that way.
Good alignment ensures that the forces and loads that act on our body contribute to long term health instead of physical damage.
How To Change Body Alignment
Alignment is learned in layers. First, we need to learn the markers that show us our parts relate to each other. Called ‘alignment points’, these bony landmarks help us assess and improve our alignment. In my examples above, I’m using alignment points on the feet, ankles, knees and pelvis to help improve the forces created by walking and by standing.
As we learn the alignment points, we can change our movement so that our parts relate to each other more optimally. We can use only a couple of points, or many of them.
A simple exercise like a calf stretch can become more complex when we layer on multiple alignment points.
The alignment I teach isn’t about forcing your body to be in a certain shape. It’s about observing how your body is shaped right now, and, gently and kindly, asking it to change and adapt to new and more sustainable shapes. We start with small changes and gradually layer on more when our bodies and minds allow.
Each alignment layer has value and it’s best to explore them slowly so we don’t get overloaded! In my Take10 movement coaching program, I teach all the alignment points, both individually and how we can use them in exercises and in real life.
As we master the alignment layers, we can add them more and more to our daily movement. The more consistently and mindfully we apply alignment boundaries, the more we reshape our bodies so they can work better, feel better and move better.
Courses For Better Alignment
Take10 Online Movement Coaching
Get stronger, more mobile and learn how to move better so your body can work better and feel better, in bite sized chunks.
More Alignment Resources
What Is Alignment? (Katy Bowman’s blog)
What Good Alignment Looks Like (Katy Bowman’s blog)
Understanding Spinal and Ribcage Alignment (blog post)
End Neck Pain (Blog post with exercise class and head/neck alignment work)
Using Pelvic Alignment To Load The Hips (YouTube Exercise Class)
Working On Ribcage Alignment (Blog Post)
How Ribcage Alignment Impacts Our Shoulders (YouTube)
Bolster Your Sitting For Better Pelvic Alignment (YouTube)
How To Stand Better (Blog Post)
Better Head & Neck Alignment (While Driving) (YouTube)
Release Your Psoas – Happier Core, Pelvic Floor and Spine (YouTube)
Alignment Matters by Katy Bowman
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