An ape like me can learn to be human too.

How often do you think about the way you move? If you’re not a dancer or athlete, chances are you’re coming up with a resounding “never”. Do you not flow like water? Float as if carried upon a gentle breeze? Shift firmly like a travelling wall? Okay, now I’m deliberately aping Avatar: The Last Airbender. The point is, if you don’t subconsciously carry yourself in such a manner, you’re not alone. I don’t do any of these things. I don’t have grace befitting a supple leopard (I hope you’re as surprised as I was to learn that wasn’t a furry bible). Lately though, I’ve started to think about my movement.

The first time I even thought about it was back in my early teens. I remember my mum giving me shit about my posture. I was slouching, she said, like our ol’ pal Quasimodo. It made sense, I spent a ton of time at a desk and didn’t do a heap of physical work. I also carried a backpack that was half my size and maybe a quarter of my weight. It was either that or actually use my locker like some pedestrian. I hunched because I didn’t know any better. Once I started going to the gym, this evened out a little and I stopped thinking about it.

The thing about posture and movement is it’s not instinctive. Even after years of going to the gym, I still find myself hunching or slouching. Over the years, trainers have given me tips that I’ve tried to keep in my forebrain, but it’s been a matter of reminding myself of mantras and never stuck as an automatic reaction. Us plebs aren’t usually conscious about how our bodies are meant to move, which is why we hire these people to bark orders at us, right?

A curious thing happens when I start to run more often, my posture goes with it. I find myself almost tilted at the waist. My lower half is at a slight angle forwards, while my top half leans into my run even more. It’s as if I use the weight of my upper body to give me extra momentum, but I’m barrelling through rather than lightly moving from foot to foot. If I don’t make an effort to shift this, it means a sore lower back which is the opposite of ideal. This then carries over to how I walk. My friend the other day mentioned how I tend to lead with my head. It’s so true. If I don’t think about it, I naturally lean forward with my head and shoulders as if I’m charging instead of strolling. When did The Juggernaut become my role model?

The biggest push lately has been trying to grasp the feeling of neutral spine. The largest component of which has been a natural pelvic tilt. For years I’d hyper-extend my pelvis backwards and drastically throw off its natural curve. Now I’ve got a little checklist I put in my mind. Are my scapula retracted (bringing shoulder blades back and down)? Have I tightened my core? Have I tilted my pelvis? It’s a magical combination. The pelvic tilt in particular brings everything into alignment. It makes me feel taller, my head is upright and looking straight forwards. I feel more confident and stable. I stroll instead of charging. I still lack the grace of a dancer or supple leopard, but at least I stop looking like an orangutan.

When was the last time you looked side on in the mirror just to see how you were standing? Google is full of posture charts, but my favourite note has always been “walk like you’re wearing a cape.” Because we all deserve to feel super, maaaan.

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3 responses to “An ape like me can learn to be human too.

    • I tend to think of it as bringing my hips forward and clenching my bum. Not too much, you don’t want to throw your alignment off in the opposite direction. If you feel like you’re thrusting too much, try looking at yourself sideways in a mirror.

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