Posturology for Peak Performance
By Annette Verpillot, President, Posturepro
For most people, good posture is often associated with improved appearance and reduced incidence of low back pain
These benefits are certainly true, but achieving optimal postural alignment is also essential to achieving athletic superiority – or, at least, performing better
When looking at the influence of posture on athletic performance, consider that at the highest levels of competition, the difference between first place and second is often extremely small. Take, for example, the accomplishments of Usain Bolt, considered by many to be the greatest sprinter in history.
In the Rio Olympics, Bolt won the 100-meters final with a time of 9.81seconds, which was only .8155 percent better than Justin Gatlin’s time of 9.89. And Gatlin’s time was only .2022 percent better than Andre DeGrasse finish of 9.91. What this means is that a single stumble on the track, at this level, could easily mean the difference between receiving a medal on the victory stand and being an also-ran.
With such challenges, it’s obvious that elite athletes will look beyond physical training to become better. When Michael Phelps was seen covered in large red dots all over his body during his events at the Rio Olympics, it sparked a renewed interest in cupping therapy, a treatment that dates back to 1500 B.C. Some sports medicine experts consider cupping pseudoscience, but others disagree. For example, one study published in 2012 found that cupping therapy significantly relieved symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. One thing that athletes can be assured of with Posturology is that it is not pseudoscience.
Posturology is a science-based technique that changes the way your brain communicates to your muscles, by stimulating sensory receptors that have an influence on performance and postural balance.
Here are four examples of how Posturology can benefit an athlete:
1 – Improved Rotational Strength
Rotational strength is critical for sports that involve throwing objects, for example baseballs, and with sports that involve swinging an object, such as tennis rackets, baseball bats etc. Trunk stability is critical in producing this rotational force, and trunk stability requires a strong foundation from the feet.
If an athlete has disharmonic feet, which means one foot oscillates inward (valgus) and the other oscillates outward (varus), this imbalance will shift the pelvis out of alignment such that less force can be generated in one direction. Through a combination of postural insoles and special eye exercises prescribed by a Posturlogist, disharmonic feet can be quickly resolved.
2 – Increased Running Speed
One element that determines running speed is the ability to apply force into the ground. With a valgus foot, the bones of the ankle are not aligned with the feet, as the athlete runs, the knees buckle inward excessively. This buckling affects the athlete’s ability to rapidly decelerate the forward leg when it strikes the ground and to accelerate the backward leg as it pushes off.
One test to determine knee alignment is the Klatt test. It was developed by Lois Klatt, Ph.D. of Concordia College in the United States. This test is dynamic in that it involves the subject jumping barefoot off of a low box. If the athlete’s knee buckles inward when he or she lands, this could be a sign of a valgus foot. With Posturology, and often with no additional corrective exercise program, athletes can often achieve optimal alignment in the Klatt test within weeks, even days.
3 – Improved Jumping Ability
A well-formed foot arch is essential in enabling an athlete to jump high, both vertically and horizontally. A fallen arch (valgus) does not allow the body to effectively transfer the force of the major lower body muscles through the ground to propel the body in space. This is even more evident with sports that involve multiple jumps, such as basketball, as the body does not absorb the force of landing as effectively with fallen arches.
4 – Reduced Risk of Injury
An injured athlete can often not perform their best, or sometimes not at all. The higher the level of the athlete, the greater their risk of injury, which is why corrective exercise (or “pre-hab”) workouts have become popular in the field of strength and conditioning. Take the example of hamstring injuries.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy found that although most athletes can return to athletic competition 3-4 weeks after a hamstring injury, approximately one-third of them will reinjure their hamstrings within a year. Obviously, the best approach to dealing with hamstring injuries is to find ways to prevent them from occurring in the first place! However, to achieve optimal postural alignment and thus efficient function of the hamstrings, the athlete’s nervous system must be taken into consideration. By addressing the role of the nervous system, a Posturologist can often make rapid and dramatic improvements in an athlete’s posture so they can stay in the game.
It’s been said that in sports that talent prevails, but it’s also true that any athlete, at any level, needs to have optimal postural alignment to fulfill their athletic potential. Backed by hard science, Posturology is a proven, scientific way to help athletes do just that.