POSTURE AND WALKING
The Basic "Make Me A Supermodel" Flaws
And a Lot More
©2008 Mark B. Anstendig
Nothing should epitomize physical deportment more than fashion modeling. Yet, watching the series “Make Me A Supermodel”, as well as many “Project Runway” series, one thing immediately stands out: no one really walks naturally and/or correctly. And finished professional models are little better.
The reason becomes immediately apparent: none of the models has perfect posture. In fact, none of them even understands what correct posture should be. None of them! Not one.
One cannot walk really naturally and well, not to mention elegantly, without having superb, natural, healthy posture.
So what do these people all lack? A lot! Just about everything basic to standing, sitting and walking correctly.
First of all, they do not understand the first basic of correct posture: rational use of the body! Rational means the achieving of the desired result with the least expenditure of energy. The desired result is an upright position. In order to achieve an upright position in the most rational way, one must first fully understand how the body is laid out and how the main parts of the body relate to each other in size, weight, and importance. How to sit. And how to stand.
Naturally the feet hold and move the body when standing. How that has to be most rationally done we will save for last.
Forgetting the feet, the three main parts of the body that have to be supported when sitting or standing are the head, the chest and the pelvis.
The first absolute basic of any posture is that the center of the weight of the head, of the chest and of the pelvis must be precisely aligned one above the other. When those three body sections have their weight balanced exactly above each other, the least expenditure of muscle energy is necessary to keep the body upright. Period. Logical. Absolutely no exception with a normal, not deformed body.
If any of the three main parts of the body is not balanced precisely above or angled correctly in relation to the other major parts of the body including the feet, relatively enormous amounts of muscle energy have to be expended holding it and the rest of the body in place. The result is a thoroughly irrational use of energy, in the sense of a relatively enormous, otherwise unneeded expenditure of muscle energy just holding the body upright and somehow balanced. In such a state, no matter how it might be ordered among the pelvis, chest and head, as well as the feet, no other action of the body, let alone walking well, can happen easily, elegantly and in any way correctly.
The first step is, therefore, roughly aligning/balancing the main sections of the body above each other.
The next step is understanding the relative weight of the sections of the body. And here, unless the person is grossly overweight, the chest is the heaviest part of the body. The chest must be very carefully aligned above the pelvis.
However, at this stage of analyzing and improving posture, some more complex, more difficult things to master come into play, if one ever wants to achieve truly natural, correct, rational posture and as healthy a body as can be achieved with what one has been given.
Here it must be said that extra weight is ruinous to any true achievement of healthy posture and health in general. And here I am not referring to the generally known problems of health due simply to too much weight. The problem with posture is that aligning the body correctly and keeping it aligned over time requires the body to remain positioned within certain parameters. And if the body sticks out beyond a certain amount in any direction, that protrusion will keep forcing the body out of alignment at various crucial times. For example, if the body sticks out much further than a normal-weight body, the parts that stick out will force the body out of alignment when one sleeps on them, and often when one sits on them or rests against them in a chair, etc. For example, aligning the body in certain ways against flat surfaces is an important part of achieving good physical alignment. But massive hips, tush, even stomach can keep the body from being able to naturally align itself against flat surfaces. The ways of achieving good body-alignment when overweight, while possible, are extremely limited and are often immediately counter-acted when one is not able to do them, which is a good deal of the time. I have never met an overweight person who was able to align his/her body successfully. Losing weight, often radically, was always a necessary step.
Next, there are important things necessary to accomplish with the angles in relation to each other of the chest, head and especially the pelvis in order to achieve good posture.
The pelvis must be rotated forward, as though, when seen from the side, there were a metal bar stuck through its center and extending the whole width of it. This rotation of the pelvis, which should be tried under the guidance of someone familiar with and able to demonstrate it, must be worked on over time until the pelvis is about as far rotated as it can go.
The chest, somewhat unexpectedly, does not rotate in the opposite direction from the pelvis, which is the usual, natural tendency. The chest’s posture is regulated by the very edge of the shoulders, in a manner that should again be taught by someone who has mastered it and can demonstrate it, and who can correct any missteps between any of these processes. The chest is also regulated by the shoulder-arm complex, which has to be raised straight up in a very specific way that, again, should be supervised and watched over by someone who understands and has mastered these techniques. In other words, a thoroughly accomplished teacher is necessary for all of this.
Further, more advanced stages of aligning and supporting the torso in relation to the head and extremities, like using the stomach muscles to support/align the whole body-frame, lie in the higher realms of esoteric physical/mental disciplines and are not necessary to achieving a good basic posture and manner of walking.
The head should be aligned and balanced directly above the chest and the neck should be essentially 90% vertical to the ground. The usual error here is that the neck is angled forward. If this is the case, simply raising the head until it is upright will not solve the problem, as the neck will constantly tend to return to the original angle in relation to the chest. Totally realigning the whole neck, chest and head complex by changing the angle of the chest itself (rotating the chest until the neck is vertical) is the only way to achieve truly correct head and chest alignment. That step, which requires enormous physical efforts, really must be only attempted with a good teacher who has been through all the stages of esoteric physical and mental/ consciousness development. Those are few and far between and anyone claiming to be such should first be viewed quite skeptically.
The whole body should be aligned exactly over the heel of the foot. Not at all over the front part of the foot. The legs go down straight to the heel of the foot. And that part of the foot should bear the total weight of the body. The front part of the foot is there solely for balance and stability, when such are needed. It should not be used at all for weight bearing.
Now we come to walking and how the body should rationally move:
First of all, of all, the foot is flat to the ground when standing and it should remain so when walking. Come again??????? How is that possible? If the foot is flat to the ground when standing, when walking and the leg extends forward, doesn’t the foot angle itself upwards?
The answer is: only when walking incorrectly. What most people forget, if they ever noticed in the first place, is that the ankle is a flexible joint that is capable of keeping the foot flat/parallel to the ground when the leg extends forward in order to walk. By simply changing its angle to the leg, the ankle can easily, readily, and ultimately correctly keep the foot parallel to the ground. Ballet dancers learn how to walk this way onstage, often with an exaggerated manner, but seldom apply this quite correct principle when they are walking offstage, without the exaggerated stage-manner. This principle of keeping the foot parallel to the ground along with keeping the weight as centered as possible over the supporting heel-portion of the foot and not taking too large steps which would throw the body off balance….those principles are the foundation of the ancient art of Tai Chi, which is all too often practiced these days without the slightest awareness of these principles of keeping the foot parallel to the ground and the weight perfectly balanced over the supporting heel portion of the foot and not taking large steps. Walking that way means the weight of the body is always balanced as firmly and solidly as possible on the ground, along with myriad added advantages, upon which the art of Tai Chi is based. But simply standing and walking are equally improved by using these principles, even without mastering the further disciplines of Tai Chi. In fact, Tai Chi is just a specialized, extended use of these basic principles of standing and moving the body/walking. Keeping the foot parallel to the ground/floor and the weight firmly over the back part of the foot provides solidity, strength, better balance and much more. Walking heel-to-toe and making quite large steps, as most people do, means one’s body and whole being is off balance and vulnerable with the taking of each step, especially during the period when the weight of the body is being shifted from one foot to the other, as well as when the heel is on the ground perpendicular to the front of the foot, which is pointed upwards, and one is shifting from back of the heel to the toe portion of the foot, getting ready to push off. Essentially the whole body is continuously off balance and almost always in the unsteady state of shifting from one leg to the other. When the foot remains parallel to the ground and the ankle changes pitch to allow movement forward, the weight of the body remains firmly on the back foot until the front foot is firmly placed and the shift that takes place is done as a combination of a pulling-pushing motion/action that must also be carefully taught and can really only be effectively learned using one special technique. When carefully practiced, done correctly and made habit, this posture and manner of walking results in the body always being firmly anchored on the ground and not constantly shifting from one unstable angled-up-in-the-air foot to the other.
The next, and final steps, regard eliminating irrational, unnecessary movements of the rest of the body:
The tush remains level, is held tight, and does not move up and down as one walks….at all.
The arms remain at one’s side or, in well placed side pockets and do not swing or move back and forth with the walk.
And most important of all, the thighs: the thigh muscles do the walking, with the least bending of the knees possible. One walks from the pelvis, using the massive thigh muscles to propel the body. And generally coordinated movements, like moving the arms or bending the knees and using the calf muscles are either eliminated or, in the case of the thighs at certain up or down- grade angles, reduced to a very minimum.
All of the above, besides stabilizing one’s body during walking and providing maximum balance and stability, also reduce vulgarity and personal mannerisms to their lowest possible amounts, adding real naturalness, natural elegance and improving one’s apparent manner.
The human body is a wonder in that it can take care of itself without much, if any, help from the consciousness in it. In fact, at birth it has to do just that and continue doing so for quite some time before the consciousness in the body is developed enough to help. But, for that to be achieved, great compromises have to be made between what the body can do by itself and what it could do if the consciousness in the body were directing and working with the process. Using the body more rationally by having the consciousness in it understand and utilize the possibilities of the consciousness working with it can turn the human body into a much better, more rationally working machine. And learning how to walk most rationally is one of the main beginning steps.