Can you imagine beginning 4th grade without passing 1st? Or attending medical school without Chemistry 101? It seems ridiculous, right? Yet people consistently train without first mastering one of the most significant prerequisites: standing appropriately. Standing seems so simple and basic that few people give it much thought, yet there are still many people who cannot demonstrate appropriate standing.
In reality, this seemingly simple activity is actually quite complex. Your brain has a lot of work to do to balance your body and head within the field of gravity. It has to receive a continuous input of information from the rest of your body, interpret that information, and then coordinate your muscles to achieve position. The input to your brain is mostly from your muscles, connective tissue, and joints telling your brain where your body is and what it’s doing, which allows your brain to effectively control your body. This is a type of loop in which information travels from body–>up to brain–>back to body, and the loop is continuously fed new information based on what’s happening in your body and environment.
When one is out of proper position, this information loop cannot flow freely and it becomes necessary to make adjustments. For instance, if your brain is not receiving enough information from your foot to be able to interpret where your foot is, it may cause you to twitch a toe. That twitch in turn creates information that is then transmitted back to your brain to tell your brain where your foot is. It’s like your brain sending a text message to your foot asking when it’s going to be home for dinner.
When trying to stand erect, or “at attention,” many people notice that they twitch, sway, fidget, or shift. These adjustments indicate a problem in this cycle of information flow due to a break in position.
Since position is the key to effective movement, I suggest that this lack of ability in standing is a serious problem. If one cannot coordinate himself/herself in the most basic position of all, standing, then how well do you think that person will be able to maintain position while walking, running, skating, holding a yoga posture, jumping, throwing, lifting weights, carrying groceries, etc.? Chances are, there will be some compensations along the way. These compensations cause your body to call on more muscles than are necessary to complete a task, which wastes energy and makes you less efficient. These compensations also increase your risk of injury.
Therefore, I suggest we all take time to practice standing. Master the foundation first, then move on. Aim for 5 minutes of standing with no twitching or swaying; work up to 10 minutes without any stiffness or tightness and you’ve gone a long way to balancing and coordinating your body.