What Do Gravity And Alignment Have To Do With Structural Balancing?
Gravity is the force that pulls any two masses together, notably the earth and our human bodies. We learn about this force early in life, but then get used to it, although it continually pulls on us. Alignment simply means that things are in a straight line. If items are in a zig-zag pattern, we would say that they are out of alignment. In Structural Balancing, the main direction of alignment that we consider is vertical alignment-are the body’s segments stacked in a straight line from the ground up, or are they at a tilt, or perhaps a zig-zag?
If a body or structure of any kind is vertically aligned, gravity is a benign and positive force-it keeps us on the planet! It also supports us in being balanced. An imbalanced body however, feels gravity as a stress. Consider the two buildings. The balanced and erect building has no problem with gravity. Gravity is the force that makes the earth a foundation for the building in the first place. The leaning tower of Pisa however, is stressed by gravity. Since it is already imbalanced, gravity works to pull it down.
It is the same with our bodies-if they are aligned, gravity is supportive. If they are out of alignment, gravity becomes a primary force that is felt by our bodies as a demand to tense up and hold on!
How Did My Body Get This Way?
If you have lived for even an hour, your body has experienced the aging process. Most of us have experienced years and years of this process, there is nothing inherently wrong with the progression of years-many things actually ripens with age. But what is it that causes people to physically shorten over time, that makes people get twisted and compressed into postures that cannot change by themselves and that makes people move more and more slowly and with less and less comfort as they age?
Connective tissue-specifically fascia-holds our bodies in their contracted from, and movement patterns determine the particular form in which they get stuck. There are three main factors that cause our movement patterns to become imbalanced. They are (1) ongoing physical stresses, (2) ongoing attitudes and emotions, and (3) incidents of physical trauma.
Continually carrying a briefcase on one side of the body is an example of on going physical stress. Gravity pulls the briefcase down, and the shoulder with it. With repetition, the connective tissue layers begin to get stiff and to stick to one another, like ironing two thin sheets of plastic together. As a result, the body becomes stuck in that position and, even when the briefcase is not being carried, the shoulder still remains lower. The whole body will adjust to this imbalance, and soon the impact of the briefcase will be reflected throughtout the entire body.