The body is an amazing collection of hard and soft tissue, that when in balance and in alignment, allows us to do pretty amazing things.

But when this system of pulleys (muscles) and levers (bones), begin to fall out of alignment, a number of problems, potentially serious, begin to rear their ugly heads.

This full body image shows how, in a perfect world, you would like your body to line up.

The side profile clearly shows (Follow the small, red dots):

  • The Ear lined up with the outside of the shoulder
  • The shoulder aligned with the crest of the Hip
  • The Hip aligned with the Hip joint
  • The Hip joint lined up with the outside of the knee
  • The Knee directly above the outside of ankle bone.
From behind, we look at the following (Again, follow the red dots):
  • The position of the skull on top of the neck - not dropping to the left or right
  • The alignment of the spine - is it straight, or is it skewed to the sides?
  • Shoulders at the same height -
  • Hips at the same height -
  • Neutral Foot position - do the feet collapse inwards or outwards?
As I mentioned in the introduction, when muscles are out of balance, some long - some short, the affect on the body can be quite damaging and harmful.

The Head and Neck (Cervical Spine):
Weak Trapezius 1 muscles, Strong SternoCleidoMastoid muscles:
These muscles are responsible for pulling the head backwards (extending it), and when they become over-lengthened, they become weak, and holding the head the ideal position, becomes more difficult.

This might occur if you spend many hours looking down at a keyboard, or make jewelery.

In conjunction to this, the muscles at the front of the neck that pull the chin down toward the chest, become overactive and tight.

The solution: Stretch the muscles at the front of the neck, and strengthen the muscles at the back of the neck.

The Upper Spine (Thoracic spine):
Weak Trapezius 2 muscles, Strong Pectoralis Major muscles :

These muscles are responsible for maintain a good posture, and when they become weakened and elongated, allow your spine to curve forward and your shoulders to round forward.

This in conjunction with the chest muscles pulling the shoulders forward, leads to the appearance of a rounding of the shoulder girdle forward.

This is very common in most of us, because nearly everything we do (Computer work, Driving, eating) is in front of our body.

The solution: Stretch out the Chest Muscles and strengthen the postural muscles of the Mid-Spine: Rhomboids, Trapezius.

The Pelvis:
There are many muscles that have an impact on the pelvis, and the 2 groups I have chosen to look at are the Hamstring group (Image 1) and the Psoas group (Image 2).

The weak hamstring muscles at the back of the Pelvis, allows the Pelvis to tilt forward. This is exacerbated by the Hip Flexors become overactive, and tight and short.

Weak Psoas muscles (Hip Flexors) at the front of the Pelvis, allow the opposite to occur i.e. the Pelvis to tilt backwards. This situation is complemented by the Hamstrings at the back of the thigh, become tighter a shorter.

Each of these scenarios have an enormous impact on the functioning of the body, and can lead to Spinal mal-alignment, pain at the base of the spine (Lumbar Spine), and other problems above and below the pelvis.

It is important to remember that the body functions as a unit, and when some sort of dysfunction occurs (lower back pain), it is often not a direct result of trauma at the site of pain, but at some other point above or below it.

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.
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