Massage & Bodywork

May/June 2013

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technique @work | the science of movement | Energy work | Myofascial techniques Increasing Mechanical Advantage with Optimal Posture By Mary Ann Foster Because massage therapists assess Line of gravity (LOG) posture and movement in order to work effectively with muscle patterns, understanding kinesiology—the science of human movement—can help MTs Center of gravity (COG) get better results in their practice. Efficient movement begins from a position of optimal posture, with the head, thorax, and pelvis stacked along the vertical axis. 1 The focus of this Science of Movement series is educational, to promote the study and personal embodiment of kinesiology. Practitioners and students can practice these techniques with each other for selfstudy, but to use them with a client, practitioners should have advanced degrees in somatics and certification as Registered Somatic Movement Educators (RSME) or Registered Somatic Movement Therapists (RSMT). For more information about somatic trainings and certifications, go to, the International Somatic Movement Education and Therapy Association's website. Optimal posture allows us to carry the weight of the spine as close to midline as possible. It aligns the skeletal system in a position of mechanical advantage, which equalizes gravity's downward pull on the bones with the upward counter-support of the axial skeleton. This, in turn, allows the muscles to rest at optimal lengths and minimizes compressive stresses on the weight-bearing joints. Center of Gravity and Line of Gravity The human body is literally anchored to the earth by gravity. The gravitational pull is so constant that we don't notice it until a change of dynamics catches our attention. For example, when we lose our grip and drop something heavy or inadvertently step off a short ledge, gravity's downward force can be startling. Weight is relative to gravity; that is, gravity gives mass its weight. Without gravity, all bodies would become weightless and float, and the human body would not need an axial, bony framework to counter gravity's pull. The narrower and more vertical a structure, the less muscular energy it takes to hold it up. As the most vertical of all animal skeletons, the human skeleton is the most efficient design on the planet for standing. In an upright position, our three bony masses—head, rib cage, and pelvis—stack one on top of another, and all three align over the feet. See what benefits await you. 107

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