4 TIPS FOR BUILDING A “CORE STACK” FOR BETTER POSTURE: GAMERS TAKE NOTE!
Poor posture is the dark side of the gaming force. A posture lacking in a stable base leaves itself open to bad habits and ultimately pain. Compiling results from our survey, we see many of you cite symptoms such as neck, shoulder or back pain, and the direct relationship it has to poor posture may come as a surprise. There aren’t many gamers that own their posture and can keep enough tension in their core to sit tall for hours of gaming. There is no perfect chair or special pillow that is going to correct this for you, the products on the market will only ever act as a crutch. Building a better foundation starting with a stable base will be the only way to reverse the instance of pain and allow you to sit in any chair you like.
Holding a specific seated position is a tricky one for gamers. As you become immersed in your strategy or lean forward to see that enemy in the background, as hours go by and your butt gets numb, you shift around, fall forward, slouch back and your base becomes unstable.
If you are a gamer who feels pain in your neck, shoulders or back, owning your posture and building a stable core stack is extremely important.
Poor posture will lead to:
- poor breathing
- back pain (upper and lower)
- shoulder pain (and forward shoulder rounding)
- hypoxia (starving your tissues of oxygen)
A great posture will lead to:
- better breathing (for stress management)
- less pain (in those areas once thought not to be connected)
- better performance (you can’t be a fighter pilot with poor posture)
- better results
Creating a blueprint for a better posture involves learning about the following 4 body areas and putting in place a systematic approach to controlling how they move and sit properly in position.
THE PELVIS — THIS ONE IS ALL ABOUT LEANING HOW TO CONTROL YOUR PELVIC TILT
To best control and find your pelvic tilt mechanics:
- Get onto your knees
- put your hands on your pelvic bones (think top of hip)
- tuck your tail bone down (posterior pelvic tilt)
- push your tail bone back and out (think Kim Kardashian)
- find a happy medium where your pelvis sits in line with your spine, there should be no lower back straining or pain.
For a seated position, finding a 90 degree angle where the top of your legs aligns with your torso allows for a much more stable core base.
THE T-SPINE — THIS IS ALL ABOUT CONTROLLING YOUR RIB FLARE (NOT RICK FLARE NO ONE CAN CONTROL RICK FLARE!)
To gain T-Spine control and avoid rib flare:
- flare your ribs up and out (push your chest up towards the ceiling)
- bring your ribs down and into the stack (think about crushing a pop can that is located at your belly button)
- stop when you hit that 90 degrees (legs to torso)
- lift your chest and torso up towards creating elongation and tension (much different from rib flare)
LEARN ABOUT YOUR SHOULDERS AND HOW TO SET YOUR SCAPULA
This should happen naturally after you’ve achieved control of your T-Spine, your scapula (or shoulder blades) slide up and down and in windshield wiper movements across your back.
- try rolling your shoulders up and forward, this causes rounding in your upper back and puts your shoulders in an anterior (forward) tilt.
- do the reverse by lifting and rolling your shoulders back — this will cause some rib flare so combine this with the can crushing as mentioned above (end with your palms facing out in front of you for best control)
- find your happy medium where you have a slight stretch in the neck and your ribs are not flared out
LEARN ABOUT YOUR NECK AND HEAD
The neck is quickly becoming the epicenter of pain for gamers and digital professionals. The term Text-Neck is new to the medical world created for the pain felt in the upper neck where the spine attaches to the skull. This is directly related to poor posture and the use of smart phones. To learn how your head and neck stack up do the following:
- roll your head on your neck creating a large circle first clockwise and then counter clockwise (with good posture habits this should come with no pain at all)
- push your chin out as far as you can
- pull your chin in creating a double chin (don’t worry no one is looking!)
- find a happy neutral
Add a 3 second belly breath when you achieve each of the 4 favored posture positions mentioned above.
Use this image as a guide for breath timing, think about filling a balloon inside your stomach.
Finally, use these measures to help find where your breathing stacks up:
- How long can you hold your breath (quality in seconds)
- Resting Breathing Rate (quantity in 60 sec)
- Resting Heart Rate
Get to a lower heart rate through better breathing to alleviate stress
These drills should lead you to build a better CORE STACK and teach you a bit about your upper body and how all the elements combined are necessary for a better posture. All of you out there that feel pain in areas need to be more diligent than those who don’t. It takes time, practice and a willingness to learn to reverse years of bad habits. The most important thing to remember is to reset your posture, get into your stable CORE STACK and hold it for as long as you can. No one is expected to sit rigid for hours while gaming but taking a 5 min break every hour to reset is very possible. If any of this comes along with pain in any of the areas, please reach out to us for a more detailed discussion on what works and doesn’t work for you.