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Posture & Antifragility

Posture and Antifragility

On reading Antifragility, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (author of The Black Swan) I am struck with how well his model explains a lot about posture.  From the observation that some things are hurt by and other benefit from randomness, he extrapolates a coherent view of our complex and unpredictable world ranging from society to health (although he only mentions posture briefly- p 58 “The lady in Figure 2, thanks to a lifetime of head-loading water jugs, has outstanding health and excellent posture”–along the way he echos many of my critiques of modern medicine and big pharm.)

Since I liked his insight and ideas, I posted on the author’s Facebook page the following explanation of how sensory and motor mismatch errors cause problems.

Below is the post…and Taleb “Liked it”.

“My contention is that a large part of the bio-mechanical degeneration commonly associated with aging results from a maladjustment between perception of environment and the reality of environment. (e.g. I think I am moving with symmetry, but the reality is otherwise.)  Asymmetrical mechanical stress results, with asymmetrical effects.

Over time and combined with physical remodeling from excessive sitting and injuries, greater errors in perception lead to greater errors in motor output in a spiral of mechanical stress and asymmetry causing more asymmetry and mechanical stress. In addition, the accumulation over time of errors between sensory input and motor output results in another problem of aging: falls ( I thought my leg could clear the ground…reality disagrees…I fall)

The solution is to systematically force error correcting with an exercise protocol requiring the individual to correlate internal perception of posture and motion with external reality in a progressively more random environment. Exercise machines which artificially track motion allow subtle errors to continue and do not retrain sensorimotor patterns. The strategy is to give feedback as a auditory or tactile cue to allow the person to come closer to aligning perceived and objective motion and position by internally controlling that motion. (e.g. much of yoga and Pilates, as well as clinical focused motion protocols using exercise balls and foam pads to challenge balance and control).”

The latter describes the StrongPosture® exercise taught by CPEPs.  I hope to follow-up at some point with Taleb to discuss in more detail.


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