I almost want to put 'aligned' in quotes, like I just did. Why? What does 'aligned' really mean? How do you get there? How will you (or I (or one)) be better, once aligned? It's too soon to tell, personally, but 'aligned' I will be.
Here's the gist on 'alignment.' I won't use the terms 'theory' or 'hypothesis' because they are someone else's, and I'll never get the right words out of their mouths and type them here correctly. From me, you get 'the gist.'
The gist of alignment (or 'Alignment as I see it')
Gravity points down. Or pulls us that way, at least.
My friend Jason Dolby once illustrated the proper way to hold a heavy weight overhead. He called it bone stacking, and asked us to visualize a straight line from the feet, all the way up the heavy weight overhead. If everything is not in a perfectly straight line, muscles on either side have to either relax or tense up to keep you from toppling over. We do this to some degree all the time; it's part of balancing (aka standing). When we stand, we are not perfectly still, we are constantly swaying, adjusting, and compensating to keep from falling down, toppling, buckling over, or crumpling into a heap.
Even the best aligned do these things, but the more things are 'all lined up' AND straight up and down (as gravity requires), the less work the muscles have to do.
Now, it's not really about letting us do less, per se, but more about letting us use the muscles for the right reason, at the right time, and with the right amounts of force.
Let's look at something less 'temporary' than holding a heavy weight overhead. Let's look at merely holding your head up.
Most of our heads weigh four to five kilograms!
...and the numbers more than double here in America where we use pounds!
If we are in perfect alignment, we do a pretty good job of balancing our heavy noggins on top of our necks, and the weight doesn't trouble us much. The modern world conspires against us, however. Today's world almost encourages us to crane our necks forward to see our televisions, computer screens, and road signs, while laptops, iPhones, books, and our little yapping lapdogs entice us to look down to see them better. All of these things bring your head out of alignment with the body below, but gravity doesn't take these things lightly. As a result, the muscles on the backside of your body have to do more work to keep your head from falling forward. If you're standing at the time, your whole body has to shift, contort, and twist to keep the weight of your head or the mass of your body) over your feet (i.e., balanced).
"Oh Gravity, Thou Art a Heartless Bitch" - Sheldon Cooper
Your body finds a way
...because if it doesn't you fall down.
'The way' is different for everybody, but in general, to compensate for a head forward posture, your body will either stick your pelvis forward or back, and let your back, quads, glutes, and hamstrings do all sorts of stupid things to compensate. ...just to keep your body following the laws of physics. In the end, you end up with some muscles that are locked on all the time and others that actually struggling to relax, just to give you some slack where it's needed. Down the road, the ones that slack off all the time get weak, long, and loose, while the ones that never get a break get short and tight, but never strong, really.
Every good problem has a vicious circle
...and this one is no different.
The weaker, longer, and looser one muscle gets, the tighter and shorter the opposing muscle gets, so pretty sure you might actually subconsciously jut your head farther forward to fix the gravity problem you're facing in the opposite direction. Eventually this vicious circle leads to things like the dowager's hump and cervical stenosis. Not pretty... Gravity is serious business, and is nothing to be trifled with.
"I don't know, lately I get the feeling that I'm not so much being pulled down as I am being pushed." - Phoebe Buffet on gravity
We're done for today. Take a short break for a fun five minutes with Phoebe and Ross, regarding evolution, crop circles, and gravity!
Have a great day, while looking forward to me forthcoming diatribes on 'fun with kneecaps' and the 'righting reflex!'