Are you Paying Attention to your Posture?
“Sit up straight!” “Don’t slouch!” I’m sure we’ve all heard those admonishing words more than once from our mother when we were growing up. And most of us would roll our eyes and as soon as mom walked away we’d slump back over in a hunch. Little did you know that she wasn’t just annoyed with how you were standing or sitting, there is a reason behind the madness! In fact she probably wasn’t aware of all the implications of poor posture herself! But somehow, some way your mother always seemed to know best.
What is good posture anyway and why is it so important? Basically posture refers to the body’s alignment and positioning with respect to the ever-present force of gravity. Whether we are standing, sitting or lying down gravity exerts a force on our joints, ligaments and muscles. Good posture entails distributing the force of gravity through our body so no one structure is overstressed.
While I was getting certified as a CPT (certified personal trainer) through ACE, they often bring up the importance of good posture while exercising and weight training. I learned that posture affects how you walk, run, jump, lift weights and execute other skills. Because of its many benefits, such as ease of movement, good balance of muscle strength and flexibility, proper positioning of the spine and proper functioning of internal organs, your body “feels” good and you therefore feel good!
6 Tricks to Improve Your Posture:
Be Conscious: The first step in improving your posture is too be aware of it. Take pictures of yourself from the side to assess if your shoulders are rounded forward and your neck is sticking out. Also be sure to take notice of your hip position. Are you leaning forward from the hips? It is very common to have very tight hip flexors if you have a job where you sit all day.
Track your Tilt: The pelvic tilt is a movement that helps you find a neutral spine. Most people with poor posture have what is known as an anterior pelvic tilt. An anterior pelvic tilt is best known as have an S shape when facing the side. Your stomach sticks out along with your glutes. Being in this position causes hip tightness and lower back pain. Learning how to correctly do a pelvic tilt will help you find a neutral spine. Keeping a neutral spine while exercising can help prevent injuries.
Stretch your Chest: Rounded shoulders are typically caused by tight pecs and weak back muscles. The shoulder girdle is dependent on the balance between the chest and the back. If your pecs are extremely tight it will pull your shoulder forward. With weak back and shoulder muscles, they are elongated which can extenuate the issue. Perform a door way stretch for 30-60 seconds at least three to five times per day. Stretching out your chest will help to balance out your shoulders.
Watch your Back: It’s always easier to train the muscles we can see (chest, shoulders and arms), but it is not as easy to train the muscles behind us. The average gym rat typically does too many pressing movements. As we learned earlier, when your chest is extremely tight or over dominating it will round the shoulders forward causing bad posture. Increasing your total back volume can help to add some balance to your body.
Get off your Heels: Correct distribution of weight in your feet will give your body optimal postural alignment. To stand upright, you must balance your body over your feet. Your spine should be aligned over your pelvis, with your weight evenly distributed between your feet. Many people stand with more weight over one foot or with their weight over only part of their feet. While standing, become aware of your feet. You should feel even pressure on the balls of your big toes, little toes and heels. This is the tripod of your foot. If you feel more pressure on one of these points, you are not in alignment. Relax your toes and knees and adjust your weight so the tripods of both feet feel equal pressure.