Ask the Coach
How can I improve my posture?
Posture is a first impression and reveals a lot about your personality and how well your body is moving. Good posture is powerful, confident and strong. Think of good posture as standing tall, with an uplifted, open chest and head high. Improving your posture can improve how you feel and how you are perceived!
Despite how poor posture looks it can cause chronic back, neck, hip and shoulder pain; including difficulty breathing, digestive issues and nerve compression. Not to mention good posture is sexy.
Common posture problems are a forward head posture and rounded shoulders. This combined with weak back muscles will cause discomfort over time. Stretching and strengthening are required, with consistency, to improve these imbalances. A multi-faceted approach produces the best results.
Stand relaxed with eyes closed and have a friend take pictures of you: front, back and both sides. Examine them and see where your areas of opportunity are. Feet should be shoulder width apart, with knees, hips, head and shoulders level. From the side, your ears should be over your shoulders, shoulders over your hips, hips over your knees, etc. It’s like dropping a plumb line from the center of your head and seeing what's offline.
Assessments can get very detailed, so we will address some common imbalances. First, forward head posture and rounded shoulders. Stretch your chest muscles; grab the door frame, below your hips and step through, stretching the pecs, shoulders, biceps; all opening up the chest. Clasp your hands behind you with locked elbows seated or standing. Keep your head and chest up. Raise your arms for a deeper stretch. Chest stretch over a Swiss ball or use a dumbbell on the ball for pullovers. Neck stretches are also important for the front and sides. Strengthen your back with seated rows, rear shoulders and pull downs. Pec deck machine or any type of chest flys, keeping the arms long, with good posture, also opens up the chest. Use a 2:1 ratio for back to chest exercises. The general idea is to stretch the front and strengthen the back of the upper torso. See a fitness or medical professional for a full evaluation.
Sway low back with a forward pelvic tilt is also common. This often causes lower back problems. Muscles that need to be stretched are the hip flexors and low back. Muscles that need strengthening are abdominal and glute muscles. Stretches for this condition are; pyramid stretch over the ball, kneeling hip flexor stretch quadriceps stretch, and hug knees to chest. Stretch on a hyper extension machine. Roll your quads on a foam roller. Two tennis balls tied in a tube sock gets into the glute muscles and low back for releasing areas of tightness. Massage, yoga and other types of soft tissue treatments are beneficial. Strengthen the glutes and abs with pelvis tilt to bridge, single-leg glute bridge, exercise ball hip bridge, frog sit up, hamstring curls, glute trainer machines and box step ups. Search ab training or any of the terms used here to see a picture and description of the movement.
There are many other areas you can address with posture; scoliosis, knees, ankles, feet and even leg length. Rotations in the pelvis or shoulder girdle can also be involved. Maintaining good posture over your lifetime is important! Next time you go to the mall or the beach just check out some of the postures you see and notice what looks good and what doesn't. Evaluate your posture and get started with a posture correcting plan now.