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posture

The Science Behind Poor Posture

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The Science Behind Poor Posture

One of the most common things we, as trainers, address and aim to improve in many of our clients is posture. Sedentary lifestyles are definitely not conducive for good posture - in fact, sedentary lifestyles, and specifically sitting, are the main cause of most postural issues. Among other things, sitting can contribute to tightness in the hips, abdominals, hamstrings, and chest, and these can all contribute to a slouched posture - and no, tight abs will not give you a flat stomach. It’s not unheard of, and actually somewhat common, to have a muscle group be both tight and weak - the tightness is usually a result of compensation for the muscle group’s weakness. I’m not going to get into too much of the nitty gritty so as to focus on how to combat poor posture, so take my word for it - tightness in these muscle groups are leading contributors to a less-than-ideal posture.

If these are some of the main culprits, it would make sense that strengthening the antagonist, or opposite muscle groups to these would help improve a slouch - and most of the antagonistic muscles are responsible for pulling actions. I’ll start with perhaps the most beneficial exercise: the deadlift.

Most of the work done during a deadlift is centered in the lower body, but it’s technically a full-body exercise. There are a few different variations of the deadlift, but I’ll talk about the conventional deadlift for now. The deadlift is considered a lower-body pull, and helps to strengthen almost every muscle that directly or indirectly contributes to good posture. The main movers during a conventional deadlift are the glutes and the spinal erectors. The glutes are hip extensors (if in a standing position, pull the leg behind the hips), and strengthening them can help alleviate tightness in their antagonist, the hip flexors (pull the legs towards the chest). The erectors in the back, located at either side of the spine, are also strengthened during a deadlift. This group of muscles are responsible for extending the back - ideal to combat chronic flexion, or forward rounding, of the back. The lats, rhomboids (skeletal muscles in the back), certain fibers of the traps, and deep cervical flexors of the neck are also worked during a deadlift, but do so through isometric contractions, which occur when a muscle is neither lengthened or shortened during its contraction - the length of the muscle stays the same.

Now, to upper body pull. The main movers responsible are the muscles that contract isometrically during a conventional deadlift: the lats, rhomboids, and some fibers of the traps. I’m simplifying the issue to a degree, but chronic sitting can lead to rounded shoulders, which can more often than not be attributed to tightness in the chest - specifically, in the pec major and minor. The pec muscles are push muscles, and like I said, strengthening the antagonist, the pull muscles, can combat the effects of tightness in these push muscles. The lats are responsible for extending and internally rotating the shoulder, the rhomboids contribute to retracting, or pulling back the shoulder blades, and the fibers of the traps that contribute the most to posture, the low traps, depress the shoulder blades down the back. Almost all pulling motions that you do with the upper body will strengthen these muscles, though I will say that targeting the low traps is a bit more challenging than targeting the lats and rhomboids.

If, for work or for leisure, you find yourself sitting for long periods of time, pulling motions are your friend! No one wants bad posture, but most jobs require sitting for most, if not all of the workday. You may have heard that “sitting is the new smoking” - well, that’s seems like it's not too far off from the truth.


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How to Become a Posture Pro

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How to Become a Posture Pro

Are you aware of your posture?

It’s not all about puffing your chest out or rolling your shoulders back, as a matter of fact that should be the least of your worries. Yes, those two factors may help your posture, but for how long or how long until you feel uncomfortable? We all want less back pain, less stress, less neck and shoulder pain, improved breathing, and improved energy. Let yourself control the outcome. Body awareness is one aspect that is overlooked but can be the most useful when trying to correct your posture.

“Posture isn't just physical.  It's a psychophysical (mind/body) state that we get into in response to our environment, emotions, and people with whom we interact.”

We habitually tend to put ourselves in postural problems by overly tensing certain muscles in the neck and shoulders that actually pull our heads out of alignment with the spine. Being aware of how your body feels and concentrating on your body movements one thing leads to another; it will allow you to have better focus in general, your body will be in a better alignment,  and can help reduce pain and stress. With the proper help at P4L, learning these aspects will help decrease your pain and discomfort.

Key training tools you’ll gain from us?

  • Observations : we observe and assess your movements
  • Breathing : different ways of breathing that create proper balance in core stability and muscle distribution
  • Corrective exercises and proper queues : modified exercise to fit your body type
  • Proper coaching on body awareness (what/how you should feel)
  • Results and feedback  : measurements of spinal and pelvic angles to show improvements in alignment

Practice, practice, practice! How else will you become good at something? Practicing proper posture alignment with the help of body awareness takes time, concentration, and persistence. For example, reflect on that time when you took the LSATS, or when you had your first corporate presentation (now, you’re a pro), or something even as simple as riding a bike. It does not happen all at once, but being mindful about your body can create an improvement in exercise performance, decreased stress and pain, and better concentration.

 

 

 

Learn more about Coach Brandon here
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Sources:

http://www.nyposturepolice.com/posturepolice/\

http://sonomabodybalance.com/2013/03/the-value-of-body-awareness/\

http://peh-med.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1747-5341-6-6


Image: 

http://www.swolept.com/posts/how-to-have-a-straight-back-your-guide-to-good-posture#.WBhN55MrKt8

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All About Posture: The T-Spine

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All About Posture: The T-Spine

WHAT IS IT?

The thoracic spine resides in the mid and upper back, between the cervical and lumbar spines. This is an area of the body that is supposed to have a lot of mobility in a completely healthy person. Figure 1 shows via a joint by joint analysis of the human body that thoracic spine should be mobile while the cervical and lumbar are stable.

Learn more about Coach Amber hereLearn more about Coach Amber hereWHO USES IT ON A DAILY BASIS?

You! The human body will adapt to something it does repeatedly, even sometimes if it isn't in our greatest interest. In today's society it's pretty hard to avoid doing say, driving, sitting at desk, or just leaning forward to look at your phone. These are all habits that, unless great posture is kept, can each worsen shoulder slumping and thoracic mobility. Think about how much time you personally spend in a chair each day, do you keep good posture the whole time? That is how life is in this day and age, always moving or leaning forward.

HOW DO I WORK TO IMPROVE MY POSTURE?

 Check out the video above this post to see a couple simple exercises that can be done just about anywhere!

IF MY BACK DOESN'T EVEN HURT, THEN WHY SHOULD I DO IT?

Thoracic immobility can stem into pain in multiple spots. Like stated above in the joint by joint analysis the cervical and lumbar spines should be stable, but when the thoracic spine is immobile one or both of these can become mobile. Mobility in these spots can be bad news, leading to chronic issues in the neck and lower back, or even a larger acute injury. By adding corrective exercises to your training routine that are aimed at increasing thoracic mobility, you can reduce pain and increase performance of most measures.

 

 

 

Learn more about Coach Anthony here

 

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