So, let’s explore ‘better posture’ and what this means:
This is not a one size fits all proposition. There is no “perfect posture” that we can take a snapshot of and then try to mold, twist, torque into to get an optimal result.
Each of you has a unique body. With different skeletal and muscle compositions. Different work, exercise and leisure routines that push and pull on your framework and result in different static and moving postures. We all are working from a different starting point.
One key element to “good posture” is having options. Being strong and stable in a number of different positions. An ability to adopt various postures with strength, safety and comfort throughout the day such that your skeleton and muscles remain adaptable.
All that to say I can’t pretend to know what is “better posture” for YOU. I am aware of a few typical patterns of tension. Common static postures that may not be favourable to hold over the long term.
- Because they impede our ability to breathe effectively
- Encourage our bodies to hold more stress than necessary
- Place undue pressure or strain on the low back and neck
- Increase tension through the shoulders and decrease strength through the upper and mid back
- Increase tension through the hip flexors and consequently impede our ability to generate power and strength from your glutes
- Facilitate gravitational pull with a negative bias. That encourages a forward bending and rounding of the spine that will in turn result in our skeletons adapting to that compressed shape.
Maybe one definition of a “better posture” is one that allows us to withstand or mitigate the stressors or work, recreation and aging so that we are stronger, more able and more comfortable as we age…?
In any case, if any of the challenges above describes you to some extent, then maybe I can help you adopt a “better posture” for you.
If you’re a practical individual, you might want to use some simple bands – we’ll take you through a workout that helps open out the tight areas, strengthen the under active areas and start to shift your muscles and skeleton towards a “better posture”.
The trick is to create both mobility and stability concurrently. That is to open up the tight area in order to encourage the muscles and bones to which they attach to sit in a more optimal position. And then to either at the same time or immediately afterwards call on the muscles that are responsible for maintaining that new, “better” position to fire. Create new muscle stimulation, awareness and strength.
Let me take you through one written example:
Challenge: Shoulders that sit in an anterior and elevated position (forward and high)
Consequences: Tight anterior shoulders, tight pectoral muscles. Stretched and weak muscles through the upper back. Strain through the neck and likely lower back as well. Difficulty breathing.
- Mobilize: The front of the shoulder. Use a lacrosse ball or other mobility/stretching techniques to open up the chest and shoulders.
- Stabilize: Either concurrently (see above) or immediately after the mobility exercise.
Actively retract and depress the shoulder blades. Encourage the head to sit on top of the spine, centered over the shoulder girdle instead of craning forward. Activate the muscles through the posterior shoulder, through the mid back and around the thoracic and cervical spine to create new movement patterns and strength that will encourage the shoulders to sit back a little further, the top of the sternum and chest to remain a little more open, and the neck to sit nicely balanced in direct opposition to the earth’s natural gravitational pull.
“It’s not the load that breaks you. It’s how you carry it.” – Lou Holtz