“No slouching at the table!”
“You look like a slob, now straighten that back!”
Sound familiar?? These are things my mom used to say to me and my brother. My ballet teacher would either lightly smack my head or butt telling me to either stand straight or bring that pelvis forward!
As a trainer (and I’m sure other trainers do the same thing) I watch and analyze how people walk, sit, run, carry items, etc. My husband will get annoyed with this sometimes. We’ll be having a great conversation and then I blurt out, ‘Holy Moly that ladies shoulder is internally rotated and her throacic spine is broken!’ Whenever this happens, I just want to reach out and help these people!
Today, I wanted to point out a few things about posture and how to improve it. Most American jobs consist of sitting at a computer for 8 hours until our eyeballs fall out. Most companies only offer a half hour break so most of us will continue to eat at our desk. WALK AWAY FROM IT WILL YA!!?? Did you know that when you eat at your desk you are more than likely to snack later (Claire Bates, 2010)?? Not only that its a germ breeding ground! Take a moment to tip that keyboard upside down and watch how much junk falls out. Pretty gross.
I used to be a receptionist and I never had shoulder problems until I landed that job. It’s frustrating when something hurts, and you never really moved around to cause strain! Well……that’s the problem. Prolonged slouching can cause shoulder, neck, wrist, and back problems. About 80% of my clients have rotator cuff problems and/or neck and back strain. So I use a lot of therapy exercises to help improve the thoracic spine.
Below, are a few indicators that your posture needs improvement:
- elevated hip or shoulder
- forward lean of the head
- slouching of the shoulders
- Inverted chest
- rounding of the back
- Internal/external rotation of the hip
A sedentary work life, over compensation of an injured body part, lack of exercise, and muscle imbalance can lead to poor posture.
It’s possible to change your bad posture habits. Integrating postural exercises and habits will increase your chances of kicking those bad habits for good. Below, are a few tips to improve your posture:
- Vary your position. Counter the bad effects of sitting by standing as much as you can. Standing with proper form uses less muscular effort then sitting (Idea Health and Fitness, 2010). Stand up and walk around as much as you can to keep that blood flow going. Switch your computer mouse to your left/right side. I know most of us are right handed, but you’ll get used to it, and your bum shoulder will thank you 🙂
- Develop your hip muscles. Weakness in the hips impacts the alignments of your pelvis and lower back. Add in exercises that involve the hip flexors, extensors, adductors, and abductors. For example, lateral walks with the band.
- Pay attention to that upper body. Most ignore working the smaller muscle groups in their upper back. I almost always see individuals bench press like a monster, but don’t focus on their rotator cuff. How do you plan on becoming successful in bench pressing if your rotators are weak? Add in some stabilization exercises inbetween your workouts, or even before your workouts (as warm ups for the upper body). You’ll start to notice that you can push more weight by keeping those rotators strong! A great workout that targets specifically the rotators is the cable external rotation at 90 degress. Thank you Eric Cressey for sharing this!
- Work on those glutes! If the glutes are weak, then the low back pain kicks in! Really focus on firing those glutes so you’re not so much quad dominate. I love having my clients do the cable pull throughs. For those of you who have a hard time getting down into a squat due to weak hips, this exercise is perfect for firing those glutes and hamstrings to help you get into a deep squat. Again, thank you Eric!
- Last but not least, live a healthy lifestyle. You are what you eat. If you don’t exercise, and eat unhealthy meals, then of course you’re going to feel like a pile of poop in the road. Choose wisely and take care of your body. You only get one life!!
There are a billion other ways to improve your posture, however, these few indicators are pretty important to keep in mind. With that in mind, keep your eyes peeled for more exercise tips!