Do you know if you have proper posture? The easiest way to asses your posture is simple. Stand with your feet against a wall, with your calves, buttocks, upper back, and head “comfortably” resting on the wall. If you can do this with ease, you most likely have pretty good posture. If you have to strain to keep any one of these body parts touching the wall, you have an alignment problem. Posture should be of utmost concern to anyone…..especially the athlete, or fitness minded individual. If you have a deviation in your posture, it is usually due to a lack of strength and balance in one, or more groups of muscles. Posture affects all aspects of our lives. How you sit, walk, run, lift, sleep, and even how you breathe is affected by posture. If you are curved forward at the shoulders, you most likely have shortened chest muscles, and lengthened upper back muscles. You have to stretch and strengthen accordingly. If you have a curvature of your spine, you could have imbalances in your hips, weakness in your abdominals, and pain. If one muscle has an imbalance, then the opposing muscles will work harder, or in the wrong way to overcome for the weaker muscle.
A great way to start to change postural imbalances is to asses why, or how they got that way. Do you sit at a desk all day? Is your work station one that will keep you in alignment, or wear and tear on your spine? You should have an adjustable chair, possibly lumbar support, and try to keep your knees slightly separated. Also try to limit the time you sit as much as possible.
Sleeping with a pillow that keeps the natural curvature of the neck, while sleeping on your back is a great help for neck and shoulder pain. Keeping a pillow under your knees also relieves some lower back pressure while in a reclining position.
The best thing you can do for posture, is strengthen your muscles that support your spine! Spinal problems are preventable! Practice slow, controlled weight training exercises with the assistance of a trainer, to make sure your form is correct. Learn how to pull in your abdominals, and learn how to keep your lower body strong by training the front, and back of all muscles. Tight hamstrings are a sure way to have lower back problems, so keep your training sessions balanced! Practice core strengthening planks, ball crunches, and exercises that you twist slowly with resistance to keep a strong, elongated spine. Using these few tips can change your future, and prevent unnecessary pain and trips to the doctor or physical therapist.
A strong, fit body, is only as strong as all of the systems combined, working together in harmony! Pay attention to the weaker ones, and you will be on your way to optimal health!
P.s. Check with your health care practitioner before starting any new strength training plan.
Use a certified fitness trainer for evaluations, and plans to strengthen your body.