Written by David Crowley
“Stop slouching!” “Sit up straight!” I’m sure we have all had this order thrown at us numerous times in the past but good posture is one of the fundamental building blocks of living a healthier life both inside and outside of the gym.
While studying to become a personal trainer, one of the first things they teach you and which gets repeated regularly is the importance of ensuring your client has good posture.
So why exactly is having good posture so important and how does it affect your overall quality of life?
Posture affects how we run, walk, jump, lift weights, as well as how we execute other tasks on a daily basis. Maintaining good posture promotes a neutral spine which ensures you move more efficiently and allows the internal organs to function as they were originally designed. This ultimately results in a happier and healthier body on the inside which translates to a happy and healthier body on the outside.
As if all of this wasn’t enough of a reason to stand up straight, here are some other benefits of good posture:
Good posture does wonders for self-confidence and creates a presence. Think of somebody who you would consider to be confident and check out their posture. In the vast majority of cases, you will notice that they stand tall which portrays confidence.
- Reduced Lower Back Pain
Standing or sitting with poor posture over time puts stress on the spine and supporting muscles. This can ultimately lead to constriction of blood vessels and nerves as well as issues with discs and joints.
Maintaining good posture opens the airways and ensures proper and deeper breathing. As a result, sufficient oxygen gets carried around the body and ensures that your nervous system, organs function more efficiently.
- Muscles and Joints
Good posture will decrease the wear and tear of joint surfaces which can result in joint pain or other conditions such as arthritis. It also reduces the stress on ligaments which should minimize the likelihood of injury.
- Improved Circulation and Digestion
Maintaining good posture allows the intestines in the abdomen to assume their natural position which promotes proper digestion of food as well as maximal vitamin and mineral uptake. Poor posture can result in numerous digestive issues such as acid reflux, constipation and in extreme cases hernias.
- State of Mind
When we feel good and on top of things, posture tends to be upright and open. In contrast, people who suffer from depression or chronic pain tend to have poor, slumped posture.
The next time you are feeling uptight or anxious, pay attention to your posture. Make an effort to stand or sit up straight which as already mentioned, will promote deeper breathing helping you to feel more relaxed and regain focus.
So what resistance exercises should one focus on in order to improve posture?
This will vary depending on the postural defect in question and it is important to identify the route cause in order to ensure that the correct area is worked on. In general however, poor posture can be narrowed down to a weakness in a few key areas.
A hunched posture which is usually the result of having tight chest muscles and a weak upper back can be alleviated by performing any movement which focuses on retracting the scapula / opening the chest such as Face Pulls, Dumbbell Flyes or Bent-Over Rows.
Another cause of substandard posture is having weak core muscles which may result in one slouching forward over time so it is important to focus on keeping these supporting muscles strong so they can keep you upright. Performing exercises such as Planks and Pike Roll-Outs are ideal.
Introducing exercises such as Deadlifts and Goblet Squats which focus on stretching the hip flexors, adductors and lumbar spine which if tight can result in poor posture will also assist greatly will also make a big difference over time.
Incorporating some or all of these exercises into your routine 2- 3 times per week will almost certainly see your posture improve and allow you to reap all of the benefits already mentioned.
When starting to live a healthier lifestyle, the smallest changes can often have the biggest impact. So start by paying attention to your posture because as we have seen, it impacts so many aspects of our lives from health, productivity and even our mood.