I’m sure most of you have been told to stand up straight or pull your shoulders back at some point in your life, two positions that we typically associate with “good posture”. As you will know when you have tried this, it’s possible to hold these improved postures for a few minutes, but as soon as your thoughts are diverted your body position creeps back to normal.
Unfortunately our current-day lifestyles do not typically support “good” posture and a disproportionate amount of time in any one position or doing any repetitive task can leave the body with huge imbalances in strength/tightness and mobility that will eventually present as pain or injury.
Posture will be badly affected by tight muscles so working to improve overall flexibility and mobility is important. When a muscle is tight it can physically impinge the ability of the skeleton to move, making the opposing muscles work really hard to create the desired ranges – a literal tug of war. Usually it’s this overwork and overuse that can cause injury.
Improving your posture requires a two-dimensional approach. We need to release tight muscles to increase the bodies movement abilty and range of motion. And we need to be strengthening the bodies support structure and core so that the bigger muscles get a break and the smaller ones are able to share their load.
Very often with poor posture the the body is too tight and too set in its ways for the muscles to let go and allow the help from the core. Below are some options of steps you might like to take to find some balance again.
Steps to improve your posture might include:-
– Increase your mobility – work on overall flexibility, not always just using static stretches but simple movements like threading a needle / shoulder rolls / arm circles / side bends / seated rotations / hip rolls / standing roll downs. Static stretches are great but try and make your mobility a little more dynamic using the above options, moving in and out of stretches. Think about “opening” and “lengthening” through your movements.
– Practice your breath work. Lie on your back and take some deep breaths but keep the rise and fall of your chest to minimum – try instead to breathe “deep and wide”, directing the breath into your armpits and mat can help to create space in a tight rib cage.
– Incorporate some core work – accessing your core will be tricky if your body is tight so it’s important to make this “step 3”. Mix up your abdominal work to incorporate your whole core – try building in some stability exercises like superman, supine toe taps or dead bugs, avoid just focusing on crunches.
Developing an exercise routine (and ideally incorporating a weekly session of pilates) that is careful and considered is important for core strengthening and improving posture. Try to vary your routine and consider the bodies need for movement in all directions and in all planes. Increasing your mobility will allow access to the smaller stabilising muscle groups which will help to hold you up more efficiently and in time without the need for constant correction.
To find out a more about Core Strength have a look at my Core Confidence programme here