Posture


by Tyler Mah, Nexen Personal Trainer

Workout of the week: Do 4 rounds or 30 minutes, whichever takes longer

  1. 3x 3m Crab walk forwards and backwards
  2. 4x move a pile of weights from one spot to another spot 2 m away. -Have 10 weights (ie. dumbbells, kettlebells) between 15 and 45 pounds in one spot. Proceed to move one at a time from one spot to another as quickly as possible with proper lifting form. Pick up the heavier weights with both hands.
  3. 20x Spiderman pushups
  4. 20 x alternating bent over row
  5. 10x overhead squats

Posture is the structural organization of our bones and the muscles, ligaments and tendons that suspend them in such positions. We can have good and bad posture. Think of our body as a suspension bridge. The deck represents our body, the traffic represents the daily stresses our body experiences, the towers are the bones and the suspension cables are the soft tissue (muscles & connective tissue). If the cables aren’t set up correctly with the right tension going through each of them (too loose or too tight), tighter cables wear out quicker than slack ones and more importantly the stress on the deck will be uneven causing excessive twisting and bending in specific spots. Like our body, specific spots are too tight or too lose and we get excessive wear in those areas that result in pain or injury.  We can control our posture and adjust ourselves to reduce the unnecessary stress, but it takes some effort to do and more to correct.

Below is a picture of what proper posture looks like and common example of poor posture.  As you can probably tell even without the markers, good posture organizes the skeleton like you would stack a bunch of blocks to make a tower. If you segment the body into horizontal slices, you would have the centre of mass of each slice lined up vertically. This is the template for exercise as well as sitting.

alignment

So there it is, a picture of ideal alignment. Shoulders back, a nice neutral curve in the spine, neutral pelvic position, which will result in the ear, shoulder, hip and ankle in a vertical line. It’s not so simple to do if you don’t have good posture by default, but practicing good posture is a great place to start.  Here are some key points to get you started:

  • Lightly squeeze your buttocks and tuck your tailbone between your legs whether your standing or seated.  This will stabilize your pelvis and take pressure off of your lower back as well as turn on your abs. Try squeezing your buttocks but while poking your abs with your finger.
  • Sit or stand tall, imagine the crown of your head stretching towards the sky.
  • Roll your shoulders back and down with the muscles between the shoulder blades (rhomboid muscles) gently squeezed, not clenched tight.
  • Tuck the chin, imagine holding a ball between the chin and collar bone.
  • Move around regularly. Change positions often (ie. sitting to standing, raise and lower your chair, recline, sit up, shake a leg, roll the shoulders, and so on). The human body is meant to move, if static for long periods, it gets stuck as described in Connecting to Connective Tissue.

To advance to good posture under load (like exercise or just moving a heavy object), you really have to stabilize.  Dr. Kelly Starrett talks about midline stabilization of the trunk below, but if you want an in depth talk about this, watch this.

The next step is to get into the nitty gritty.  If it were only that simple to fix ourselves.  Many of us have pain and years even decades of built up tension in the joints, muscles and connective tissue. For the next three weeks I will be diving into the alignment of the lower body, midsection and the upper body. Starting from the ground up, we will look at common issues and simple home remedies to help get them aligned right.

  • Next week: Lower Body: Hips, knees and ankles
  • Following week: Midsection: The lumbar spine
  • The week after: Upper Body: Upper back, shoulders and neck.

Tyler Mah, B.SC, CEP-CPT Nexen Personal Trainer

Tyler Mah, B.SC, CEP-CPT
Nexen Personal Trainer
Click here to learn more about Tyler

 

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