What is posture?
Posture is the positioning of your body. Ideal posture is the correct alignment of the body in relation to the activity being performed and the requirements of the body to complete the action.
How does your posture get bad?
We are creatures of habit; you do the same things day in and day out—without realizing that over time these things have a negative effect. Whether it’s leaning on one leg when standing, spending too much time sitting, crossing your legs, working on a computer, sitting on your wallet, carrying your purse on the same shoulder, wearing high heels, slouching, or looking down at your phone, these things cause your posture to slowly deteriorate. Because it’s so incremental, you don't realize these habits have a profound effect on the structure and stability of your neuromusculoskeletal system which affects your quality of life and self-confidence. Then, one day you look in the mirror and realize that your body is out of sync; your neck is out of alignment, your shoulders are rounded, and posterior pelvic tilt has set in along with all the aches and pains that come along with poor posture.
Why is posture important?
If ignored, bad posture can and will cause all sorts of problems, including daily aches and pains, poor lifting form, muscular imbalances, and negative self-image. The correction of bad posture will help all of these issues. We will look at the most common postural issues, their causes and how to fix them.
Forward Head Posture
Cause and effect:
Generally, a forward neck develops as part of the modern “computer posture or text neck” and from leaning forward to complete everyday tasks such as working on a computer, reading, studying, and using the phone. Over time, the development of forward neck gives the appearance of a “turtle” like neck, with the head protruding forward in front of the shoulders.
1) Chin Tuck (Video above)
Start with your shoulders rolled back and down. Look straight ahead, place two fingers on your chin, slightly tuck your chin and move your head back. Hold for two to five seconds and then release. Repeat 10 times. Perform 3 sets.
2) Cervical Extension with a Towel (Video above)
Start with your shoulders rolled back and down. Tuck your chin. Roll up a small towel and place it behind your mid-neck . Grab the ends of the towel and pull forward putting a couple pounds of pressure on the back of your neck. Then look up towards the ceiling until you feel a stretch in the musculature in the front of the neck. Hold for two to five seconds and then return to neutral position. Repeat 10 times. Perform 3 sets.
3) Cervical Traction
Please consult your chiropractor before starting traction.
Cause and effect:
Round shoulders develop from daily tasks like sitting front of a computer, driving for long periods, and looking at your phone. Tight chest muscles pull your shoulders forward causing them to round. When you add weak back and rotator cuff muscles to the mix, you have nothing to help counteract this rounding. If left untreated, it can cause pain through the back and neck, and contribute to overall bad posture.
To fix rounded shoulders you must first stretch the chest then build strength in the rhomboids, mid/lower traps and rotator cuffs.
1) Stretch your pecs. (Video above)
Using an open door frame, place your bent arms against either side of the door with your elbows in line with your shoulders. Adopt a staggered stance and push your chest forward until you feel a stretch in the chest. Hold the stretch for 10-15 seconds or until the muscles relax. Repeat this three times.
2) Pec stretch with 36" foam roller. (Video above)
Using a smooth foam roller, lie on the floor with the roller running down the length of your back. Make sure you neck is resting on the foam roller. Bend your arms and move them up and down, then straighten your arms wide and move them up and down. Keep alternating between bent and straight arms until you feel a stretch through the front of the shoulders and chest. Perform for 30–60 seconds.
3) Foam roll upper back muscles
Place the foam roller in your mid-back. From here, interlock your fingers behind your head. Keeping your butt on the floor, extend your back over the roller and hold at points of tension for 10–15 seconds. Then roll up and down your upper and mid back.
4) Strengthen rhomboids and mid/lower traps. There are many variations of exercises to strengthen your rhomboids and mid/lower traps which will bring your shoulders back and down. I have a compiled some of my favorites in the videos above. Pick 3-4 that work best for you.
Anterior Pelvic Tilt
Cause and effect:
Anterior pelvic tilt is another way of saying your pelvis is tilted forwards. It’s caused by sitting incorrectly, weak or inactive hamstrings and glutes, and tight quadriceps and hip flexors. The glutes, hamstrings and abdominals work to rotate the hips backwards, which results in a more upright posture and flatter stomach. Naturally, when they are weak or inactive, they contribute to the hips rotating forward. Tight hip flexors and quads make this problem worse by pulling on your hips, rotating them forward and causing anterior pelvic tilt.
Anterior pelvic tilt varies in severity. If you have it, your lower back arch is pronounced, your butt sticks out, and your stomach protrudes forward. If left untreated, it can also cause pain and tightness throughout the body.
There are three steps to fixing your anterior pelvic tilt: stretching tight muscles, strengthening weak muscles, and maintaining a neutral pelvis position everyday.
1) Stretch the hip flexors (Video above)
Get in a lunge position. Maintaining an upright body position, squeeze your glute muscle on the back leg and push the hips forwards. Hold this position for 15-30 seconds, increasing the depth of the stretch as you adapt. To increase the stretch, try taking the arms up overhead.
2) Stretch the quadriceps (Video above)
Standing straight, bend one leg and take hold of the ankle. Keeping your body in line, pull the heel of the bent leg as close to your glute as possible. Squeeze the glute, push the hips forward and hold the stretch. If you are having trouble balancing, grab hold of something with your free hand or perform this exercise lying face down on the floor. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds on each leg.
3) Perform bridge holds to build strength in the glutes and hamstrings (Video above)
Lying on your back, bend your knees and put your feet flat on the floor hip width apart. Keeping your back and core flat, bring your heels as close to your butt as possible. From here, focus on squeezing your glutes to lift your hips up and bring your body into a straight line. Hold at the top before slowly lowering back down. Repeat for eight repetitions. Rest for 30 seconds, then completed two more sets. You can use your arms for stability if you need to.
4) Perform plank holds to build strength in the glutes, hamstrings and abdominals
Adopt a push-up position, but instead of being on your hands, rest your weight on your forearms. You want your body to be in a straight, neutral position, your back elongated, and your hips in-line (no sagging and not in the air) with your knees and legs straight. Contract your abs, imagine you are sucking your belly button into your spine, squeeze your glutes, and hold this position for 30–60 seconds.
Posterior Pelvic Tilt
Cause and effect:
The opposite of anterior pelvic tilt. Caused by sitting too much, slouching, tight hamstrings, and weak quadriceps.
1) Hamstring stretch (Video above)
Put your toes up against a wall, with your heel on the floor, and keep your knee locked. Lean back by sticking your butt out until you feel a stretch in your hamstring. Get your shoulders back and down and lean forward as if you are trying to get your chest as close to the wall as possible. Then look up towards the ceiling and hold that pose for 10 seconds. Perform 3 sets per leg. In this pose you are addressing posterior pelvic tilt by stretching your hamstrings while recreating a normal lumbar curve. At the same time our are getting your shoulders back and down to reverse rounded shoulders and restoring the normal cervical curve to combat forward head posture.
2) Strengthen quadriceps (Video above)
Perform squats by standing with your feet shoulder width apart. Interlock your fingers behind your neck and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Then slowly bend your knees with most of your weight on your heels as if you are going to sit on a chair. Make sure to keep your low back neutral or in slight extension. Do 10 reps. Perform 3 sets.
3) Lumbar traction
Please consult your chiropractor before performing traction.
In a world in which we spend so much of our time sitting down, you’ll be surprised how quickly your posture can deteriorate without you realizing it. One morning, you wake up in pain, feeling stiff and out of alignment. You’re left wondering how you got there and what to do about it.
With these stretches and exercises, you can remove the guesswork and start improving your posture and health today.
It's no secret that our posture, sedentary lifestyle, and bad movement patterns put too much stress on the lower spine and the small back muscles. Foundation training is based on the simple but unique idea that strengthening the posterior chain (multifidi, erector spinae, and quadratus lumborum) allows the strong muscles in your back to do their job of supporting the weight of the upper body and propelling movement. These exercises are designed to change destructive movement patterns and build a powerful posterior chain, which begins with a strong lower back.
With Foundation training you are building a solid muscular base. From there you can go anywhere with flexibility, power, and endurance. Once you learn to move properly, there are few limits to what you can achieve physically. Living without pain will boost your energy level and attitude. So get moving - the right way - and see how much better you feel.