February 9, 2021

Fix Your Posture!

If I tell you to “fix your posture”, what do you do? Do you just sit up straight and squeeze your shoulders back? Well, if that’s it, then you’re not getting the full picture of what good posture actually looks like. Today, I’m going to break it down and we’re going to discuss what you actually should be doing for true good posture and what NOT to do. It’s probably not what you think. Here we go…

 

I want to teach you some things to think about with your posture, and what to do and what NOT to do when it comes to posture.

What is posture?

We have a tendency to think it’s just sitting up straight and pulling your shoulders back. Essentially, it’s not “slumping” right? But actually, posture is more than that. 

  • Posture is proper joint alignment which leads to structural health
    • There are around 350 joints in the human body - where two or more different bones come together
    • Your joints are designed to hinge (knee), rotate (hip), glide (shoulder blade), or stabilize and not move very much (SI joint or lumbar joints)
    • Your soft tissues (ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and muscle tissues) hold these joints together and help them do their job properly. 
  • So when a particular joint is sitting “neutral” - meaning it’s not flexed or extended or rotated - then you get good posture. 

And when all of your joints have the ability to move the way they were designed to move, but then return and rest in neutral, that leads to optimal body function.

Something to keep in mind:

  • All of our anatomy is different - Humans have the same basic anatomy and bone shape, but we’re all so vastly different and what’s neutral for one person might not actually be neutral for another
    • (Paula - rotated tibia [shin bone], so her standing neutral meant that her feet were turned outward a little bit.) 
    • It’s pretty rare to have someone that has perfectly neutral alignment - in fact it doesn’t really exist.

Why posture matters

Two reasons: 1. Optimal movement 2. Less likely to have pain

  • Without good neutral alignment, compensation patterns get created
    • One muscle gets shorter, tighter and is forced to overwork, while the opposite muscle gets too long, loose, and weak. 
    • Pretty soon, you have pain. 
  • So if you want to avoid unnecessary pain and have your body work its absolute best, then good posture matters!

 

Good posture is more than just standing up straight and pulling your shoulders back:

  1. Here are the big joints to note
    1. Pelvis - it all starts here
      1. Not tilted in any direction. A lot of back pain stems from a pelvis that tilts forward, causing your low back to arch excessively. 
      2. Your pelvic posture determines your back 
    2. Rib cage - frequently overlooked - a lot of joints! 
      1. Not flared or shifted to the side
    3. Shoulder blades - these are like the pelvis of your shoulder joint...what your shoulder blades do, your shoulders are going to do
      1. Should have the ability to glide across your rib cage freely in all directions, but then rest in a position that’s drawn low and toward the spine. 
    4. Shoulders - much easier to fix once your pelvis, rib cage and shoulder blades are doing what they should
      1. Should not be rolled or rounded forwarded or stiffly elevated toward your neck and ears with tight muscles across the collarbone
      2. Think about rolling the heads of your shoulders backward
  1. Knees and feet - straight alignment
    1. Avoid rolling knees inward or pulling them too far out to the side
    2. Avoid allowing your feet to roll too far inward

 

  1. Breathing properly matters - if you breathe using the muscles of your upper rib cage, it’s going to create really tight neck and shoulder muscles. Practice breathing into your lower rib cage. 
    1. Try only expanding your lower ribs when you inhale and then when you exhale, see if you can get these lower ribs to compress into your abdomen and reduce the gap between your hip bones and these lower ribs.

Ways to achieve good posture - What to do and what NOT to do.

  • What to do
    1. Practice movements that create better body awareness and control - take each joint individually and move it in its full ranges of motions and just get a sense for where it’s at and how to control 
      1. Breathing
      2. Pelvic tilting
      3. Slow rolling punching
    2. Practice in as many positions as possible (standing, sitting, walking, lying down)
    3. Self-correct throughout the day
    4. Stretch the tight muscles
      1. Hip flexors
      2. Pecs & lats
    5. Strengthen the loose/long muscles
      1. Glutes
      2. Low traps and rhomboids
      3. Core muscles 
  • What NOT to do
    1. Don’t rely on external gadgets and gimmicks to fix your posture
    2. Don’t just squeeze your shoulder blades together while completely ignoring your pelvis and rib cage
    3. Don’t allow your body to keep getting short and tight in all the wrong areas, and then long and weak in all the wrong areas. 
      1. In other words, stop ignoring your posture and just assume that your body will feel fine

Try this today: 

  • Broomstick stretch 
  • Counter or chair thoracic/lat stretch  
  • Proper hip flexor stretch

Links mentioned in this episode:

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