By Jared Kauffman
Posture is a very general word, and probably invokes a different thought and feeling in everyone. However, everyone likely has one similar feeling, that their posture could be better. Furthermore, they could look around in a public area and pick out a dozen people who’s posture could be better. All of us have heard at some point to stand up or sit up straight. Due to many different aspects of our modern life, the body tends to fall forward and slouch. We are then fighting every minute to keep from toppling over. This poor posture relates to many physical and even psychological nuisances.
At the gym, we have many clients who come in with aches and pains. Lots of times these aches and pains can be alleviated with simple posture exercises. Like I said earlier, your body has to work to hold you upright. This requires certain muscles to do a job they are not made to do. These muscles end up overactive or underactive, and pull bones out of alignment. Improperly used muscles and misaligned bones are the biggest causes of musculoskeletal pain. This pain is the body’s way of telling us that something is wrong, or something is out of place. The forward rounded posture can also cause abdominal issues. It can compress your digestive organs and especially in the seated position it can make digestion difficult for the body. Moreover, this compression makes diaphragmatic breathing difficult. Therefore the body uses the rib muscles and rib expansion to breath. This type of breathing can trick the body into thinking its in distress, and fails to completely fill the lungs.
Beyond the physical aspect, poor posture can have an effect on, and be affected by, the mind. Very generally, people with more slumped tired looking postures tend to feel that way. This posture could be caused by being tired, depressed, stressed, or whatever is your cause, or this posture could eventually lead to all these things. Contrarily, positive people tend to hold their head up and shoulders back, and people that hold their head up and shoulders back find it easier to be more positive and happy. The mind has a very powerful influence over the body. Try it at home, stand up straighter with shoulders your back, try not to sit so much, see if you feel happier and have more energy. Then do the opposite, slump over with your head forward, sit down for a while and see if you feel tired and sad or more stressed.
These are good reference points for posture: Ears, shoulders, hips, knees, ankles. Good posture has all these points on the same vertical plane. Check yourself in the mirror, or have someone else check for you or take a picture. If you would like more information, or would like to talk about a posture assessment at KORE, ask a staff member. Here are three exercises that you can do at home that reinforce good posture, or can help bad posture.
Static Back – Lie on your back, lower legs supported, 90 degrees at hips and knees, ankles, knees, hips, shoulders in line, arms out straight and below the shoulders palms up. Be as relaxed as possible. A chair or a couch works well for this.
Minimum 10 minutes maximum 30 minutes. The point of this exercise is to allow things that are misaligned to settle into the flat ground. Its good for hips, back, shoulders, and neck. If you have lots of headaches and your head is forward, try this for a while and see if your headache goes away.
Air bench – Hips and low back pressed against the wall, feet about hip width apart, slide down the wall till hips and knees are at 90 degrees, knees are over the ankles. Keep the weight through your heels, glutes and quads engaged equally.
Start at 2 minutes total, breaking up as needed. Try to hold for a least one minute at a time.
Air bench helps the lower body relearn to be loaded properly.
Supine groin – Lie supine, one leg supported as in static back, the other leg extended out straight supported to keep the toes straight up. Relax.
At least 10-15 minutes, up to 45 minutes each leg, if needed.
The key here is to relax. Supine groin helps the hip flexors remember how long they should be.
As an added benefit to our clients, we do posture assessments on an individual basis for chronic pain issues. We find that even the most severe chronic pains can be at the minimum mitigated by doing corrective posture exercises like these above.