As we spend more time sitting down or staring at devices, our posture often suffers. But why should we care about posture?
Lower back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain and knee pain. These are the most common complaints I get from clients starting holistic personal training with me. And nine times out of ten, it's because of poor posture. I should know, I've had them all.
When poor posture is maintained, one set of muscles become elongated and tight, while the antagonist muscles shorten. Let's look at an example - the rounded shoulders and forwards head posture of someone who works long hours at a computer, also called hunchback posture.
The muscles in the back of the neck and upper back are continually elongated, causing stiffness and pain. The muscles on the chest and fronts of the neck and shoulders shorten over time, resulting in the hunchback posture.
Our posture affects our mood, and our mood affects our posture. How does your posture look when depressed? The same rounded shoulders and forwards head posture! I noticed this in myself when suffering with depression. When I stood up straight and pulled my shoulders back, I instantly felt better.
Try it - roll your shoulders forwards and hang your head forwards and down. Notice how you feel. Now roll your shoulders up towards your ears and then down the back - contracting the shoulder blades together and puffing your chest out a bit. You should now look a bit like superman, and even if it feels a little unnatural, you can see how it makes you feel better.
Let's try one more - think of a sprinter crossing the line first and throwing their fists up in the air. That's the victory posture.
Do it. Feels great huh? Try this posture before an interview or talk if you're feeling nervous.
Your posture conveys your emotional state. If you have you chest out and head up, it conveys confidence and strength. People innately and unconsciously respond to body language.
If you have poor posture, you can drastically improve it! It's a process that takes some time, and includes exercises and holding long stretches, but it's well worth it. If you ignore it, it will gradually get worse and worse, resulting in chronic pain and poor mobility.
Stretching the sore muscles can help alleviate some pain and stiffness, but it won't fix the issue. We need to strengthen the elongated muscles and stretch their antagonists - both of which will help get the bones back into alignment. Going back to the rounded shoulders example - the muscles in-between the scapulars need to be strengthened by retracting them together and down the back. The muscles in the chest and fronts of the shoulders and neck need to be stretched.
There's lots of resources on various posture issues online, or let me know if you need some help - I'm located at Ourimbah on the NSW Central Coast, and I can also come to you.
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