Proper posture helps our body move efficiently without putting it under unneeded stress and strain that can lead to injury. Additionally, it makes you look and feel more confident and helps you breathe and digest easier; because proper alignment of the body allows the organs to function as intended. Whether we are sitting, texting, or even working out; our daily habits and rituals can have a huge impact on our posture. This article will give an overview of common things we are doing that take their toll on our posture, and a few exercises and stretches that can be performed to get you standing taller in no time.
If you sit at a desk in front of a computer all day or sit in the car to grind through a daily commute, you may be impacting your posture. When the body is in a constant seated position a couple of things are happening. The hips flexors shorten (tighten up) and the hip extensors (hamstrings and glutes) weaken and elongate. This pull also effects the core muscles and adds stress to the lower back. These shifts in the body can contribute to an anterior pelvic tilt. Anterior pelvic tilt occurs when the front of the pelvis is lower than the back of the pelvis, which causes the rear to stick out and the lower back to arch excessively.
In order to fix the alignment of your hips and achieve a more neutral position with the pelvis, standing desks or standing breaks should be incorporated where possible. Corrective exercises should focus on stretching the hip flexors and lower back in addition to strengthening the glutes and core.
- Stretches: kneeling hip flexor stretch or Child’s Pose
- Strength exercises: squats, bridges, and planks
Walk by a crowd of people standing in line or waiting at a bus stop, and you will likely see the same picture – people hunched forward with rounded shoulders staring into their phones. If you go into a gym, you may be able to spot the guy who hits chest and biceps every day, because he will likely be in this same hunched over position. This “hunchback” posture is depicted by an excessive curvature (kyphosis) of the upper back (thoracic spine). The shoulders round forward, chest muscles tighten, and the upper back muscles weaken. To avoid this posture, stretches and corrective exercises should focus on relieving chest tightness and strengthening the upper back muscles.
- Stretches: door frame chest stretch and foam rolling for the mid and upper back
- Strength Exercises: prone back extension, band pull-aparts, and arm wall slides
As this article highlights, daily habits and rituals can have a negative impact on our posture. When we are conscious of these habits and incorporate stretches and strength exercises to combat the negative behaviors, we can get our bodies to stand taller and move more efficiently with ease.
Bowman, Blake. (2015). Posture: The Ultimate Life Hack. Retrieved from https://guerrillazen.com/
Leonard, Jayne. (2017, May 11). Six fixes for anterior pelvic tilt. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317379.php
Perry, Marc. (2018, October 26). 5 Most Common Posture Problems (& How to Fix Them). Retrieved from https://www.builtlean.com/2011/11/28/posture-problems/
Thompson, Nicole. (2019, January 25.) Identifying and Working with Common Postural Deviations. Retrieved from https://www.acefitness.org/fitness-certifications/resource-center/exam-preparation-blog/2909/identifying-and-working-with-common-postural-deviations
About the author:
Lyja is a Bay Area native and a graduate of the University of California at Santa Cruz. She is a certified AFAA Group Exercise Instructor (since 2003) and ACE Personal Trainer (since 2006). Lyja first joined BaySport in 2002 as a Group Exercise Instructor. In 2014, she became the Group Exercise Coordinator. Lyja continues to serve as the Group Exercise Coordinator in addition to managing the fitness center of a BaySport’s corporate fitness client in the San Francisco Bay Area.