How To Improve Your Posture & Correct 4 Common Imbalances
We can all more or less identify “good” or “bad” posture if we see someone slouching in their chair or walking hunched over. But what about knowing what good posture feels like for ourselves? This is the key, because we’re not looking at ourselves from the outside. It’s definitely the case that a lot of us have absolutely no clue that we have bad posture. It feels so familiar that we don’t even think about it.
But if you’re one to regularly complain of muscle aches and pains, we challenge you to start thinking about how to improve your posture so that good posture becomes your new “normal”. Proper posture conveys confidence, poise, assertiveness – but, most importantly, it helps our bodies function properly!
Benefits of good posture
- Keeps bones & joints in alignment leading to proper muscle recruitment
- Decreases wear and tear on the joint surfaces which could lead to ailments such as arthritis
- Decreases stress on the spine
- Ensures that the spine is not being fixed in abnormal positions
- Prevents backache and other muscle pains
- Prevents fatigue because the muscles are actually firing efficiently and when needed
- Good posture looks good! (1)
Good posture while standing
In order to assess your posture properly, we highly suggest taking pictures of yourself (front, side, and back) and comparing them to what you see below. Be sure that you’re wearing tight clothing so you can actually identify the areas you need to improve.
In proper standing posture, the joints are stacked on top of each other and the spine is neutral. Ears are in line with shoulders, shoulders are in line with the hips and hips are in line with the ankles: check, check, check?
4 Common postural imbalances
1. Hips pushed forward
This is a sign of an overactive posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings & lower back) and underactive hip flexors and lower abs.
2. Lower crossed syndrome (excessive lower back arch)
This is an indicator of overactive hip flexors and lower back and underactive glute muscles as well as abs. This could be due to wearing high heels or lifted dress shoes on a regular basis.
3. Rounded shoulders (shoulders round in front of ears)
This is due to overactive chest muscles and underactive back muscles, specifically in the upper back muscles surrounding the shoulder blades.
Stretching exercises: standing wall pectoral stretch, the forward hang (or modification for front of shoulders)
Strengthening exercises: seated cable row, resistance band back fly, rear delt cable rope pull
4. Upper crossed syndrome (“hunched” back)
This is also due to overactive chest muscles and underactive back muscles, specifically in the upper back muscles surrounding the shoulder blades. However, this excessive “hunch” comes from overactive muscles in the front of the neck and underactive muscles in the back of the neck.
Stretching exercises: standing wall pectoral stretch, the forward hang (or modification for front of shoulders), chin to chest, foam rolling the neck
Strengthening exercises: seated cable row, resistance band back fly, rear delt rope pull
It must be noted that these are not all of the postural distortions you could be experiencing, but these ones are quite common. Visiting a physical therapist or chiropractor could help you further identify and correct any others that are specific to you.