Who wouldn’t love to have better posture?

photo courtesy of picsdigger.com

A lot of the clients that I get to work with on a daily basis (both athletes and adults) all start with the same obstructions- bad posture, incorrect form, and lack of kinesthetic awareness.  In my opinion, these problems are a big deal, and I truly believe a lot of trainers let them slide way too often.  There are a number of directions I could go with a post like this, but I am going to focus on one area for now: posture.

Our posture is affected by our daily habitual movements.  For instance, it is common for people with desk jobs to have upper-cross syndrome (rounded shoulders), students whom carry backpacks on one shoulder tend to show greater development on that side, and dancers typically stand with their feet externally rotated.  On the flip side, correct posture is a direct result of a body in balance.  So what does this mean for you?  Good question…

Let’s use upper-cross syndrome as an example.  Many people who work out, and especially those who don’t, use the bench press as the staple of strength testing.  I’m sure you’ve all heard the question, “How much can you bench??”  So you’re sitting at your desk all day itching to get under the bar and bench away, because hey, it’ll make you stronger- right?  Sorry, but I’m probably about to upset you.  This is actually one of the worst things that you could do (within reason).  Had you fully realized that your daily habits were actually causing you to slouch, you wouldn’t purposely do anything to amplify that, right?  Well you were just about to! 

Upper-cross syndrome is really just overactive (tightened, shortened) muscles anterior to the shoulders and underactive (elongated, weak) muscles posterior to the shoulders- for the most part.  So by dropping under that bar and benching until the cows come home, you are really just adding to your already bad posture.  What you really need is inhibition of the overactive muscles, strengthening of the underactive muscles, and integrating this all into your daily habits to have a lasting change on your posture.  Whew, this exercise stuff sure can be confusing, right?!  Not really.  We just need to be smart when we train!

So before you run out and try your favorite fitness magazine’s new workout, ask yourself, “is this workout right for me?”  And if you have any doubts, just shoot us an email and we’ll do the thinking for you…

Take care.

- Chris

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Chris Merritt

Strength Coach/ B.S. Kinesiology, Pennsylvania State University/ FMS/ Functional Range Conditioning Mobility Specialist/ Certified Kettlebell Instructor/ Owner of Beyond Strength Performance and Beyond Strength Performance NOVA

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