Improving Posture with Exercise Takes a Targeted Approach
So let’s take a quick look at good posture and compare it to some of the most commonly seen postures that can cause pain or injury.
- 5 Points line up: Ankle, knee, hip, shoulders, and head
- Neutral spine
- Shoulders down and back
- Evenly distributed weight
- Optimal relative muscle lengths, optimal resting joint positions
Bad Posture Examples
Bad Posture Examples:
Pictures 1-3 from NASM-CES
- Overly flexed lumbar spine
- Overly extended lower thoracic spine, over curved upper thoracic spine
- Weak hip flexors
- Strong/Tight hamstrings
Picture 4 from Kendall (2005)
Trying to figure out what lumbar/pelvic posture you have is tricky without the help of a health or fitness professional. Even then, many get it wrong. It is important to properly get assessed in order to design the right exercise program that will improve your posture.
- Upper back muscles (rhomboids, mid/lower traps)
- Deep neck flexors
- External rotator cuff muscles
- Intrinsic core musculature
- Abdominals and hamstrings in lordosis
- Hip flexors and low back muscles in flat back posture
Getting to Know Good Posture
With a good upright sitting or standing posture, look straight forward and pull your chin directly back
Simply pull your belly button in while in a good tall posture.
Many have excess anterior tilt, some are neutral, some have excess posterior tilt. Place your hands on your hips and find a neutral tilt by pushing more with your thumbs or forefinger. Finding neutral pelvic tilt can vary in difficulty depending on the person and their posture. The guidance of a professional is usually needed.
With a good, tall standing posture pull your shoulder blades together while bringing your arms back at the same time. Be sure to keep your shoulders down and back the entire time. Also, keep your abs tight as there should be no extraneous movements in the spine.
Beginner Strength Workout for Posture
Workout, Circuit 1 - 2 sets of 15-20 reps. Equipment needed: dumbbells
Tricep Extensions in bent over position
Workout, Circuit 2 - 2 sets of 15-20 reps. Equipment needed: dumbbells
Exeternal Rotator Cuff
1)Clark, Lucett. 2011. NASM’s Essentials of Corrective Exercise Training. Philadelphia, PA. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
2)Kendall, McCreary, Provance, Rodgers, Romani. 2005. Muscles, Testing and Function with Posture and Pain, 5th Edition. Baltimore, MD, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. pp. 58-70.
3)McGill. 2007. Low Back Disorders: Evidence-Based Prevention and Rehabilitation, Second Edition. Champaign, IL. Human Kinetics.