Optimal anything starts with posture

Posted on September 10, 2009


posture skeletonIf there is one thing I have my mother to thank for, it is my basal need for myself and those around me to have perfect posture. I will never forget this music teacher mother of mine coming up behind me and pulling my shoulders back with the loving reminder, “no slouching!” What she instilled in me seemed normal to me until I became an adult in the health & fitness field who sees some truly awful posture on a daily basis. I guess every other mother was not as intent on perfecting their child’s posture as mine was…or if they were, it was forgotten somewhere after moving out of mom’s house.

Have you ever seen someone who’s ‘got it all together’ who has poor posture? Me neither. Our posture is what develops over time based on repeated actions or non-actions taken by the body. If your shoulders slump forward, or your head juts out and down from your neck, it does not give the same impression as a person who stands tall with their shoulders back & down. Ladies, some of your body image views would be served well by an improved strength in your posture. Guys, especially those of you lift weights NEED to improve your postural muscles if you want to avoid an injury & avoid looking like a gorilla with fallen forward shoulders & turned-in hands. Read on to learn a simple exercise to improve your posture right now!

The upper body can play host to a wealth of body imbalances that can lead to poor posture, neck/back/shoulder aches, limited range of motion, headaches, muscles spasms and tension, allergies, and many more issues that can limit the body’s ability to optimally function. One of the simplest ways to begin correcting and improving these functions is by training the body to hold proper shoulder blade (scapular) stabilization. This is also known as drawing the shoulder blades back and down, as if putting them into a pocket in your back.  

To shift your shoulder blades into proper alignment, begin first by sitting up straight with chest lifted up and out- it should feel like your chest is puffed up. Next, ensure your head is brought back and not jutting forward like a turtle- imagine a string was tied to the back of your skull and someone was pulling it back, almost as if you are giving yourself a double chin. Then take each shoulder blade and roll it up to your ear, then back behind you, then down. Once you have done that with both shoulders, try and engage your back muscles by pushing your shoulder blades down towards your back pants pockets. By now you should feel stuck in a potentially uncomfortable position. Rest assured that in time, you will begin to “lock and load” your shoulders more naturally, you will feel more comfortable in your improved posture, and will hold this position more often in your daily life and workouts. It takes practice though, so be aware of your posture, self correct when necessary, and in time you will start to find your shoulders naturally staying back and down.