With the advent of modern technology came what’s popularly known as “the desk job,” which can be described as sitting in front of a computer for 8 or more hours a day. Not only did this advancement lead to a decrease in overall movement for the average American worker, it also led to an increase in postural issues.
Poor posture results in small aches and pains over time and can contribute to bigger issues such as decreased range of motion and poor movement patterns that can lead to injury over time.
There is not a quick-fix solution as postural issues take many years to develop. But, by incorporating proper exercises into your training that support the mechanisms that lead to better posture overtime, there is hope of moving in the direction of decreasing pain and adopting better mechanics.
Click the link below to learn about the 4 most effective ways someone can improve their posture. Below are the 4 most common ways someone can go about improving postural issues.
Increase Pulling Exercise
Poor posture, in its simplest form, can be caused, among other things, by tight anterior (front) shoulders paired with weaker muscles along the posterior chain. In other words, the front of the shoulders are strong and tight whereas the muscles along the upper back are weak. By decreasing horizontal pushing movements that can strengthen the anterior part of the shoulder (deltoid, subscapularis, pectoralis) and increasing horizontal pulling exercises to instead strengthen the posterior shoulder and thoracic musculature (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, latissimus dorsi, teres major, etc.), not only will you see a decrease in shoulder pain, but over longer periods of time you will begin to see postural improvements in the simplest form.
The Passive Hang
There are many benefits that come with incorporating passive hanging into your training. These include the ability to use gravity to create spinal decompression, and improvement of shoulder stability and health—both important components of adequate posture and decreased shoulder pain. By hanging passively (without tension) on a straight bar or rings, your shoulders will be able to relax into a new end range as well as strengthen the end ranges you may already have. Doing this consistently improves the mobility and strength of your shoulder in the lats and sub-scapular girdles, which is not only important for performance, but will also aid in the journey of improving posture and eliminating pain. For beginners we recommend starting with a few sets of 10-30 seconds and building volume slowly over time, working up to a single hang of 2 minutes.
Soft Tissue Work
The benefits of soft tissue work as it relates to improving posture and upper body mechanics aim to alleviate stress and tension that builds up throughout the day. The act of sitting for prolonged periods of time can cause your shoulders to roll forward, tightening the muscles of the chest and deltoids. By applying soft tissue work gently to these areas, you can overcome many of the negative effects that result in prolonged sitting.
Intention Outside of the Gym
Individualizing your training to support adequate movement patterns is only a small piece of the puzzle. It is the intention outside of the gym that will have the biggest impact on postural improvement. Restoring the nervous system through proper breathing mechanisms and optimizing recovery, improving sleep quality, and increasing low-level movement throughout the day are just a few examples. More simply, by focusing on your posture throughout the day, as well as staying conscious of your gaze (with your head level, facing forward) while at your desk or walking around the office can have substantial benefits in strengthening the adequate muscles necessary to continually improve posture and decrease nagging shoulder pain. When you’re sitting, roll the shoulders back to engage the muscles of your upper back that support the stability of your scapula, sit upright and look forward. Don’t underestimate the simple things, as those are more often the most effective!
There are many factors that lead to poor posture and in order to truly understand the mechanisms behind them, it is important to have a thorough assessment done to ensure the exercises and protocols are individualized to you and your unique situation.
If you are struggling to find purpose behind your training or are looking for more guidance in a program that supports your life outside of the gym—by providing an holistic approach to health and fitness—click the link below to schedule a free strategy session with a Central Athlete coach. Your hard work should pay off and we are here to ensure that it does!