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Posture

Posture affects every movement you perform by influencing how well muscles leverage their ability to create movement in a coordinated and efficient manner. Your posture also determines how loads are diffused throughout your body and what joints will bear the burden of support. Practicing balanced posture during your workouts will make your exercises more efficient, target the right muscles, reinforce proper movement, and reduce injuries.

Strength and Balance Work Together for Better Posture

Maintaining efficient posture has two aspects: Being able to find a balanced posture. Once there, then your muscles need the appropriate length and strength to be able to maintain that posture.

Finding Correct Posture

Here is how to find a balanced posture: Sit down on your favorite workout bench or a dinning room chair. Sit up, square your hips, keep your knees over your ankles and turn your feet out slightly. This provides stability to your lower body.

Low back posture, called neutral spine, is found by arching your back, that is, stick your belly out. Come back out of that arch a little. When your low back just begins to feel comfortable and still somewhat arched you have found neutral spine.

For your shoulders and upper back, drop your arms beside you, turn your arms out until you feel tension between your shoulder blades, hold that shoulder position and let our arms relax. At this point, you may notice that your chest is out, also.

Finally, neutral spine for the neck is found by keeping your eyes level while drawing your chin back as far as you can. Relax a little until you just begin to feel comfortable, keep your head level. You’ve got it!

There you have it: Sit up, knees and feet turned out a little, slight low back arch, your shoulder blades back and down (chest out), and your chin tucked slightly back with your head level. You should be able to find this posture with all of your exercises.

Muscles Maintain Posture

Feels weird, doesn’t it? That’s because some muscles need to become longer, like those in the front of your chest, back of your neck, and thighs. You also need to strengthen some muscles, like those deep in your neck, between your shoulder blades, and in your low back and hips.

Here is the trick: Include the postural muscles more, focus on maintaining good posture in every part of your workouts. Keep your chin tucked back a little, work your mid back more, and spend thirty percent more effort working your low back (back extension) than your abs (back flexion). Stretch the front of your chest and your legs, especially, hamstrings, quads, and psoas.

As you improve your flexibility, strength and begin to get used to good posture it becomes more second nature. When you catch yourself slouching, you know you're starting to get it.

Posture Affects Injuries

As you loose balanced posture, parts of your body can suffer overloaded such as: your low neck when your head moves forward, your upper back and shoulders when your shoulders roll forward, the discs in your lower back with slouching, and your knees when you lift pushing with your toes instead of your heels.

Inefficient posture during exercise reduces joint stability and overloads the muscles and tendons that compensate for this instability.  Over time the joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons begin to degenerate as a response to these increased loads resulting in stiffness or pain, inflammation. Eventually the tissues breakdown. 

Practice, Practice, and More Practice

Practicing efficient posture during your workouts will make the exercise more efficient, target the right muscles, reinforce proper movement, and reduce injuries.