What is your posture doing to you?

Posture and Movement

Posture. It’s involved in everything you do- sitting, standing, moving, and exercising. From toe to head, your body is all linked together. And, when one of those links aren’t in perfect alignment, it can throw everything off. This is especially important if you want to lead an active lifestyle, pain and injury free. When thinking about posture, we need to consider joints at the foot & ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, and upper spine. When everything stacks up and moves right, you get more from your workouts and reduce your risk for pain and injury.

Overall Posture

Most times when people think of posture, they just think of the upper back slouching. It’s more than just that and gets worse over time. Technology advancements and typical work settings force you to sit for extended periods of time. But, our bodies don’t want to do that. Whether you’re sitting at a desk, in the car, on a bike, or at dinner, your alignment’s going to suffer for it. Furthermore, society is stuck on finding ways to be sedentary. You can get groceries delivered curbside and people fight to get a closer parking spot to the gym. Mobile devices allow us to have everything at our finger tips and our movement quality pays the price.

Let’s get specific on posture. You need to think about the main segments, so it makes sense to start with the feet and move up. This is because your feet and ankles are the basis for your support. So, if things are misaligned there, it can cause problems higher up in your body. Think about the concept of the game Jenga. When you remove one of the blocks, forces, and weight shift into other areas. Sometimes it’s strong enough to support the standing position (although altered) and sometimes it comes crashing down. Our bodies are the same way.

Poor posture can develop from muscle imbalances caused by everyday living. Click here for a great article if you want to read more about muscle imbalances, how they happen, and what’s going on with them.

Good Posture Alignment

It should look like this:

1.       Feet point straight ahead as if you were standing in a pair of skis. Typically, you want your second and third toe to be in the same line as your shin (tibia).

2.       Knees face straight ahead (even after you straighten your feet out) without discomfort. They shouldn’t turn in our out.

3.       Back neutral- this means your hips don’t tilt forward or back. We’ll talk more about how to tell if you’re standing with your hips neutral later on.

4.       Shoulders also neutral and not rounding forward.

5.       Head right on top of your shoulders. It shouldn’t tilt up or protrude forward.

Risks Associated with Poor Alignment

Poor posture and muscle imbalances can create common pain and injury symptoms. Once you know more about how to keep good alignment during activity, your general exercise technique will also improve. This is a good thing and will reinforce creating better alignment.

Foot & ankle potential risks

When the feet turn out, it can cause problems directly at the site. More importantly, it can cause issues further up the body. If the feet turn out when you stand, walk, or squat, here are some things that could happen:

·       Knee pain

·       Increased chance for sprained ankle

·       Lower back pain

·       Flattened feet (and the associated pain)

·       Not getting the most out of your workouts when targeting glutes

Knee potential risks

When running or squatting, it’s common to see people’s knees move inward. Sometimes they even cave in uncontrollably. Again, this is typically the result of a muscle imbalance. But this time the imbalance is usually at the hip- your inner thigh and outer glutes. Here are some risks this poses:

·       ACL or meniscus damage

·       Lower back pain

·       Hamstring strains

·       Groin or inner thigh strain

·       Not getting the most out of your workouts when targeting glutes

Low back potential risks

It’s common for people to have an excessive arch in their lower back. This happens when the top of the hips tilt forward. Stand with your heels against a wall and see if you can slide your hand between your lower back and the wall. If you can, then you back arches too much. If you can’t get any part of your hand through, then your back is rounding. Both are problematic in their own way and you are at risk for:

·       General and ongoing low back pain.

·       Acute back spasms. 

·       Shoulder pain. 

·       Increased risk for hamstring strain.

·       Sciatic nerve issues (piriformis syndrome).

·       Painful IT band.

Shoulder girdle potential risks

You can check this one out by standing against the wall again. Pay attention to the position of your palms when your arms are relaxed. If they face your sides or the wall, then you have shoulder girdle muscle imbalances. If this happens, here are some of the things you might be experiencing:

·       Front shoulder pain

·       Lower back pain (from the weight pulling you forward or tight lats)

·       Tension and knots in the middle of your back

·       Difficulty taking in deep breaths

Upper back and neck potential risks

With so much time spent reading, our heads tend to crane forward. As your head moves forward, you start to create muscle imbalances in the upper neck. These are common with people and can cause:

·       Headaches randomly

·       Headaches after doing cardio or working out hard

·       Neck pain (front, side, back)

·       Front of shoulder pain

·       Tension and knots in the middle and upper portion of your back

Don’t underestimate the importance of standing or moving right. It’s the difference between being sore in the right places instead of the wrong. Good posture will also improve your exercise technique. For example, squat and lunge technique is critical to get the results you want. Yet, so many people do them incorrectly. Check out this article to make sure your lunge form is on point. The best place to start in improving your posture starts with removing muscle knots (adhesions). Upper body tension can be relieved by self applying pressure to sensitive areas. This tool is like a massage you can perform on yourself and works wonders for neck and upper back tension.

Let us know where poor posture is impacting you the most so we can provide some great programs for you to follow, all with the intention of helping you move and feel better.

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