“I want to improve my posture” is probably in the top 5 training goals for most trainees after losing fat, getting fit and in shape. Poor posture is a modern day epidemic with so called ‘text neck’ (forward head posture) being probably the most prominent these days with all the use of technology and sedentary lifestyle. Research shows that kids over the age of 10 demonstrate spinal degeneration on x-ray that have been linked to migraines, high blood pressure, and decreased lung capacity (less oxygen to your body). The bad news is that if poor posture is left unattended it will become permanent and for many it will be the time of many medical issues affecting their quality of life. The good news is we all can prevent it.
So what can you do to improve your posture apart of simple postural awareness during different day to day tasks and correcting bad habits (sitting at a desk, driving etc.), or taking a posture break to remind your body its appropriate alignment (every 30 min for at least 30 s), or using chiropractic services? The answer is preventative strength training.
In a nutshell, poor posture is simply the result of intramuscular tension imbalance. In other words every day stresses and strains such as physical work, sports and simply the way we use our body will all have often one sided impact on our muscles. When one muscle is used more than antagonist muscle (example abdominal vs lower back) a change in the strength of one will have a knock on effect on the other. This muscular strength imbalance is a very gradual process and at first we simply do not notice it. Although perfect muscular balance might never be totally possible due to many long term life habits, it is worth noting that proper strength training will improve your posture like nothing else and most certainly prevent serious consequences.
Let’s face it, your muscles determine your posture. For instance strong abdominal and back muscles keep you upright, stabilize your spine and joints and protect them from excess strain and wear. This reduces the risk of musculoskeletal disorders such as back or neck pain, inhibited mobility, slipped discs, arthritis, nerve irritation or inflammation.
It is very important to always carefully select the right exercises for an individual needs depending upon existing medical issues, current strength/fitness level and goals. Although overall daily activity and movement are important, in most cases they do not significantly strengthen up muscles that otherwise can be targeted with proper strength training.