Let’s face it – life happens in front of us. Literally.
We walk forward, reach for objects in front of us, like the steering wheel while driving or a keyboard while typing, and interact with people face to face. There’s no question that the majority of everyday movement is geared toward the muscles on the front side of our body. It’s a silent killer to the development of the oh-so-important muscles on the rear side of our body. Bad posture can take the body’s skeletal structure out of alignment, which can lead to chronic pain or more serious conditions like herniated discs or osteoporosis.
Working out in the gym can worsen bad posture because people tend to focus their training on what they can see in the mirror. I can’t even count how many guys I see hit the dumbbell rack at the gym to crush an arm, shoulder or chest workout. The results are the slouched stance, forward shoulders and possible chronic pain in the back, neck and shoulders common to many people we know.
Luckily, I’m here to shed some light on the fix.
Poor posture is usually a combination of tightness of some muscles and weakness of others. Being able to stand tall should come naturally, and when your front muscles get too tight and restrictive, your posterior muscles can’t do the job they’re designed to do. With that said, the first step would be to improve your mobility. Use the following two drills to help “open you up,” so to speak, and improve flexibility and freedom of movement in your shoulder area.
Find a wall and put your back against it. Make your heels touch the wall too. There can be bit of space under your back. Raise the arms and make sure your elbows, wrists and fingers all touch the wall. Slide your hands all the way up and down the wall without losing any points of contact. If you can’t do this, step 6 inches away from the wall with your feet, and try again. Focus on sets of 15-20 slides. It’s a bit more challenging than it looks.
Don’t worry, it’s not as painful as it sounds. Find a broomstick or dowel and hold it at arm’s length with a wide overhand grip. Maintaining straight elbows, perform a full revolution to the rear side of your body, and then return the same way you started.
These exercises will help open up the tight anterior muscles, such as the chest, and give your back the chance to contribute to good posture once again. In the gym, complement these workouts through resistance training for the upper back. Smart exercise choices to help improve posture would be:
• Seated rows
• Lat pull-downs
• Reverse flies
• Prone supermans
• Overhead press
It won’t happen overnight, but a consistent effort and dedication can help you improve your posture and feel healthier in the process.
Thank me later!
Photo credits: Getty Creative