Does postural training really work? Yes, it does! Find out how and why it is so effective.
A good straight posture is rarely seen these days. Most of us tend to slouch, bend our necks forward and round out shoulders – the typical prawn posture. Who’s not guilty of lounging for hours on the sofa watching a TV series or scrolling on the smartphone?
Lower back pain is increasingly common, affecting up to 80% of our population at some point in their life. Mums of young children seem to be particularly affected.
Although bad posture may be due to an injury, disease or genetic factors that we can’t control, most often occurs as a result of our poor daily habits and lack of core strength.
Unfortunately, our modern lifestyle and long hours spent sitting in front of the screen don’t help our posture. Also pregnancy, breastfeeding, carrying your baby or pushing the pram only reinforce the bad habits and create further muscular imbalances.
The good news is habitual bad posture can be corrected or improved by a series of simple, yet very effective exercises.
You don't stand up straight just because you want to
You don’t stand up straight because you just remember about it.
Nobody can remember about it all the time, yet there are people who always maintain a good posture and people who can’t do it regardless of how hard they try.
WHAT CAUSES BAD POSTURE?
Except for medical and trauma factors, which we cannot control, the most common reason for a bad posture is a muscular imbalance. The rules are simple:
1) The harder the muscles work, the shorter they become.
2) The more the muscles stretch (or weaken because unused), the longer they become.
There are many postural deviations and many underlying causes , but I will focus below only on the two I see frequently in my clients.
Hopefully you’ll get the picture of what happens to your body if you repeatedly engage in certain movements and postures.
EXAMPLE 1: EXCESSIVE LORDOSIS
On the other hand your glutes and hamstrings, the muscles that form your butt and the back of your thighs, become elongated.
The front of your legs pulls too much, while the back of your legs become too long and so the imbalance begins.
This muscular imbalance creates excessive arching in your lower back and can contribute to lower back pain.
How do you fix it?
EXAMPLE 2: ROUNDED SHOULDERS
The harder they work, the shorter they become and the more they pull your shoulders forward.
On the other hand, the muscles of your upper back become over-stretched and elongate.
The more you round your shoulders, the longer and weaker the muscles between your shoulder blades become.
Now, if you have SHORT tight muscles pulling in the front of your chest and LONG weak muscles on the back, the net effect are rounded shoulders.
How can it be fixed?
THE FIX: RESTORE THE BALANCE
The fix is simple. If the muscular imbalance is forcing you to assume a bad posture, you need to restore the balance.
YOU NEED TO PHYSICALLY CHANGE THE LENGTH OF YOUR MUSCLES.
You don’t want to pull your shoulders back to stand up straight. You want to shorten the muscles between your shoulder blades such that THEY pull your shoulders back. Equally you want to elongate the chest muscles to allow that pull.
The same applies to any other muscle imbalance within your body.
1. Strengthen (shorten) the muscles that are weak and overstretched
2. Stretch (elongate) the muscles that are overworked and shortened
3. Improve core stability as your foundation to maintain good posture.
You can improve a bad posture caused by bad habits by engaging in a simple postural training routine: strength training + core stability training + stretching of key muscle groups. The exercises are suitable for beginners and can even be done at home.
All you need is determination and perseverance, because it takes two to three months to see the results.
But oh my, isn’t a good posture worth it? 😉
TRY IT YOURSELF AT HOME
- Check out my postural training routine for rounded shoulders.
- Try out this simple core exercise routine if you struggle with lower back pain.