Posture for Success
Remember when you were a kid, and it seemed like your mother was always complaining about how bad your posture was? Well, I'm here to tell you that as much as we don't want to admit it, all those moms were right! I have written some posts before about how to work on posture but now I will go over how posture is one of the biggest ways to prevent injury.
When you think about what posture entails, it is kind of easy to realize how it is so important to prevent injury. One's posture refers to how the body is aligned, whether it be poor or good. Proper alignment should be the goal of any person that is exercising because it has a direct correlation with longevity and overall health. The three main portions of posture covered here will be, the hips, spine, and shoulder
1. The Hips:
When you hear people refer to the hips, the pelvis is always the main focus, but why? As you can see, there is a lot going on with the pelvis, but in relation to posture, we are going to focus on the iliac crests. When it comes to posture, the main things that we see in the pelvis are an anterior pelvic tilt and posterior pelvic tilt. An anterior pelvic tilt is when the iliac crest is tipped anteriorly (forward) and the posterior pelvic tilt is when the iliac crest is tipped posteriorly. When looking at both of these tilts, you might have noticed that you see an anterior pelvic tilt much more often than a posterior. This anterior tilt is caused a myriad of tight muscles both on the anterior portion of the hip and also in the back. This particular tilt of the pelvis creates a condition called lordosis, which can be personified in the stereotypical Instagram model that is rounding her lower back to make her butt look bigger, or the stereotypical bro that is walking around sticking his chest out to look huge. On the other end of the spectrum is a posterior pelvic tilt, that often leads to excessive kyphosis, think of your average person sitting at their desk typing (AKA the hunchback of Notre Dame). The posterior pelvic tilt is caused primarily by weak hip flexor muscles paired with overactive or tight glutes, causing the butt to tuck under the midline. Now that we understand what these tilts look like, think about someone doing a deadlift with either of those conditions. Pretty easy to see why their lower back gets hurt right? All of this information about the hips is extremely important but is only one piece of the puzzle, now we must learn how the spine plays into this equation.
2. The Spine
Thankfully when it comes to the spine, no matter how much of an understanding of anatomy you have, the spine is pretty obvious. We all know that it is the "backbone" to our skeleton that houses our spinal cord. Something that is less understood is how important the spine really is. Our spine runs from our pelvis all the way up the skull, and inside of it is our spinal cord that runs from the pelvis all the way up to the brain stem. It is no wonder why when someone gets in some sort of accident where they're spine is severed, they often become paralyzed. Our spine should always be our number one priority because it is directly correlated with function, for the whole body. The human body has one major job, and that is to protect oneself. All of the incredible normal functions of your body are there to ensure survival, thankfully of course. A very common injury is when doing some sort of exercise, the back just locks up (during a clean, deadlift, squat, etc). This is a sign that the body detected a potential threat to the spine so it signaled all of the lower back muscles to lock it down, to ensure survival. The number one way to keep the spine safe is to keep a neutral pelvis (no tilt) combined with a neutral spine (no rounding). Just like with the hips, you can imagine the danger is any sort of lifting with a rounded spine. For the most part, people understand the concept of not rounding their spine when lifting, but often times they forget that the neck is still the spine. Excessively rounding your neck in a lift can lead to decreased force production for the same reason I said that the lower back muscles just lock up, OUR BODY DOESN"T LIKE IT! Try this test if you don't believe me! Last but not least is the role that the shoulders play in perfecting posture and staying injury free!
3. The shoulders
This is the last piece of the puzzle that we will put together when it comes to achieving correct posture, ad thankfully it is the easiest to understand and practice! For the most part, everyone also understands that excessively rolling their shoulders forward is not an ideal or good thing, but it is mostly due to just laziness. We all have about 16 hours a day to practice this so make it a normal thing. When it comes to adding the shoulders into the perfect posture you can focus on two different things, down and back. When you bring your shoulders down it is called depression of the shoulder girdle (fancy word for shoulder blades) and when you bring your shoulders back it is called retraction (squeezing shoulder blades). For the most part shoulder dysfunction, whether it be a poor overhead position or just pain, can be eradicated just by focusing on keeping the correct positions. Now how do we add this all together? Check out this video going over the final product!
I hope that this article explained a little more in detail the need for better posture when it comes to preventing and rehabbing an injury. It all rises and falls based on posture and how you prioritize it. If you are serious about your health and fitness then this must become second nature to you. just like it takes time and practice to get good at lifting, it also takes time and practice to get good posture!