If you look around you in any public place you’ll quickly notice that everyone slouches! It’s understandable given that all day long people are sitting at a computer, on a sofa, in a car, or hunched over their smartphones, but it is frustrating to see and directly affects each of our quality of life. I notice slouchers all the time, and it is a major discussion I have with every new client.
So aside from looking better, what does posture do for us? It actually has major impacts on your fitness and long-term quality of life.
Regarding fitness, proper posture allows you to exercise more effectively and safely, and to yield the best possible results. If you are doing any given strength exercise with proper posture, you are much more likely to be engaging the muscles you’re looking to engage, and much less likely to get injured. I’m sure we’ve all seen that guy at the gym hunching and throwing his lower back into every rep – it’s only a matter of time before that leads to a serious injury! Likewise, if you perform all your cardio workouts in a slouched or otherwise poorly aligned position you are asking for lower back or knee pain. As the hours of repetitive impact add up, even small deviations in your posture will lead to aggravation and wear and tear.
The long term health impacts of posture are also significant. After years and years of hunching, slouching, and slumping around your body will be strongly fixed in that position and much harder to straighten. Your height will decrease faster than it would otherwise from normal aging, your flexibility will be hindered, and you will more likely have some sort of joint pain(s). I have actually had several middle aged clients gain over an inch in height after working with me for a few months simply by correcting their posture and strengthening their core!
I am currently working on exercise program design that would work all the major muscles just like any well designed program, but at the same time would also work to improve posture through the choice of and emphasis on each exercise. More on that in the future!
Below is a great chart on the many deviations of posture I found on the Successful and Balanced Healthy Lifestyle blog, along with the correct posture of chest up, shoulders back, and core flat, and here is a good article from Wikihow on improving posture – give it a read! Watch yourself in the mirror closely the next time you’re getting ready and see where you stand – then fix it!