Let’s think about how much of your typical day is spent sitting down. You might commute about an hour to work and settle into your desk for a ten hour work day, then another hour to get back home, where you sit down for an average of 4 hours in front of the TV. Follow that up with 7 hours of sleep (if you’re lucky!)
When you consider that that only leaves one hour of the day when you’re not sitting or lying down, it’s no wonder that most of us have less than ideal posture and suffer back and neck pain.
Our postural muscles, like any other muscle in the body, need to be trained to be activated. We need to work them out, and this certainly doesn’t happen on its own if we spend most of the day sitting.
A mistake that many exercisers make is overworking their muscles. Below I have outlined some common postural issues and how you can improve your training approach to alleviate these problems. Please keep in mind that for persistent pain and poor posture a visit to a good Physiotherapist may be needed to get you back in order.
Winged scapula/Rounded shoulders
Many people love to kick off their week by hitting their chests hard on a Monday. They overwork their chests and develop a rounded shoulder look. Men are particularly guilty of this one as we love to have big muscular chests! People often try to strengthen muscles when what they really need to be doing to improve their posture is to loosen their muscles by working on flexibility. Consider stretching your chest muscles and strengthening the upper back and posterior (rear) shoulder muscles instead.
This postural problem is characterised by weak upper traps and rhomboids and overactive lats. It’s a big problem because it can inhibit respiration. Steps you can take to help are reducing lat exercises, such as lat pulldowns, chin ups, swimming and rowing. Increase shoulder exercises such as shoulder press, upright row, reverse flys and TRX T rows.
If you are experiencing pain, you must see a physician. Train around the area in pain, don’t attempt to treat it. People who suffer from lumbar lordosis often have lengthened hamstrings and abs which require stretching. They also need to stretch their tight hip flexors.
Sway back/Flat back
This is the “no bum” look and is caused by the pelvis tilting backwards, lengthend back muscles and shortened chest muscles. To cure this problem, you need to strengthen your back and stretch your chest. If action is taken, movement can be greatly improved.
In short, make sure you keep your training functional, and keep moving around during your day to help keep you upright!