Posture is the way in which we involve and hold our bodies in the things we do – how we stand, sit, rest or move about. The way we carry ourselves determines how aligned our bodies are, which muscles are involved to which degree and in what combination.
Efficient functioning of the body, better known as good posture, requires a state of balance and tone in the body in both the resting position and in motion, with the maximum freedom combined with stability.
If balance is not maintained, some muscle groups work harder, leading to increased tone and fatigue, while others are continually stretched and have decreased tone. The muscles themselves become painful and extra strain is placed on the joints, ligaments, tendons and neural tissues. Constant strain on these structures may lead to irritation, inflammation, degeneration and injury.
Assessing your posture
Complete the following test to see how good your posture is:
- Stand with your back against a wall with your heels, buttocks and back against the wall. If you have good postural alignment then your head and shoulders and buttocks will touch the wall, your palms will be facing your thighs and your little fingers will be touching the wall. If you have to consciously think about moving any part of your body to align with the wall, then this will be an area that we will need to work on.
- Now slide one hand behind you low back. The thickest part of your hand should get caught between your spine and the wall. If your curvature is reduced, your hand will get caught before the thick part can make it between the wall and your back and you should use a lumbar support during abdominal exercises. If your hand slides right through, you’re likely to have excessive low back curvature and should place emphasis on lower abdominal exercises. How long can you hold this position for? Does this position cause pain, discomfort or fatigue?
Let’s look now at your abdominal strength & endurance...
Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and your lower back in contact with the floor. Focus on pulling your belly button in towards your spine and hold for as long as you can (imagine that you are pulling your abdomen in to fit into a very tight pair of jeans). Can you pull in and still maintain your breathing? Does the exercise require a lot of effort? Does the exercise create trembling in your abdomen?
If you struggled with any of the above then you may have problems with your postural alignment or core strength and stability and may require a corrective exercise programme.
Corrective exercise for postural problems
Corrective exercise is based on individual needs, and prescribed to improve physical function and health. Many common problems such as low back pain, knee, hip neck tension and headaches are the result of poor postural alignment.
Poor joint health and degradation of discs and joints are not inevitable as we age if we have correct postural alignment and learn to move our joints and bodies in the way that they were designed. Postural correction is therefore paramount in the reduction of pain, improved aesthetics, optimum well-being and daily function in the body and mind.
A corrective exercise programme will be a combination of flexibility exercise (to restore flexibility to tight muscles, which will in turn improve mobility), strength training to increase core and extremity strength. Movement pattern training to show you how to optimally use your joints, recover and prevent injury.
I am still blown away by your attention to detail on form and posture.
You wouldn't believe what a relief it is to finally be shown the correct way to perform exercises, and correct all the bad habits I’ve developed over the years. I feel that I’ve now made a real breakthrough in my training. Thanks again.
Personal training with Lisa has made such a difference to my fitness regime.
She has helped me to develop a realistic and workable routine which has shown great results. I would thoroughly recommend one to one training, as her level of knowledge of biomechanics and posture are amazing.
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