Monday, 14 December 2009

How is your posture holding up?

I would say that every person/client I come across has a defect with their posture. I now assume that every new person that I work with will have a problem with his or her posture; it is just a matter of how much is wrong with it. I look at posture as not only being the make up of the spinal area, but also how a persons arms hang, their neck and head position and their foot position.

I undertake a magnitude of different tests to get a picture of what is wrong with the person’s structure. Tests I use differ from simply looking at the person while standing and how they walk to such tests as dynamic exercises like reverse lunges with overhead reach and squats to static tests such as the Thomas test.

These simple tests help me assess the posture of my clients and allow me to see what needs to be done to help correct their situation. If they have little or no defect to their posture, then I will continue to help strengthen up their postural muscles and posterior chain as well as help them achieve their goal e.g. fat loss, improved strength, sports specific.

Being less active and leading a more sedentary lifestyle I have found to be a fast track to incorrect posture. When I ask what people do for jobs, the majority of them either are stuck behind a desk all day or stuck behind a wheel of a car all day. They then get home and sit in non-supportive chairs and watch television, read, or go on the computer.

This can lead to many changes in the posture of the people I see. The most common sights I see when working with new clients are:

• Forward tilt in the shoulders

• Internal rotation of the arm

• Rounding of the upper (thoracic) spine

• Head and neck protruding forward

• Flattening out of the lower (lumber) spine

• Forward tilt of the hips (pelvis)

• Hips, knees and ankles out of alignment

• Externally rotated feet

Alongside working in exercises that will allow the client to reach their goals, I will work in exercises that will work in exercises that will strengthen up the posterior chain. Major muscles of the posterior chain are:

• Upper back (upper Trapezius, Rhomboids and Rear Deltoids)

• Middle back (mid and lower Trapezius and Latissimus Dorsi)

• Lower back (Erector Spinea)

• Buttocks (Gluteus Maximus and Gluteus Medius)

• Back of upper leg (Biceps Femoris, Semitendinosus and Semimembranosus)

• Back of lower leg (Gastrocnemius and Soleus)

We want to work on improving the strength of these muscles depending on the problems each client has with his or her posture. Our main aim is to get them back in to correct posture, which would be to have:

• Shoulders pulled back, not excessively

• Head and neck pulled back

• No internal rotation of the hands

• Spine to be in the correct position

• Hips to be level, with no forward or backward tilt of the pelvis

• Hips, knees and ankles in alignment

• Feet facing forward

I will be following this article up with the implications poor posture can have on the your health and what exercises I use with my clients to help correct and maintain good posture.

Beachle, T.R., and Earle, R.W. Essentials of Strength and Conditioning, 3rd ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. 2008

Zatsiorsky, V.M., and Kraemer, W.J. Science and Practice of Strength Training, 2nd ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. 2006