In our current day and age, we find ourselves spending excessive amounts of time seated, on our tech devices and living a sedentary lifestyle. The results of these habits are clearly seen in how we carry ourselves, particularly how we carry our bodies through space, this is known as our posture.
The optimal position of our body can be seen in the featured image. Drawing a straight line starting at the mid-foot and finishing at the mid-skull area, our body’s center of gravity should be distributed evenly through the line. To figure out whether you have optimal posture, there are a handful of checkpoints to review. Each of the following points should be bisected by the line, these include:
- Ankle Joint
- Knee Joint (more specifically the front 1/3 of the joint)
- Hip Joint
- Shoulder Joint
- Ear Lobe
If any of these positions are compromised, then there are muscular imbalances and compensations present that are pulling the body out of alignment. The following 3 Impairments are the most common causes of imbalances and result in poor posture.
1. Upper Cross Syndrome
Many people suffer from the symptoms of UCS, most will feature a forward head posture and rounded shoulders. Look around, I am sure you could see or even think of a few people that have visible symptoms.
This is a direct result to two of the points made at the beginning of this article, spending long periods of time on a tech device and a sedentary lifestyle. However, I find another common cause deals with gym goers who neglect rowing and back exercises and focus mostly on the chest and arms. This also results in an imbalance between the strength of the muscles.
So how do we reverse or correct this impairment? Through resistance training and bodily-awareness, both go hand-in-hand. Often times the muscles of the mid back surrounding the shoulder blades are underactive and weak while the muscles surrounding the neck and chest are overactive and tight.
Applying Self Myofascial-Release (SMR), then stretching of overactive, tight muscles followed by activation and integrated resistance exercises to re-educate and strengthen the underactive, weak muscles is an established method.
- Overactive/tight Muscles: Upper Trap, Levator Scapulae, Pec Major, Pec Minor
- Underactive/weak Muscles: Mid & Lower Traps, Serratus Anterior, Rotator Cuff Muscles, SCM
- Recurring afflictions associated with UCS include Bicep Tendinitis, Shoulder Impingement, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and headaches.
2. Lower Cross Syndrome
Next, we will look at a similar impairment that affects the Lumbo-Pelvic region known as LCS. Most people suffer from an anterior pelvic tilt and/or Hyper-Lordosis, which are both identifiable fairly easily.
Both of these can be attributed to long periods of sitting and a sedentary lifestyle. Our hips should be on a level plane parallel to flat ground, however, there are some exceptions. If the hips are rotated forward (think butt back and belly open) we are in anterior pelvic tilt. The most frequent complaint of an anterior pelvic tilt is lower-back pain, however, there is much more reason to avoid this position.
Here is a corrective exercise guide to follow for LCS.
- Overactive/tight Muscles: Spinal Erectors, Iliopsoas Complex, Rectus Femoris, Gastrocnemius, Adductors, TFL
- Underactive/weak Muscles: Rectus Abdominus, Transverse Abdominus, Glute Maximus, Glute Medius, Tibialis Complex
- Recurring afflictions associated with LCS: Low back pain, Anterior Knee Pain, Hamstring Strains
3. Pronation Distortion Syndrome
Lastly, we are now moving onto the lower extremities and there most frequent impairment, PDS. Have you ever seen someone with their knees caving in towards each other? Or someone with a collapsed arch of the foot? Most of us have and this is a sign they could be suffering from PDS.
Now, I completely understand genetics play a huge role on the size of the foot arch and it is important to note whether a flat foot is something you have always had or recently noticed. Either way, both end up leading down a road to imbalances and possible pain/injury in the future.
The entirety of PDS involves a person’s feet turning outwards with a collapsed arch known as Pronation and Knee Valgus. Excessive time sitting, sedentary lifestyle and even improper footwear contribute to PDS over time.
Here is a corrective exercise guide to help yourself balance out the impairment.
- Overactive/tight Muscles: Lateral Gastrocnemius, Peroneals, Short Head of Biceps Femoris, TFL
- Underactive/weak Muscles: Tibialis Complex, Glute Maximus, Glute Medius, Medial Gastrocnemius
- Recurring afflictions associated with PDS: Plantar Fasciitis, Anterior Knee Pain, Hamstring Strains, Achilles Tendonitis
Knowing this information now allows you to:
- Identify common signs of impairments in posture
- Take action against imbalanced relationships between muscles surrounding the area including overactive, tight muscles vs. underactive, weak muscles
- And if you are at the point where you are already feeling pain or discomfort you now know the underlying causes and can reverse engineer an approach to correct your posture back to proper alignment.
I encourage you to be more self-aware throughout your day on whether or not you are upholding optimal posture. Whether you are sitting at work, at the gym or walking around the house, take a moment to stop and glance/feel from head to toe the checkpoints mentioned above. Do your best to set things in the right and then carry on.
Thanks for reading and best of luck to you moving forward trying not to recognize these signs in others when in public.
Born in South Florida and initially exposed to fitness training through the bodybuilding scene, Connor found his interest in fitness was less of a hobby and more of a lifestyle. This led him to study exercise science and sports nutrition at Eastern Connecticut State University and thereafter to become a Certified Personal Trainer.
Over the past few years, Connor has made training a necessity in his life. His workouts are taken as a time to reflect and test his mental and physical limits that continue to give him an edge to carry throughout his day.
Connor is currently the Head Trainer and Strength Coach at a private gym in Hartford, CT where he trains and educates his clients on the importance of fitness and nutrition for overall health. "
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