Posture is more than just about looking good. It puts your body’s limbs into optimal working position which reduces stress on your muscles, ligaments and joints. This drop in stress often translates to less muscle pain, more energy, and an overall reduction of risk for injury.
All in all, good posture plays a tremendous role promoting strength, flexibility, and balance in within body.
We all have moments where our posture is less than admirable; but at one point does posture go from so-so, to poor, or very poor? How can you find this out?
I am going to answer these questions, and demonstrate 5 bulletproof exercises to improve it, from a scientific perspective!
Biggest Posture Faults:
In the vast majority of cases, the largest posture fault involves excessive internal rotation of the shoulders and significant protraction of the neck. Now keep in mind that these movements aren’t always bad. Internal rotation during compound lifts, like the clean or snatch, is key to keeping the bar path vertical throughout the movement.
But spending too much time in either of these positions via staring at a screen, sitting, slouching or performing too many anterior dominant exercises are the key contributors to poor posture over time. Eventually, muscles stiffen and these new awkward positions start to feel natural; even though ergonomically, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
It’s also worth noting that the older you get, the more difficult it is to break out of these awkward positions. When you are ready and willing to make significant change, the mountain may be too high to climb!
To sum things up, poor posture looks bad, feels bad, and puts certain muscles at added risk of acute or chronic injury. So how can you test for poor posture?
There is no universally accepted way to do this. But in my experience, this method is a pretty good indicator.
In a standing or seated position, shrug your shoulders towards your ears, retract your shoulders back, and then depress them down towards the ground. Don’t just relax at the end of your set. Your shoulders should still feel engaged if done correctly.
From this position, let your upper body go limp and observe how far your shoulders lurch forward. Your ears should be in line with your shoulders and your palms should be more or less facing each other.
A small change in position is nothing I would get super worked out about. But if you notice a significant hunch forward from this position in both the shoulders and neck, your resting posture needs work.
In this next segment I’ve broken down the top 5 best exercises and mobility drills to improve posture fast!
Top 5 Exercises & Drills To Improve Posture:
Supine Overhead Arm Pin:
From a supine position, place a foam roller or block across your shoulders. Extend your arms up and back and grab onto a loaded barbell, dumbbells or something that is firmly grounded. Use the roller to raise your chest upwards and extend your shoulders.
If done correctly you should feel a huge stretch across the chest, shoulders and neck. Not only will this move help with resting posture, but you should see a difference in your overhead lifts as well. Keeping the weight traveling in a vertical pattern.
Hold this stretch up to 1 minute at a time.
Stand upright with your back against a wall and your feet shoulder-width apart. Press your arms into the wall, flare them out from your sides and bend your elbows at 90 degrees, like a field goal signal. Maintain contact with the wall as you slide your arms vertically overhead while maintaining the bend in your elbow. Pause. Slide your arms back down the wall until your elbows are close to your sides.
If done correctly your head, shoulders, elbows, wrists and lower back should all make contact with the wall during the ROM. No need to panic if they don’t, it just means you need more practice.
Perform 3 sets of 8-10 reps for optimal results.
Banded External Rotations:
Plant both feet on the floor hip-width apart. Holding a band with an underhand grip, bend your elbows to 90 degrees and keep them glued to your torso at all times. Pull your shoulder blades down and back, and then bring your thumbs out to the sides as far as you can.
I like to pretend I’m sideways hitchhiking. I recommend squeezing a towel while doing this exercise to promote that tight torso squeeze of the elbows.
Perform 12-15 reps at a time.
In a prone position, bring your arms out to the side with your palms facing downwards. From here, pull your shoulder blades together, hold for 5 seconds, and then relax.
If done correctly your hands should come off the ground on their own. You shouldn’t need to consciously bring them up yourself.
Aim for 10-15 repetitions total.
When firing properly your SA helps open up the chest and align the neck correctly at rest and during other key exercises. Start in a high plank position. Keeping your arms extended, slide your shoulder blades inwards so that they are essentially touching each other.
Once you’ve done that, bring them outwards away from each other.
Repeat this 10 times.
Work With A Pro:
At Stephen Fitness & Rehabilitation, we offer personal training and physiotherapy services specifically designed for individuals in Oakville and London, Ontario looking to improve their posture.
Our mission is to improve the strength, mobility and independence of each and every client in a friendly, empathetic, and non intimidating atmosphere.
Contact us to learn more about how we can help you or your loved one become stronger more mobile and independent in the comfort of their own home!