Fit 4 Life | Fitness built on posture
Posture does not often appear among New Year's fitness goals. This is unfortunate because posture provides a detailed description of the health of muscles and joints. It also affects health and performance significantly and is likely to be negatively influenced by improper training.
In fact, poor posture can make training downright dangerous; increasing the risk of serious injury with each training session as postural deviations are exacerbated.
The foundation of poor posture, in most cases, is an imbalance or deviation about a joint or joints; oftentimes characterised by tight or overactive muscles on one side and weak or stretched muscles on the other, thereby pulling the joint out of alignment.
While there are many postural deviations, today we take a look at those that are associated with the spine and are highly likely to affect or be influenced by basic training.
Scoliosis is an excessive lateral curve of the spine. A person with scoliosis should consult a physician before beginning any training.
Kyphosis is an exaggerated anterior-posterior curve of the spine - an excessive forward bending of the upper back or slouching. Kyphosis is usually seen in older adults as a result of ageing. It also appears to occur in younger adults as a result of practising poor posture and/or performing crunches with a shortened range of motion, according to the International Sports Sciences Association.
Possibly tight muscles: Internal oblique, shoulder adductors (pectorals and lats), intercostals.
Possibly underactive muscles: Erector spinae of the thoracic spine, scapular adductors (mid and lower trapezius).
Hyperlordosis is the excessive inward curvature of the lower back and an anterior (forward) tilt of the pelvis.
Possibly tight muscles: Lower back (erectors), hip flexors.
Possibly underactive muscles: Abdominals (especially obliques), hip extensors.
In hypolordosis, or 'flatback', there is too little curvature in the lower back, creating a posterior (backward) tilt of the pelvis.
Possibly tight muscles: Upper abdominals, hip extensors
Possibly underactive muscles: Lower back (erectors), hip flexors
CHECK YOUR POSTURE
There are three main ways to assess posture. Combining the three methods will give the most complete picture of any postural deviations.
1. The first method is to stand straight up - barefooted - in a natural, comfortable posture and have a friend take pictures of you from the front, back, and sides. Do not try to correct or perfect your pose. Look at the pictures and try to identify any imbalance.
2. The second method builds on the first. Suspend a weight on a string from the ceiling. Try to align the string to the centre of your body in each picture. With good posture, you should be close to symmetrical on both sides of the string.
3. The final technique is to stand with your back against a wall. The heels, backs of the calves, buttocks, upper back, and head should be able to comfortably touch the wall. If you strain to hit all points of contact, it is likely that there is some deviation.
Correcting strengthening weak muscles and stretching tight ones could go a far way in correcting deviations. Good posture provides a firm foundation on which to build, as such fixing postural deviations should be among the first goals of any fitness programme.
Be sure to consult a doctor before beginning any exercise programme, especially if you suspect you have a postural deviation.