Do you suffer from poor posture? Rounded shoulders, tight chest muscles, painful lower back? You’re not alone.
What causes bad posture? Our day to day lives tend to revolve around activities that are detrimental to our posture, such as sitting at desks for hours on end, being on your phone, slouching on the sofa and even driving. Basically, anything where we're reaching forwards for a long period can have a negative impact on the musculature which holds postural positions.
When we’re sitting at a computer or driving, the shoulders are pushed forward and the shoulder blades are spread apart. Over time this stretches the upper back muscles and actually makes the chest and anterior shoulder muscles shorter. This excessive curvature in the upper back is known as hyper- kyphosis and is typically characterised by a hunched upper back, rounded shoulders and tight chest muscles.
The impacts of hyper-kyphosis will get worse and worse the longer it is present therefore making it increasingly difficult to correct this posture problem. Basically, the chest and shoulder muscles get even shorter over time as well as the back muscles becoming longer and weaker. This continues in a downward spiral until preventative and corrective exercises are incorporated.
Hyper-kyphosis can lead to all sorts of problems including:
Decreased lung capacity
Increased chance of spinal injury
Increased chance of nervous system impairment
Increased chance of permanent kyphotic posture
Leg and back pain
Decreased sports performance
Increase risk of shoulder injury
Poor general mobility
Decrease quality of life.
So it’s pretty safe to say that we want to avoid falling into the poor posture cycle, but how can we do that when a lot of our daily activities are geared around sitting with poor posture?
We know that hyper-kyphosis and poor posture is caused primarily by a lack of flexibility and mobility, so the first thing we can do is stretch!
Stretching should be a part of your daily routine any way but if there’s one stretch you need to help counter bad posture it’s a good chest stretch! This stretch will help lengthen the pectoral muscles, which are generally sitting in a shortened position. Chest stretches are some of the most satisfying stretches where you can definitely notice a huge difference after just a few minutes.
The second stretch is aimed at lengthening the big lat muscles. These are also internal rotators of the upper arm meaning if we’ve got tight lats, the shoulder will start to be pulled round and forward. Stretching your lats regularly will help reduce internal rotation of shoulder and humerus, allowing for easier and scapula retraction.
After having stretched the anterior muscles we now look at the posterior muscles. In order to shorten the upper back muscles, like the traps and rhomboids, which have stretched over time we have to contract them under load.
The best exercises to target these muscles are horizontal pulling movements like rows. Check out the videos below and add these to your workouts!
Band Face Pull
All of the back exercises above should be performed with a focus on your mid-back muscles, working hard to puff up your chest and squeeze your shoulder blades together when the weight is pulled back.
Here's an example workout you could do with the exercises above to help shorten your back muscles and improve your posture.
Barbell Row- 3 sets 8 reps
Cable Row- 3 sets 8 reps
TRX Row- 3 sets 12 reps
Face Pull- 3 sets 12 reps
Adding these exercises into your workout will over time help strengthen and shorten your upper back muscles, allowing for stronger, more stable and more aligned posture.
If you're still needing some more help with your posture, you can book onto our Perfect Posture workshop to assess your posture and to give you some personalised pointers on how to fix it as well as a 6wk programme for you to work on perfecting your posture!
Saturday 7th May 10am-12pm
Sunday 8th May 10am-12pm
Each workshop is 2hrs long, giving you all the knowledge, stretches and exercises you'll need! Earlybird tickets get £20 off until 16th April.