27. 06. 2016

Not only does good posture boost your body image and make you look great, but it also helps decrease your likelihood of injury. It minimizes the load on your skeletal muscles, and enables your body to move more freely and efficiently. Poor posture can lead to anything from headaches, injuries, pain, and many other common conditions. This is why, fixing your posture could fix a lot of your problems.

If you search online, you’ll find a seemingly unending list of exercises to do to improve your posture. All the information can get overwhelming, leaving you unsure of where to start. Let’s simplify things bit.

There are a lot of common patterns of poor posture that people share – for example, forward head posture, forward rounded shoulders, and Janda’s upper and lower crossed syndromes (Picture on left).

The patterns mentioned above and shown on both pictures frequently lead to specific muscles either being tight, or overstretched and weak. Hence, stretch and strengthen the right muscles to fight this tendency is surely part of the solution.

Muscles to Stretch 

1. Suboccipitals
2. Pecs
3. Hip Flexors
4. Hamstrings

Muscles to Strengthen 

1. Mid- and Lower-Trapezius
2. Anterior & Posterior Core
3. Glute Muscles

Depending on which specific postural pattern you tend to have, you may not need to stretch and strengthen all of the above, but I’ve also never seen people who are too flexible with the first list, or too strong with the second in more than 10 years as fitness trainer.

Workout to Fight Poor Posture: 

The following exercises don’t specifically target each and every muscle listed above, but instead aim to correct multiple muscles and body regions simultaneously for a more efficient workout.

Warm-up: Start by foam rolling your thoracic spine for 1-minute. This exercise helps straighten the upper spine. Since most of us tend to slouch more than we should (specially when spending long times seated at a desk looking to a monitor), it’s a good idea to start your workout with this.

Exercise Sets & Reps/Time
Wall Angels 2 x 10 reps (per min)
Hip Hinge with Hands Overhead 10 x 10 sec holds
Standing Horizontal Abduction with TRX (or Band) 10 x 10 sec holds
Farmer’s Carry 2 x 1 min
Double- or Single-Leg Bridge Hold 2 x 1 min

All these exercises are very well known and the exercise instructions can be easily found by Googling them.

However, if you are unfamiliar with them, I strongly recommend you to get a professional to lead you throughout the right technique, as exercising with poor technique to fix poor posture, it is like combating fire with oil.

If you training with us, you have most probably done these movements several times as we commonly prescribe them as part of our warm-up and cool-down sessions. (If unsure about names, tech or alignment, please do not hesitate to ask our trainers)

If you mix this workout into your routine 2-3 days per week, you should definitely see improvements in your posture. But the goal is to have this carry over into your daily life – when you sit at your desk, when you’re standing and talking to people, and in your other workouts.

Fixing your posture is about fixing your behavior:

To correct and improve your posture, you must emphasize it throughout the day until it is ingrained in your muscle memory:

Step 1: Set Up Your Environment For Good Posture

At your desk, have proper lumbar support and use it. Sit upright. When standing and walking, before you go anywhere or before you speak to anyone, stand tall and relaxed.

Step 2: Strength Train with Proper Form & Technique 

Exercises performed with poor form only reinforce poor posture. Example: If you drop your head towards the floor while doing pushups, your head will be pulling on your upper traps and levator scapula, reinforcing forward head posture. Just because this position makes the exercise feel easier doesn’t mean you’re doing it right.

This is why standing full-body exercises are better than machine-based exercises as you have to pay more attention to your form and technique when performing standing full-body movements. This is also one of the reasons why at Workout Australia we choose to train our clients with exercise techniques based on the principles of functional movement training and stay away from gym's machines.

Step 3: Posture Affects Mood, & Mood Affects Posture 

When you force yourself to smile big, you usually feel happier. The same applies to standing fully upright with good posture. Much like how our nerves are wired to make connections between facial expression and mood, we have connections between body language and mood. Think of it this way: “Walk like a boss”. 

Have you ever seen a CEO give a speech onstage with poor posture? By habitually standing tall, you’ll present yourself as a more competent and confident individual, and you’ll feel more confident.

The reality is, you don’t have all day, and I’m not one to emphasize specific isolated stretches or exercises to fix the strength or weakness of a specific muscle group. You can do exercises and stretches all day, but if you resume your poor posture as soon as you step out of your workout class or sit in front of your desk, you basically just wasted your entire time exercising. 

Prioritize good posture by implementing the workout above and setting yourself up for success in your life. Then, show off your leaner, more confident, and healthier image by standing tall!


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