Posture isn't something we always think about with fitness, but it definitely should be, it can cause aches, pains and even muscular imbalances!
Posture is one of the most important things you should be considering when consistently working out in the gym. So why is that? Your posture effects your movement, and also how particular areas of body the move. Without knowing we sometimes put unnecessary and unnatural stress on the body, changing how it holds itself. If your posture is bad, it affects how you perform exercises, what muscles have the most emphasis whilst doing the exercise and this can lead to muscular imbalances and tight and inflexible body. Essentially your posture is how you hold yourself, no one really has perfect posture, but there is a guide of how it should ideally look.
There are many variations to posture, here are the 4 most common types:
This is when your ear, shoulder and ankle are all in alignment, this usually shows your body is in a normal position with a neutral spine position.
This is when there is a curvature of the spine causing your (thoracic spine) upper back to become hunched and more rounded than normal.
This can cause:
This is when a curvature is most commonly at the lumbar spine (lower back) causing excess arch in the back.
This can cause:
To test to see what posture you match, use either a mirror to observe, take pictures, or stand normally against a wall and see what touches and what doesn't!
How it's caused
There are many ways bad posture can be caused. The examples showed are the worst possible versions of each, however similar traits are very common in the general public. Your occupation can cause bad posture, holding a bag on the same shoulder, over use of one side of the body, or maybe even a past injury can cause imbalances too. For example, many office workers have a slight kyphotic posture as they sit all day, they lean their head forwards and slouch to the computer or desk. Muscles become lazy and underused and this causes your body to change its natural position to what it's held in most of its time, this then becomes your normal body posture!
Why it's dangerous
As mentioned, the examples shown are worst cases, but if you don't fix postural issues, you could be in bad posture for the rest of your life which could lead to a very bad postural case! Another reason why it can be dangerous is over time, your body would have compensated using different muscles and skeletal positions to hold your body in that position, eventually leading to muscle tears, lower back or neck pains if not reversed or changed is enough time.
How to fix it
If you have seen from your own pictures, looked in a mirror or just know you have bad posture, I would suggest to try and figure out the obvious first, leaning to one side daily, carrying a bag on one arm, always looking down at your phone, whatever it is try and fix it! Switch arms when holding a bag, be aware when you slouch, or even get a new chair to keep you upright! If you feel your posture is more severe or causing you pain, I would visit a physio, osteopath or personal trainer to try and help diagnose which specific areas of the body need work to really help reverse the bad posture.
Be aware of how you stand, sit and move on a day to day basis. Does your posture match our ideal posture picture? If not, try and think of things you do and avoid repeating the same positions to move your body back to a more neutral and natural position. Get help from a fitness professional regarding strengthening and stretching muscles to really make progress and always work your body equally and evenly to avoid over compensation of muscles!
All articles are written by Luke Teuma, Founder of Lean With Luke.