Everyone who has ever worked with a personal trainer, reads this or other fitness related blogs, or simply has some level of exercise experience, is undoubtedly aware of the need to care for their muscles by warming up, stretching after, and not overdoing anything that will strain them in a negative way. Raise your hand if this is you. Great. BUT…. What about your posture?
One of the first changes to my perspective that I experienced when I became a certified personal trainer was that I saw postural distortions all over the place, and more importantly, I now understood what was causing them.
What are postural distortions you ask? Simply put, its having muscles so tight they are shortened, which therein causes opposing muscles to be stretched tight, which therefore causes an imbalance in the body. How does this manifest in the body to the naked eye: shoulders curled forward, one shoulder higher than another, head thrust forward, bow-legged walking, heels that can’t stay down, etc.
Mind you, these are often subtle visually, so you might wonder why it matters. It matters because a body party out of balance has a domino effect on other body parts – issues that may matter to you more than your aesthetic posture (which I will address later). If you have overly tightened pectoral muscles (chest) you may suffer from chronic neck aches and/or head aches. If any of the numerous muscle groups in your legs are tight causing misalignment, you can suffer everything from extreme knee pain, to sciatica, lower back lock ups, and in general pain from your hips to your ankles.
For those lucky few who suffer no pain, but still have postural distortions resulting in poor posture, think about this – many people find women or men who do not stand up straight to appear less confident and less open emotionally. A man who has over trained his traps, lats and rhomboids can appear comically crab-like (or Neanderthal) with shoulders that roll forward and arms that cannot rest at their sides. These man are often viewed as“less intelligent” or “meat heads.”
I have been known to spend an entire training session with a new client just focusing on stretching and fixing their postural distortions. Often they complain that it while the stretching feels good, they feel the session wasn’t as productive as a normal training session. But usually within a few months of our working together, they realize how much they’ve gained by resolving their posture issues (in strength, stamina and confidence) and how much better they feel.
Your posture is important, both for what it conveys about yourself, and what it does for your overall health. Do not neglect it.