In case you don’t already know, there’s a lot of value in having good posture. Not only does good posture boost your body image and make you look better in a suit, 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, to rotator cuff injuries, back pain, and many other common ailments. In other words, fixing your posture could fix a lot of your problems.
Often times, when I help people feel what good posture actually is, the first thing they tell me is “I feel weird”. This is because our bodies become used to the posture that we spend most of our time in. But this doesn’t make your bad posture ok.
A quick exercise you can try at home is to balance something on your head – you’ll probably straighten your spine and naturally place your head in a more correct position. The challenge then becomes to maintain this optimal posture throughout the majority of your day.
Which Muscles To Stretch vs. Strengthen?
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. These patterns frequently lead to specific muscles either being tight, or overstretched and weak.
Muscles to Stretch
If you had all day, the most common muscles that you should stretch include:
3. Hip Flexors
Muscles to Strengthen
And these are the most common muscles that you should 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.