Posture, while important aesthetically, also plays a vital role in the function and health of almost all the joints in the body. My latest blog, will help you assess your posture with a simple movement screening, and evaluate the results to tailor your training.
Whether by threat of a ruler toting catholic school nun, or the gentle reminder from a loving parent, many of us have been encouraged at one point or another to sit up straight with our shoulders aligned. What you may not have known then was the impact you may have been having on the soft developing tissues of your posterior and how that would effect the way you move as you age. Fortunately, because these tissues are soft, with the proper exercise prescription, many of us can offset a life of slouching at the desk, computer, car, and couch.
A straight and neutral spine is important every time you sit into or out of a chair, pick something up, or work out in the gym. Lack of stability in the lumbar spine and or rounding or kyphosis in your thoracic or mid back increases compressive and shear forces in lower back. While some may argue that we should not sit at all, (see The Sitting Disease), its apart of our daily life, and therefore, proper spine strength and alignment is important to avoid lower back injury when performing tasks of daily living and while under loads in the gym.
An unloaded overhead squat, is a great movement screening for thoracic spine mobility, popularized by Gray Cook's Functional Movement Screening (FMS). Not only is it indicative of core strength, but is also a sign of shoulder rhythm. If you dont have someone to watch or video you, use a mirror.
1. Assume a square, shoulder width stance with your feet.
2. If available, grasp a stick or dowel, and place it on top of your head, bending your elbows at 90 degrees.
3. Extend your arms directly overhead with straight elbows.
4. Proceed to squat down as deep as you can while maintaining straight extended arms
5. Repeat step 4 a few more times
Keep an eye on the mirror or watch a recording of yourself:
Do your head and shoulders collapse down to the floor?
Is your back curved and rounded?
Did you have to bend your elbows or move your arms forward to squat to 90 degrees or more?
If your squat looked like this:
You may have a kyphotic immobile thoracic spine. This is going to limit your range of motion and load bearing capacity while performing simple movements like sitting up and out of a chair, or picking up small loads, not to mention limit your training in the gym. Additionally, the rounding in your mid back, disrupts the natural rhythm of your scapulas and their relationship with your shoulder. This may lead to shoulder issues doing things requiring overhead lifting, or pushing movements in the gym.
To look like this:
Add some of the thoracic mobility drills I have on my demo page to your corrective movements, dynamic warm up, or active rest for several weeks and begin to reap the benefits of a better aligned spine, stronger core and shoulder mobility.