I’m Boneman 5000, and welcome to Everyday Posture! I am not a health professional of any kind. I am not certified for any personal fitness training. I am just a regular guy sharing his knowledge and experiences with improving posture.
My Posture Story
In my mid-20’s, I started working as a graphic artist in the video game industry. This meant long hours with my butt planted in my office chair, hunching over my desk, and craning my neck toward a series of monitors.
Long hours, often 60-100 hours per week, combined with erratic, unpredictable schedules contributed to a sharp decline in my overall physical activity. Without muscle-building activity and a mass-building diet, my body sort of withered away while simultaneously becoming warped and twisted.
By the time I was 30, my shoulders had become hunched, my hips were askew, my neck was stiff, and my lower back ached after everything: Walking, sitting, even laying down.
I began to experience persistent pain in my left shoulder, my fingers would sometimes go numb, and I began feeling a sharp pain inside my hip and groin whenever I sat down too fast. Stretching and walking would provide temporary relief while I attempted to manage the time I was spending at my desk.
The issues with my shoulder, hips, and groin eventually became persistent and seemed to coincide with sitting at my desk. I would stretch and walk, but these measures provided relief without any indications of correcting my issues.
Certain I had torn or sprained a muscle or ligament while working out at some point, I visited my physician who referred me to an orthopedist. After a series of tests and an X-ray, I was surprised to learn I showed zero signs of injuries aside from minor inflammation of muscles in my left shoulder. I was sent on my way with a prescription for ibuprofen horse-pills and a recommendation to wear an over-the-counter shoulder brace.
I mentioned my issues to a friend who introduced me to a physical therapist who provided me with an informal postural evaluation. She immediately identified numerous signs of poor posture while detailing the muscular imbalances, weaknesses, and strains that formed them.
Through a combination of poor exercise form, lack of upright activity, and prolonged periods of sitting at a desk, I had developed multi-planar asymmetries of the hip and shoulder which were creating outward signs of poor posture.
To effectively correct my signs of poor posture, I would need to address my overall state of poor posture with daily activity and habits that could overcome the physical consequences resulting from years of habitual hunching and inadequate exercise.
I was given some basic tips and exercises that immediately had a positive effect on my posture while opening my eyes to the benefits of good posture. This sent me down a path to gain technical knowledge about anatomy and physiology and how it affected my posture. It also put me in touch with several crucial resources that provided professional knowledge and exercises for improving posture. I have included these indispensable resources under ‘LINKS‘.
It was important to read different ideas and perspectives built around posture. Different experts shared the same technical understanding of the human body while each expert approached the subject from their field of study and specialization.
Some really focused on subconscious and habitual causes of poor posture. Some were focused on how posture affected athletic performance. All agreed poor posture exposed people to strain and injury while good posture could potentially optimize a person’s physical output and performance.
I used this information to build a daily routine to improve my posture through strength-building workouts employing calisthenics, yoga, and weightlifting. I focused on exercises that could build strength and flexibility while allowing me to consciously recruit muscles to align the hips, knees, shoulders, neck, and head positions throughout each hold and repetition.
The key would be the use of strict form, performing each exercise with full range-of-motion, and symmetrical execution of holds and lifts. I applied this approach over several years, and I have included some quick shots of my progress as of March 2019.
Progress from 2016 to 2019.
My posture is still far from perfect (left shoulder still elevated, minor twist in hips and trunk, neck and torso have a slight drift toward left side), but this is easily the best my posture has ever been as an adult. I have found the results to be encouraging.
Other measures included optimizing my daily surroundings at home and at work. Two of the most effective adjustments were switching to standing desks at home and at work and adjusting my car seats to reduce slouching while driving. These helped address numerous tendencies that caused habitual hunching.
Physical benefits I have experienced include increased balance, reflexes, and mobility. I also have increased endurance for prolonged standing and walking without tiring my lower back or feet, evidence that many of the muscles used to stand upright have developed strength and balance.
4 Fundamentals For Good Posture
Since each person is unique is unique with different careers, schedules, and body-types , there are probably limits to any one-size-fits-all approach to fixing posture. What I will share are adaptable concepts I have incorporated into my training to adjust postural imbalances and asymmetries.
- Posture is an aggregate result of daily habits and activities.
- There are no quick fixes for poor posture if years of habits are at the root.
- Without correction, poor posture will build upon poor posture.
- Good posture is not permanent; it needs physical maintenance.
Rather than act as specific instructives, these four concepts should help form a strategic, long-term approach to improving posture and maintaining the benefits gained from the process.
I hope Everyday Posture inspires people to think about their posture and to consider the benefits of improving it. Future articles will detail exercises, Q&A, and DIY guides for reorganizing one’s office and work area.