Posture: What, Why, and How?

What is Posture?

The definition of posture is “any intentionally or habitually assumed position”. For our purposes, posture comprises all positions consciously and subconsciously assumed while moving and while resting.

Nearly everyone has been told to “Stand up straight; put your shoulders back!” to appear taller, speak louder, and project confidence. This is typically invoked before first dates, oral reports, and speaking to a group. Good posture will benefit someone by increasing their stature and attractiveness for a crucial moment in life.

But why stop there? Should good posture be a reserved stature of formality? Why do we not “stand up and put our shoulders back” all day every day? Is that even possible? What’s the point?

The good news is everyone is capable of improving their posture through physical activity with a habits and lifestyle that includes lots of upright activity. The bad news is everyone is equally liable of having their posture degrade through physical neglect and habitual hunching and slouching.

Good posture is characterized by effortless and efficient maintenance of a neutral, upright spine with head, shoulders, hips, and knees aligned while standing. Bad posture is characterized by misalignment of the head, shoulders, hips, and knees.

Posture, good or bad, is a quality of fitness and health much like strength, flexibility, cardiovascular health, and mobility. It requires effort and maintenance to develop and retain good posture and its benefits.

Why Does Posture Matter?

Posture affects the human body 365 days a year, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, 60 minutes every hour, 60 seconds every minute: Literally every moment of anyone’s life.

Posture’s effect on the body are persistent and tangible, and they affect the human body during work, rest, play, and even while sleeping. Good posture increases mobility, circulatory efficiency, and reduces strain on numerous muscles and joints. Poor posture will impair coordination and mobility while creating muscular incurring strain and stiffness.

Lifestyles, daily surroundings, and activity level play major roles in shaping posture along with occupations, height, and age.

Poor posture can be a product of prolonged, repeated assumption of stressful positions, specifically hunched shoulders, rounding of the back, and twisting and tilting of the hips.

As common signs of poor posture develop and reinforce themselves, numerous asymmetries are likely to form: Twisted upper torsos and pronated knees and feet often worsen with high-impact training employing extensive compound movements.

How Does Someone Fix Posture?

Posture can always be improved through physical training, changes in habits, and optimizing one’s daily surroundings.

Office workers should take note of how much they sit versus how much they stand and walk. Sedentary workers face dual risk of muscle strain and atrophy from prolonged sitting and hunching over one’s desk or leaning toward any single side.

Manual laborers often lift and carry heavy loads using a preferred side which can overwork a single side of the back, legs, and shoulders. Any repeated lifting can generate asymmetries which generate strains and injury.

Weakened standing muscles, strained posterior chain muscles, and strained shoulders will invariably create outwardly signs of poor posture such as an arched lower back, rounded shoulders, head-forward positions (“crane neck) and outwardly-rotated feet (“duck feet”). Identifying signs of poor posture will help create the training plan to correct and improve posture.

To identify one’s postural imbalances and asymmetries, they just need to observe themselves in the mirror while standing or take a series of full-body standing photographs from the font, profile, and back.

Check the positions of the hands, feet, and head for deviations from good postural position. For a more detailed view, take pictures that record the bony reference points of the shoulders, ribs, hips, knees, and feet while standing.

There are many signs of poor posture, but the 3 Common Signs of Poor Posture tend to be the most prevalent, especially among sedentary workers.

Consult a physician to rule out any injuries or structural condition before putting stress and resistance on muscles and joints.

If the back aches, feet hurt, or neck and shoulders feel pain, it is best to rule out any breaks, tears, and sprains with a medical professional. The benefits of a strength training program could be undermined by an injury while the injury itself might worsen through inadequate address and recovery.

Once injury has been ruled out, use observed signs of poor posture to pinpoint overactive muscle strains and their underactive opposing muscles. Choose exercises that target and strengthen these atrophied muscles while simultaneously extending and stretching their strained muscles.

Calisthenics, holds, and lifts which allow active recruitment of stabilizers to maintain proper alignment of the hips, shoulders, feet, knees are ideal for improving posture by building muscular balance strength and symmetry.Many of these exercises are easy to learn while offering serious levels of challenge when focusing on maintaining good form and balance.

For all exercises, the focus should be the use of symmetrical, controlled form while executing full range-of-motion for each exercise. While resistance through weights, bands, and other means can increase challenge, the primary goal is to recruit stabilizers and secondary muscles to overcome immobility and asymmetry.