Your posture says a lot about your personality. It also says a lot about how your joints and muscles are working. Here’s everything you need to know about assessing your postural deviations and how to fix them!
This first post on correcting posture deviations will focus on fixing sway back posture. For those who want to jump ahead and read about all the posture deviations and how to correct them, you can check my free Power Posture instruction manual here:
The importance of fixing sway back posture and other deviations
Imagine a strong, powerful, confident person standing in front of you. What kind of posture does that person have? Undoubtedly, the person in front of you is standing tall with an open chest and a head held high. It’s a person who looks ready to take on the world.
We’ve been told time and time again to “sit up straight” or “stop slouching”, but have we ever considered the health benefits of having good posture?
In fact, people often attempt to fix their posture merely because it makes them look more confident, slimmer, and attractive. While all this may be true, bad posture can create many health issues that should be reason enough to work towards better posture. For example, bad posture is linked to chronic back pain, migraines, poor digestion, lack of oxygen flow, and much more.
WHAT CAUSES BAD POSTURE?
Poor posture or “postural dysfunction” is defined as when our spine is being held in an unnatural position. The result of these unnatural positions are extra stress on our joints, muscles, and vertebrae. Most often, poor posture is something that we naturally do without even noticing.
Anyone can suffer from poor posture and if you begin poor posture at a young age, is it likely you will carry it throughout your life. People are becoming more and more susceptible to posture issues because of the use of technology, forcing us to hold ourselves in unique positions to view a small screen. Unless you are actively working towards good posture, you are most likely making some type of posture mistake without even realizing it.
THE NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF EFFECTS OF POOR POSTURE ARE?
Numerous health issues Poor posture can create includes:
Chronic neck and back pain – Sitting or standing in slouched positions for any extended period of time puts extreme stress on your back and neck. At first this pain may just be short and acute. However, over time poor posture can do as much as completely misalign your spine.
Low energy levels – The shallow breathing created by bad posture causes our energy levels to lower greatly.
Lack of oxygen flow throughout the body – The lungs function correctly when the diaphragm and rib cage properly expand. In essence, having poor posture restricts blood and oxygen flow because the expansion isn’t happening correctly.
Migraines and tension headaches – migraines and tension headaches are most commonly seen in people who spend all day working at a desk. The strain placed on the body from holding oneself incorrectly makes a person vulnerable to migraines and tension headaches. The lack of blood and oxygen flow to the head is also a component of this type of pain.
Heart problems – The muscle strain and poor posture of the spine and rib cage negatively impact your heart health. This is mostly because of the lack of blood flow that occurs when you hunch over for extended periods of time. Also, any type of misalignment of your spine has the trickle down effect on other parts of your body.
Digestion issues – Sitting for most of the day starts to constrict your intestines. The constriction of your intestines can make digestion a big problem. Poor posture has been attributed to issues like acid reflux and hernias.
Lack of confidence – Many studies have shown a connection between someone who slouches and a lack of confidence. Often times these studies take it a step further saying that people who slouch are more likely to suffer from depression, stating people who slouch when they walk tend to experience increased feelings of depression and decrease levels of energy. You can find out more information in this excellent article, “How Posture Affects Memory Recall and Mood” by Peper, I-Mei Lin, Richard Harvey and Jacob Perez
A Bad Posture and How to Correct Your Body Posture (Alignment)
Poor posture can come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. Everyone has their own way of incorrectly holding their posture. However, some posture issues are more common than others. My hope is that at the end of this series you will have a firm understanding of how to correct posture deviations including fixing sway back posture.
If you haven’t been paying attention to your posture, it’s probably a given that you have no idea how misaligned your body might be. If you’re not sure whether your posture is good or if it needs a little work, do this standing assessment first:
Put on form-fitting clothes so you can see your alignment. Stand barefoot, tall but comfortable, without trying to force yourself into what you think is perfect posture. To get an honest assessment, close your eyes and march slowly in place a few times. This will allow your feet to turn in and out naturally. Bring your body to a stop and stand still. Have a friend take a full body picture of you from the front, the side, and behind.
Here’s what a properly postured body should look like:
STANDING ASSESSMENT POSTURAL DEVIATIONS
Back, Shoulders, Hips, And Head
If your body doesn’t look aligned, you might have one or more of the following postural deviations. Here’s how to spot these deviations and the stretches and strengthening exercises you can do to fix them
DEVIATION 1: SWAY BACK
Hips Press Forward And Sit In Front Of The Ribs
Overactive muscles: Hamstrings, gluteus maximus and medius, erector spinae, and quadratus lumborum (glutes, hamstrings, and low back)
Stretches: Runner’s stretch, world’s greatest stretch, seated glute stretch, lying crossover, hamstring stretch, hamstring self-myofascial release (foam rolling)
Underactive muscles: Iliopsoas, external obliques, and rectus femoris (hip flexors and lower abs)
Strengthening exercises: Cocoon, exercise ball pull-in, hanging leg raise, scissor kick
Here is a video log of some of the stretches mentioned above
Seated Glute Stretch
Here is a video log of some Strengthening Exercises as mentioned above
Exercise Ball Pull-In
Hanging leg raise
These exercise and stretches will help you manage or avert sway back. That said, remember to always check with your doctor before engaging in a new exercise routine. Also, you should never exert yourself especially when exercising. Always take care to avoid sudden motions that jerk your body. You want to move in a smooth comfortable fashion. The “no pain, no gain” mentality is a good way to end up in the hospital.
Posture can be improved, and the sooner the better. The longer incorrect positioning, is maintained, the more it feels right to the body. Pulling back into alignment may feel awkward and uncomfortable at first. However, I hope that this post will help you adjust without much drama. As I said, this is a series so you will have the information to adjust quickly and safely. To start, you now know how to fix sway back.
Peper, Erik, et al. “How Posture Affects Memory Recall and Mood.” Biofeedback, vol. 45, no. 2, 2017, p. 36+