Humans are evolving and improving in many ways; posture and performance however is not one of them.
No, in terms of our body’s actual functionality, as a western culture, we’re actually regressing.
Hours leaning over a computer, slouching behind the wheel of a car, lazing in front of Netflix, and being generally less active than our ancestors.
But, is this a big deal?
Within this blog we’re going to examine the most common postural problems we, as a species, encounter, and we’ll discuss how to fix these imbalances.
Because a poorly functioning body, and messed up posture does a great many negative things to our wellbeing, such as:
- Massively increased chance of injury
- Decreased ability to exercise (therefore lower chance of losing body fat)
- Reduced ability to build muscle (due to our range of motion being limited)
- It causes aches, pains, and millions of audible groans nationwide, as we attempt to stand from our office chairs.
There is a worrying trend to accept these bodily aches, and lack of mobility; to put it down to just ‘getting old’.
But that’s just no true…
Yes, if we remain inactive and insist on spending hours on end sitting, then our posture and bodies are going to slowly deteriorate.
If we tackle the issue head on with physical exercise however?
That’s how we build physiques that not only look amazing, but feel amazing too.
Common Posture Issue Number One
Weak and Injury Prone Shoulders (AKA, ‘Desk Posture’)
There is actual one structural problem that afflicts both office workers, and “Gym Bros” equally- and that is having a forward leaning posture that results in your resembling a cashew nut tying it’s shoelaces.
“Gym Bros” craft this physique through hours and hours of time spent bench pressing, with little regard to the muscles they can’t see in the mirror.
The average office worker gets this issue from hours and hours leaning forward in front of a computer.
Tight chest, anterior deltoids (front of your shoulders) and upper trapezius muscles.
No muscle is an island- if one group of muscles is tight, then it’s counterpart will be lengthened and weaker- in this case, the tight muscles at the front of your upper body will cause weakening your mid trapezius, rhomboids and rear deltoid muscles – the group of muscles which make up your upper back.
So, what’s the issue with this?
You mean aside from causing you to look chronically hunched over (losing at least an inch of height)?
You’ll also be far more prone to injury, both when exercising, and when reaching across the table to grab a stapler.
Have you ever noticed your upper back being sore after a long day? Or a pinch in your shoulder joint as you’re behind the wheel of a car?
Yep, that’s not just a ‘sign of getting older’- it’s something we can change.
So, how do we fix this shoulder issue?
We get to the gym, and stick with a 2:1 ratio of horizontal pulling to pressing.
Exercises where we’re contracting and strengthening our upper back, such as:
- Face Pulls
- Band Pull Aparts
- TRX Rows
- Inverted Rows
- Reverse Cable Flyes
- Active Chest Stretches
Are all fantastic ways to ensure your fix your posture, start standing upright, and finally have well-functioning shoulders.
Would you like a consult to go over exactly how we can programme in some exercises to address this issue? Contact me today at http://figr8fitness.com/contact/ so we can set you up with a FREE programme.
Common Posture Issue Number Two
Weak Glutes (your butt Isn’t doing what’s it’s supposed to)
Nobody likes to hear they have a lazy ass… buuuut in this instance it’s probably true.
Remember earlier we were talking about no muscle being an island? About how a single muscle group being tight will cause it’s opposing muscle group to become weak?
Well, that same principle is causing your butt to misfire, or, fail to fire at all most likely.
If you’re sitting right now, check out your posture.
See how you (probably) have a 90 degree or so bend at the hip?
That position (which most of us are in a great deal of the time) causes your hip flexors (the muscles running down the front of your thighs, responsible for bringing your knee towards your chest) to tighten up, which in turn decreases the functionality of your glutes.
From a training perspective, this is terrible- especially if you have aspirations to build a Beyonce butt, or fill out your board shorts for an upcoming holiday.
And from a postural perspective it can cause an unpleasant pelvic tilt, and cause lower back pain.
I’m guessing you’ve felt that yourself after a long day of sitting in a car or aero plane?
So, what are the greatest ways to offset this issue?
- Glute Bridges
- Banded X-Walks
- Single Leg Strength Work (lunges, step ups etc)
- Active Hip Flexor Stretches
If you’ve noticed back or hip pain after a long day in the office, and want a little more guidance on how to set up a training programme to help offset that, and balanced out your posture and physique, get in touch with me at http://figr8fitness.com/contact/, and we’ll get you on the right track
Common Posture Issue Number Three
This, you’ll have probably noticed.
One of the most common (and somewhat flawed) methods people often use to judge their flexibility, is to touch their toes (or attempt to).
Whilst this isn’t the most effective way to gather an entire overview of a person’s mobility, it’s not without merit.
And quite often the reason they’re several inches away from actually touching their toes is, very tight hamstrings.
Anybody want to have a guess at what exactly might be causing that issue?
You got it- spending too long sitting, and not enough time exercising and moving.
And, as with the glutes, this imbalance often manifests itself in back pain, as the tight hamstrings pull on the pelvis, and puts undue stress on the muscles and structure of the spine.
Helpful ways to solve this issue are mostly through large compound movements that encourage a well-balanced functionality of the lower limbs, such as:
- Goblet Squats
- Walking Lunges
- Back Squats
Alongside hamstring mobility work (and possibly end range deadlift variants for injury prevention); as always, if you’re keen to know exactly how to programme this into your training routine then get in contact with me at http://figr8fitness.com/contact/ , and I’ll give you the roadmap to your goals (whilst helping fix your posture
So, exercises aside, what else can we do to avoid developing postural issues?
Whilst the correct exercises are going to have a huge impact on your posture and health, there are also changes you can make in your everyday life to help as well, such as:
- Set up a ‘get up and move’ alarm’ every 60 minutes or so
As we’ve covered throughout this blog-sitting for long periods of time is awful for you.
Whilst it would be easier to just tell you to ‘move around the office more’, I’ve found that such instructions work great to begin with, but quickly fall by the wayside on a busy day.
Instead, have an alarm on your phone that’s set up to go off every day, at 60-90 minute intervals.
As soon as the alarms sounds, get up, stretch if you can, and do a quick lap or two of the office.
This will do wonders to help offset sitting-related postural issues.
(Bonus tip- you can also use this method to make sure you’re drinking enough water- sip on a 500ml bottle as you walk around the office).
2) If You Can Work Standing? Do it!
Whether this means you can get a fancy standing desk, walk around with a tablet, or you give yourself the ‘must stand up for every phone call’ rule- it’s going to have a big impact on how your body functions.
3) Stop Driving Everywhere
Try walking for 20 to 30 minutes at least a couple of times a week.
If you take the bus or public transport? Get off a few stops earlier and stretch your legs.
Summer time? Take advantage of the weather and take out the bike (it’ll actually be faster than driving in many busy cities).
Not only will this, in conjunction with the exercise, help you build a bulletproof posture- it’s also going to contribute to fat loss, improved heath, and cognitive function.
We aren’t meant to sit all day and let our physiques regress- it’s not just a ‘part of getting older’- you have the chance to turn back that clock. So what are you waiting for?