What’s up Gronk Fitness!
If you are reading this blog, chances are that you too have come to face the serious consequences of bad posture in your athletic potential. We are willing to bet that if you also knew the toll that bad postures takes on your health and your mood, you would be doing everything in your power to fix it.
In this article, we will talk about how to create proper, solid posture and we’ll also discuss the reasons why your posture has declined over the years. Besides, if you only treat the symptoms, it will keep coming back, never really going away for good.
What Is Considered Improper Posture?
In most cases, people with bad posture can tell simply by looking at their body in the mirror from the side. If your shoulders are rounded forward, your upper back is excessively curved instead of straight and your spine is collapsing instead of standing up proudly, there is no denying that your posture needs work.
An improper posture can also become apparent from weird headaches and dizziness that you can’t seem to explain and also from stiff shoulders and traps as well as numbness in the arms oρ aches in the chest. Don’t worry, it has nothing to do with your heart. It’s just the nerves in your spine that are crushed by your slouching vertebrae and overly tight muscles that send pain signals to surrounding areas, namely your arms and chest.
How Is Bad Posture Caused?
Well, sometimes poor posture is the result of accidents and injuries. But more often than not, sloppy posture is caused from environmental factors and bad habits that are entirely within your own control.
Of course, other factors can be at play here, such as poor sleep support, occupational stress and improper shoes, but the biggest cause of poor posture undoubtedly stems from prolonged sitting and bad habits in general. Prolonged sitting inevitably leads to slouching and comes with a host of other problems that are typical of poor posture, including:
- Muscle and joint damage
- Suboptimal heart, lung and organ function
- Decreased mood and mood swings
- Less strength and endurance, and overall reduced athletic performance
How To Gradually Improve Your Posture
Showing you a few stretches, which we’ll do in a bit, can definitely help alleviate the symptoms of poor posture but only temporarily. What we want to do is focus on building proper habits throughout the day, regardless of the activity you’re performing.
It doesn’t matter if your deadlift and squat are performed properly; they only last for a few minutes a day, if not less. If however, your job revolves mostly around sitting or standing, you could be prone to bad posture for 8 or more hours every single day.
So how do you adopt a good posture? Well, first and foremost, you have to figure out a way to keep reminding yourself to keep “fixing” your posture once in a while. You could even set an alarm to go off every 30 minutes to remind you to stand up straight and stop slouching. Do whatever you have to do.
Ideally, when you’re standing for prolonged period of time you want:
- Your head to be in a neutral position looking straight ahead at all times.
- Your weight primarily on the balls of your feet
- Your knees slightly bent and your feet shoulder width a part
- Your arms hang natural down the sides of your body
- Stand up straight and tall with your shoulder pulled backward
- Tuck your stomach in
- Do not push your head forward, backward or to the side
- Shift your weight from your toes to your heels or one foot to the other, if you have to stand for a long time
Ideally, when you’re sitting for a prolonged period of time you want:
- Your head to be in neutral position looking straight ahead
- Your shoulders relaxed with your elbows at your sides and bent at 90 degrees
- Your forearms parallel to the floor
- Don’t lean forward with your chest
- Your feet should be flat on the floor, not cross-legged as that can lead you to slouch
Those guidelines will serve you well in the long run, but what about right now? Well, there a few stretches that you should be doing at least 2-3 times a day to alleviate tightness, trigger points and various pains and aches throughout your body. Ideally, you could be doing these stretches for 5 minutes every hour or so, or during your breaks.
Stretch #1 – Thoracic Spine Opener
For this stretch you will definitely need a foam roller. If you don’t already own a foam roller, you should definitely get one as soon as possible, as this is probably the most beneficial stretch you could be doing to reverse your poor posture.
Lie with your mid back against the foam roller and push through your feet to roll your back up and down from your neck to your lower back. Foam rolling your lower back is not necessary and it can be dangerous so try to avoid it. Focus only on your upper and mid back and traps. You can make it easier by placing your hands behind your head or more intense if you try to touch the ground behind your head with your palms.
This stretch will really open up your thoracic spine, create spinal extension and definitely reverse the effect of prolonged sitting or standing with a poor posture.
Stretch #2 – Chest Stretch On Wall
Since tight chest is the main symptom of a poor posture, you should definitely try to stretch out your chest as often as you can. Stand by a doorway or a pole of some sorts, place your palm against that solid surface and turn your body away from it.
Hold for 30 – 60 seconds for both arms and repeat for a total of 2-3 sets. Again, the more often you do this, the more benefits you will reap from the stretch over time.
Stretch #3 – Band Pull-Aparts
Now, this exercise is more of a strengthening movement than a stretch. However, it will stretch out the chest, biceps and front deltoids while working on your weak rear deltoids and upper back. It requires the use of a simple stretch band which you can always get from GronkFitnessProducts.com.
Simply hold the band in front of your chest and pull it apart using your upper back and shoulders. Make sure you are not shrugging your shoulders or rounding your upper back. Perform this exercise for 20 – 30 repetitions and 3 – 4 sets, at least 1 -2 times every day.
Fixing Your Posture – Not Just A Physical Feat
Correcting your poor posture is not difficult. It just requires patience and persistence. At this point , we should also mention that fixing your posture is not just a physical feat. It’s also mental. Envision what good posture feels like, instill it into your mind and your body will follow.
Don’t forget to perform the three stretches when you have some free time, adopt the changes we discussed above and most importantly…get your mind right.