Now it’s time to explore some corrective exercise strategies and simple ergonomics that will help improve poor posture.
Remember that there are several poor posture patterns, as seen in a side view in image 1 and front view in image 2. That’s why it is vitally important that you get a postural assessment to determine your postural pattern.
However, there are some common imbalances which most people share: rounded shoulders, forward head, and a flat or over-arched (kyphotic or lordotic) lower back.
First, I will cover the common postural imbalances, including the muscles that are prone to being short-tight and long-weak (table 1). Then I’ll cover some stretches or strengthening exercises to consider.
At the end I will discuss some simple ergonomic tips to help you while sit and stand for prolonged periods.
Corrective Exercise Strategies
The stretching exercises I recommend in this article and video are not to be done if you currently have pain, unusual tightness, or are injured. I will include a few strengthening exercises based on the fact that one size does not fit all. It is vitally important that you are assessed by a qualified fitness professional or physical therapist before making any corrections. You want to make sure that you are choosing the right corrective exercises for your needs based on your assessment. The stretches recommended in this article only represent two of the many types of stretching out there. Also, certain types of stretches work for different situations, that’s why getting assessed first is your best choice.
Static Stretching vs. Movement-Based Stretching/Active Isolated Stretching
Numerous scientific studies have shown that static stretching (which involves holding the stretch for 15 to 20 seconds) before a workout does not prevent overuse injuries and in fact may hinder athletic performance. In contrast, movement-based stretching, also called active isolated stretching involves moving the joints through their full range of motion in a slow and controlled manner and holding for only 2 to 3 seconds.
The active isolated stretching technique, developed by Kinesiotherapist Aaron Mattes, is known to work with the body’s natural physiology to improve circulation and increase the elasticity of muscle joints and fascia.
Foam rolling before you stretch is optimal but not always necessary. Foam rolling has many benefits, some of which include getting rid of adhesion’s in your muscles, or what most people refer to as “knots,” which are actually thick bundles of muscle fiber.
Let’s join Brian as he further discusses and demonstrates tips for correcting poor posture.
A Holistic Approach to Sitting and Standing Ergonomic Postures
Whether at home, in your office, standing, or while driving, maintaining ideal posture is very important. Back- and neck-friendly posture is a valuable component of preventing or managing posture and preventing injury. Incorrect postures while standing for long periods of time, sitting in an office chair, and driving are all common causes of poor posture.
Sitting or standing for prolonged periods can be very stressful on your joints and muscles. Whether you have a standing or sitting work station, you would benefit from taking a break from these postures. For example, take a walk after being stationary for more than 30 minutes, or switch to sitting if you have been standing and vice versa.
Let’s say you have a flat lower back and rounded shoulder posture pattern, a small pillow or rolled towel behind your lower back directly behind your belly button would help maintain a healthy, normal curve in your lower spine. You can do this for driving, as well as for sitting in general.
The best advice is first to get assessed to determine your posture pattern. Second, take that information and give it to someone who specializes workplace ergonomics. Image 5 shows there are standards to setting up a seated work station. Click on the image to read and learn more about workplace ergonomics.
- Use a comfortable, adjustable chair and make modifications as you change postures.
- Rest your eyes by occasionally focusing on an object 20-plus feet (6 m) away.
- Stand and stretch your back and arms from time to time.
- Give your neck a break by positioning your screen or work materials directly in front of you to avoid turning your head too much.
- Even if your workstation is set up correctly, you still can get tired from staying in the same position for too long, so don’t forget to move every 30 minutes when possible.
I hope you enjoyed this three-part series on the importance of ideal posture as much as I did research and writing it. I hope it serves you and your body well.
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