How many of you were told to stand up straight as a kid? Maybe it was a school teacher or your grandma that said it. Maybe it wasn’t said enough. Now days it seems most of us spend a lot of time with our faces in our phones. Not that there’s anything wrong with technology, I use it all the time. But there are some things wrong with how we use it and maybe how much time we spend on it. As human beings we create new habits very easily, and one very bad habit almost all of us gain at one time or another is bad posture.
Believe it or not posture was taught in almost every school less than 100 years ago. When public schools became more prevalent and eventually required in the early 20th century. Many people thought the system of making children sit in desks for hours at a time was detrimental to their health and well being. The school desk itself was even blamed for abnormalities of the spine due to the child being forced to sit for prolonged periods. This sounds like something from a modern chiropractic or physical therapy study but these are common sense ideas that concerned parents picked up on early. Today children suffer from the same and even more postural problems like slouching which can lead to Lumbo Pelvic Hip Complex Dysfunction, a sway back and anterior pelvic tilt, which eventually lead to chronic low back pain if left unchecked. Modern postural problems include cell phone neck or a forward head and shoulders due to constantly leaning down looking at something.
Thankfully though many postural problems, and much of the pain associated with them can be prevented and even reversed, through a good total body strengthening program and a conscious effort to maintain good posture whenever possible. As a personal trainer I find that a big part of my job is to be the posture police. Not only is posture very important in our every day lives but it is extremely important at the gym. If you have never had a trainer show you the proper way to perform an exercise, for all you know you may have been doing it wrong for a very long time. Not performing an exercise properly can not only lead to a less effective workout but it can even cause more harm than good. Take the bench press for example. For years, before I became a trainer, I just benched how I thought I saw other people do it. More often than not they were probably doing it wrong themselves. I never even knew there was a right way to bench. With cues like keep your shoulders back and down to create a more stable base to press from, or placing your hands in the right place, and using a good bar path, you can not only save yourself from future shoulder problems, but even bench more weight with better form!
If you have suffered with back, neck or shoulder pain for a long time, chances are it may be posture related. An experienced fitness professional can assess these postural issues and help you to correct them. Or maybe you’re a life long gym rat that never had anyone show you the proper form for your favorite exercises and you want to burst through some plateaus, your local trainer can help! But at the very least listen to your grandma’s advice, create new habits, and STAND UP STRAIGHT KID!