Your posture is essentially the way your body is stacked together in its relaxed state, and is a result of gravity, skeletal structure and muscle tone. Good posture is vital to make your body function at its peak, in terms of physical activity, health and general appearance.
Have you ever looked at someone walking along with their head hanging between their shoulders? Or little old ladies who have a dowager’s hump? Or teenage girls who tend to stand with their hips thrust forward and their mid back slumped back, but their shoulders sitting forward, hiding their chest?
Compare that to models who stand tall and well aligned, with shoulder placed down and back and chin up, eyes confidently forward.
Not only do people with great posture look more attractive, but they enjoy good blood and oxygen circulation to their body structures and their brain, and they don’t strain single areas when performing functional tasks – the load is spread evenly throughout a range of muscles and joints, preventing injury.
Your posture can be off in a variety of different ways but the most common is to have the shoulders sitting forward, chin jutting forward and hips forward, so here are a few exercises that can help combat these problems!
Cable Seated Row
Choose an appropriate weight to work with, and sit up straight with your knees unlocked, shoulders set down and back and hips at 90 degrees. Your lower back should not be slouched at all, in fact your bottom should be sticking out. Tuck the chin slightly. There are many attachments to choose from and in a general sense it doesn’t matter too much which one you choose, they will just vary the bias of which muscles do the work in the mid back and shoulders, but if you choose a different one each time you will be well rounded. Pull the handle towards your stomach, squeezing your shoulder blades together behind you, hold for 1 second and then slowly return the weight to the starting position. Always keep the shoulders down and back. Repeat 3 sets of 12.
This works the large supportive muscles of the upper half of the back. Select an appropriate weight, take a wide grip on the bar (think Y out of the YMCA dance), sit down anchoring your knees under the padding (adjust height if necessary). Tuck the chin slightly. Push your chest out and squeeze under your armpits as if you are being tickled. Use that as the start to continue the rest of the motion, pulling your elbows down and back and taking the bar to your breastbone. Hold 1 second and then return to your starting position, being sure to let go from under the armpits last, not first. Repeat 3 sets of 12.
The plank works your deep core muscles (as well as many others), your shoulder stabilisers and your neck posture. It must be done with the correct shape and correct muscles firing or it’s a waste of time. Facing downwards, prop yourself up on your elbows and stiffen your body like a board, lifting onto your toes. Your hips should be aligned with the rest of your body so you are in a straight line from the shoulders to the heels. No bums in the sky or sagging! Your low back should be SLIGHTLY arched but not sagging at all. Your shoulder blades shouldn’t be sticking out from your back – press your elbows into the floor. Ensure your head is in line with your body, not sagging or chin jutting out. Hold it as long as you can maintain a perfect shape, and then rest. Repeat 5 times.
If you experience pain that niggles and bothers you long term without a specific injury that happened, it is likely that your problem is a result of poor posture, which can come about from a variety of habits and activities.
These exercises are certainly not exhaustive and may not be quite what you need as an individual, so we recommend that you see one of our trainers and have an assessment performed to make sure you’re doing the right exercises for you!