Have you ever thought about why posture is so important? Ideal posture is when the musculoskeletal system functions at its best.
Take weightlifting, for example. Slouching while you bicep curl can put unnecessary strain on your back since your rounded shoulders are pulling at the muscles on your back side. Add in the extra dumbbell weight, and your back muscles are working overtime to keep you upright, which can cause pain when all you wanted was a stronger bicep.
The same goes for higher-impact workouts like running. Mile after mile of jogging with poor form can repetitively pound micro -trauma into your into your muscles and joints and lead to overuse injury. If this sounds familiar, that’s because it’s extremely common — research shows that most fitness-related injuries are due to overexertion , according to a 2015 survey of thousands of ER patients, and one main culprit behind overexertion is having orther muscles overcompensate if one is shortened (from, you guessed it, improper posture).
Bad posture can lead to numerous muscular imbalances. Upper Cross Syndrome is an imbalance between the flexors and extensors of the trunk.
This is often seen in people who spend a lot of time hunched over a computer all day. Or, for those who do a lot of abdominal crunches without exercising the back. It’s important to counterbalance the flexion of the abdominals.
As the abdominal muscles become stronger than their antagonists, the following imbalances in the body occur:
- Short and tight upper abdominals
- Depressed Sternum
- Forward head
- Increased thoracic kyphosis
Take a look at the lower half of the body. Lower Cross Syndrome is a shortening of the lumbar erectors, ilipsoas, rectus femoris and tensor fascia latae with lengthening of the lower abdominal musculature, hamstrings, thoracic extensors and superficial cervical flexors. Basically you’ll look like you have a Donald Duck butt.
This type of posture is usually seen in people who spend most of their on the seated machines at gyms. The machines lock you into a sagittal plane, yet you function daily in multiple planes: transverse, frontal and sagittal.
- Transverse: rotational
- Frontal: side to side
- Sagittal: forward and backward
Exercising in one plane weakens your smaller muscular stabilizers, which may cause injuries when you do movements such as lifting a grocery bag. You might strain your back, or worse, slip a disc.
Next time you go to the gym, ask a personal trainer to do a body assessment on you. This will help you learn how to correct your posture and begin exercising with the correct form.