Good posture is a crucial for both good performance and good health but its importance is often overlooked. Long hours holding poor postures can cause muscle pain and contribute to injury. Stiff rounded shoulders can be due to an increased curvature of the upper back from slouching or having tight chest muscles pulling the shoulders forward and rotating them inwards. A forward head posture will lead to neck pain and headaches from tight muscles and restricted nerves from the neck and upper back.
Anterior tilt of the pelvis caused by tight hip flexors can stress the lumbar spine resulting in low back pain as well as stretching of the hamstrings and sciatic nerves. This can also force the thigh into internal rotation twisting the knee and placing stress on the lateral thigh (outside), most notably the ilio-tibial-band (ITB). These areas become shortened and usually implicated in cases of lateral knee pain. This in turn twists the lower leg and is associated with over-pronation of the foot (flat feet). If you have flat feet and need orthotics it maybe due to your posture! Fix your posture to reduce injury risk and improve your performance.
So how do you know if any of this applies to you? First look at the following pictures then ask someone to photograph you standing, from the front and sides, then compare yourself to the pictures.
From the side:
Can you draw a straight line between the ankles, knees, hips, shoulder, and jaw joints?
Are your knees locked straight? If they are bent you may have a rotation of the thighs.
Is your waistband horizontal or does it tilt forward or back? If it tilts forward you have anterior tilt of the pelvis.
Look at your lower back, is there a minimal curve or is it exaggerated like in the pictures above?
Do your arms hang naturally by your side or are they in front and rotated inwards?
Is your chest out or is the upper back rounded?
Finally look at your head, is there a straight line from the middle of the shoulder to the ear, or are you sticking your chin forward?
From the front:
Can you draw a straight line between your hips, knee-cap, and 2nd toe?
Do you have natural arches in the feet or are they flattened?
Do your feet point forwards or are they rotated?
Are the kneecaps facing forwards or are they twisted in/out?
Look at your hands, are the palms facing your sides or backwards due to the shoulders rotating inwards?
The chances are, due to modern life, you spend too much time sat down. Whether that is in the car, at your desk at work, or watching TV. One our of ‘movement’ in the gym will not be enough to undo the 10 hours of sitting each day. Try to get up and move around every 20 minutes and roughly every 10 minutes check your posture by sitting tall and opening up the chest by rotating the arms so the palms face forwards. Assess your workstation and chairs, are they helping you maintain good posture or encouraging you to adopt slouched or twisted positions? If needs be you should arrange to have a workplace assessment carried out.
Once you’ve identified any flaws in your posture you need to take action. This maybe as simple as being more aware of how you sit, stand and walk. But if you find there are any particular areas which are too tight, or too weak then it is best to seek expert advice from our resident Physio at the SPA hotel and then follow up with one of the personal training team at the gym on how to construct a corrective exercise routine to iron out these flaws in the safest and most effective manner.