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At PFTA Austin, in addition to teaching students hands on learning with equipment in the gym, we teach students how to fix or correct common conditions that can lead to pain, discomfort, and injury.

Previously, we discussed the importance of breathing and how without a proper tight core, you can create repetitive strains and injuries.

Are You a Sloucher or Do You Stand Tall?

When standing or walking, does your posture look more like left or right Justin?

Ninety percent of personal training clients we meet, have a variation of upper crossed syndrome because of their daily activities. The majority of these people experience this syndrome because of working with technology – sitting at a desk or with a device in hand – for extended periods of time.

The Sloucher

In the image of Justin slouching, you can see how disengaged the posterior, or backside, is and the resulting effect on the body. If we had another angle, you might also notice knees and ankles turning in.

What Does it Mean?

Depending on the person, the results of a slouched body could include:

  • Headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Core discomfort including the ribs
  • Back pain
  • Hip pain
  • Upper body weakness
  • Knee pain
  • Foot pain
  • Lower body weakness

In addition to the items above, a sloucher is simply going to be prone to injuries. Injuries will occur because their backside is dormant and their core is weak. Anyone with this posture, will have difficulties doing basic things, such as getting up and down, picking things up, reaching, walking, or assisting others.

Standing Tall

In the image of Justin standing tall, his shoulders are pulled back and his chest is up, helping straighten his neck. His glutes and core are also engaged pulling his hips into neutral.

By making these changes while standing, Justin has taken the pressure off his anterior, or frontside. This change in posture means that his entire body is engaged. If he were to trip or lose his balance, he is less likely to strain a muscle or hit the ground because his body is not anterior dominant or dealing with a forward momentum situation.

How Can You Stand Tall?

If you happen to have a desk job, get up! Get a standing desk to straighten your hips, but also get moving. Find ways to stretch your chest, activate your back, and loosen up.

The Effect at the Gym

If you don’t take the steps to fix the poor posture, you are guaranteed to experience problems in the gym. While it might not be obvious, in addition to the back-focused exercises of rows and pull downs, your back is extremely important for the following exercises:

  • Shoulder press
  • Shoulder raises
  • Front raises
  • Chest press
  • Push ups
  • Bicep curls
  • Hammer curls
  • Front squats
  • Back squats
  • Goblet squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Planks
  • Step ups

Does this surprise you? If you think about the focus of an exercise and how the body is used, a strong back is required. For example, if you don’t have a strong back, how can your shoulders support weight above your body? If you don’t have a strong back, how can your rotator cuff act safely as a stabilizer for anything chest, shoulders, or back?

Notice the inclusion of the lower body exercises? Many lower body exercises involve placing weight on the upper part of the body or lifting it off the ground. If you don’t activate your back and core for squats, then you are likely to tilt forward and get injured. When executing a deadlift, if you don’t engage your back/lats to get the weight posterior focused, you run the risk of anterior strain because your chest is bearing the weight of the bar, pulling your shoulders and everything else forward.

If you are interested in becoming a certified personal trainer or would like to partner with PFTA Austin to help educate personal trainers, we would love to hear from you!

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