Insider’s Guide to Posture Correction
The opinions expressed in this eBook are strictly our own, and should not be construed as the opinion of a medical professional.
The material in this eBook is provided for informational purposes only. It is general information that may not apply to you as an individual and it is not a substitute for your own doctor’s medical care or advice.
The information in this eBook has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This eBook is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or injury.
While our advice has been gathered from medical professionals and certified personal trainers, we do not claim to be medical professionals. And because of this, we ask that you do not us for medical advice, as we are not qualified to answer those types of questions.
CHAPTER 1: WHY POSTURE IS IMPORTANT?
93% of Communication Is Non-Verbal
Renowned UCLA Psychology Professor, Dr. Albert Mehrabian, unveiled a fascinating discovery: only 7% of our interactions are based on verbal communication.
The rest? A dramatic dance of body language, contributing to 55%, and the melodic undertones of our voice, making up 38%.
Over half of what we “say” is spoken silently through our body’s movements and stance. How’s that for the power of the unspoken?
Imagine this: you’re slouched, head drooping, shoulders hunched and curved inwards. What story does your posture tell?
Does it shout “I’m confident and proud!” or whisper “I’m uncertain”?
Do you look like someone brimming with joy, ready to conquer challenges?
Remember, it’s not just about the words escaping your lips or the tone you use.
Science backs it up—your stance and posture often scream louder than your words. So, stand tall and let your posture do the talking!
Picture this: You’ve been eagerly awaiting a job interview for weeks. You’ve done your homework, revamped your resume, and know you’re the best fit. You’re armed with unparalleled knowledge and experience.
But, in preparing so diligently, you’ve spent countless hours hunched over your computer. As the day arrives, you notice your posture has taken a hit—there’s a noticeable slouch, and your shoulders sag.
You brush it off, believing that your skills and expertise will shine through. The interview feels successful, and you leave hoping for that confirmation call.
On your way out, in walks a familiar face: a guy with a towering posture, beaming with confidence. You’re aware of his skills and, without a doubt, you have the upper hand. But there’s no denying his presence.
Days turn into a week, and the dreaded email arrives: they’ve chosen someone else. To add salt to the wound, a friend at the company reveals the confident guy bagged the job.
While you might’ve beaten him in skill and expertise, he had that unspoken edge. The moral? Sometimes, it’s not just what you bring to the table, but how you present yourself at it.
Stand tall, because your posture can sometimes make a louder statement than your resume.
Hearing that you missed out on the job was a gut punch, especially when you were so confident in your credentials.
Ever wonder if, despite saying all the right things, your body was screaming something entirely different?
You had the experience, the knowledge, but maybe, just maybe, your body betrayed you, projecting doubt and hesitation instead of competence.
Consider this: What if your competitor, with his commanding presence, was radiating efficiency and confidence?
It’s crucial to grasp that often, we broadcast messages we aren’t even aware of. In the scenario described, you didn’t intend to exude hesitancy, yet your body language might’ve conveyed just that.
The takeaway? It’s essential to be in charge of every signal you emit, both spoken and silent. Ponder how transformative it’d be if you consistently exuded positive vibes.
Ready to turn your posture from a detriment to an asset? Stick around, because the guidance ahead promises to reshape not just your posture, but potentially your entire life.
Picture the human body as an intricate piece of machinery, each component meticulously designed to function in harmony. Just like with any advanced apparatus, alignment is key.
Imagine your body’s misalignment as a car with off-kilter wheels. Initially, this might seem inconsequential. You can still drive, perhaps even for thousands of miles. However, eventually, the misalignment will lead to wear and tear, resulting in mechanical failures.
Similarly, if our body’s “machinery” isn’t aligned correctly, each movement, especially in this skewed stance, amplifies stress on the joints, accelerating the path to injury. For me, this insight was a game-changer, offering clarity on my susceptibility to injuries.
When we juxtapose our body’s misalignments to a misaligned car wheel, it paints a vivid picture. A misaligned wheel might not halt your journey instantly, but over time, the wear and tear will manifest, leading to potential breakdowns.
Now, considering the mechanical view of poor posture, let’s pivot to understanding its hormonal implications.
Posture & Hormones: The Surprising Link
Dive into 2012 when Harvard Business School embarked on a riveting study exploring the world of “power posing.” They delved deep, investigating how distinct postures influenced our hormonal landscape.
The results? Astounding. Striking confident poses, marked by open chests and broadened shoulders, had the power to elevate testosterone levels by a whopping 25% and reduce cortisol (the notorious stress hormone) by 20%—all in just two minutes.
Now, you might be thinking, “What’s the big deal about testosterone?” Often dubbed the ‘dominance hormone,’ it’s a key player in shaping traits like confidence, energy, and assertiveness. Although termed a ‘male hormone,’ both genders produce it, with men having a tad more.
On the flip side, cortisol, our stress sentinel, can wreak havoc when it surges. An excess leads to heightened stress and anxiety—feelings most of us would gladly curb.
The study painted a clear picture: Stand tall, and you might just feel more dominant and less stressed. Slouch, and the reverse happens: diminished confidence paired with heightened stress.
Recall our job interview scenario? Your competitor, exuding confidence with his upright posture, had the hormonal upper hand, entering the room primed for calm assertiveness.
In contrast, your slumped stature might have set you up for a cortisol spike and reduced confidence—placing you on the back foot before a word was even spoken.
So here’s the crux: Poor posture not just silently sabotages your messaging and predisposes you to injury, but also plays puppeteer with your hormones—ramping up stress and diminishing confidence.
Isn’t it time you made posture your top priority? If this doesn’t propel you into action, what will?
CHAPTER 2: WHAT’S BEHIND THAT SLOUCH?
When it comes to the miscreants messing with our posture, several usual suspects crop up. Here are some of the main culprits:
- Excessive Sitting
- Imbalanced Strength Training & Poor Movement Patterns
- Ignorance of Proper Postural Positioning
- Bearing the Burden of Distress or Depression
You might be wondering, “How do hours at the desk relate to an uneven workout regimen or emotional upheaval?”
The connecting thread here is the sneaky creation of muscular imbalances. This involves some muscles becoming too taut and strong, while others lag, elongated and feeble. Remember, our muscles are intricately linked to our bones via tendons, and they significantly shape our posture.
Visualize this: Picture your shoulders being tugged downward and forward by invisible rubber bands. Now, try achieving a straight-backed, upright posture. A tough task, isn’t it? This rubber band tug-of-war mimics how our muscles can pull our joints out of alignment.
How Too Much Sitting Wrecks Your Posture
Setting aside the startling realization that our ancestors weren’t accustomed to sitting like we do, it’s evident that sitting, especially for prolonged periods, is doing us no favors.
Let’s break it down:
At its core, our body is a remarkable adaptive machine. The tissues, including muscles and fascia, morph and adjust to the consistent positions they find themselves in.
The longer you maintain a posture, the more these tissues adapt, either by shortening or lengthening.
Envision this: When you’re seated, your hips bend. This seemingly innocent posture causes the hip flexing muscles to tighten and become overactive, while the opposite muscles, responsible for straightening the hips, stretch out and weaken.
This tug-of-war between the muscles leads to what we term as the notorious anterior pelvic tilt (APT). If you’re facing backaches or pains, APT could be amplifying them or might even be the root cause. I’ll dive deeper into APT in our upcoming section.
But that’s not the end of it. The position of the pelvis sets the stage for the alignment of the entire spine. An off-kilter pelvis means the entire spine might lean forward or make compensatory adjustments, leading to issues like knee stress, a hunched upper back, and the typical forward head tilt.
The takeaway? It’s essential to keep that pelvis aligned for overall body harmony.
We recommend wearing our Posture Lobster to help you stay aligned while sitting. Here are some additional steps you can combine with wearing the Posture Lobster to counteract the posture pitfalls of prolonged sitting:
- Embrace the Stand: Consider using a standing desk. It encourages hip extension, which can prevent APT, provided you’re standing correctly.
- The Kneeling Solution: If a standing desk isn’t feasible, opt for a kneeling chair. It’s a game-changer!
- Interval Breaks: If both options above are out of reach, make a conscious effort to rise and shine every 20 minutes. Stroll a bit, do some hip-flexor stretches; these simple acts can disrupt potential muscle imbalances from taking root.
To sum it up, stay mindful of your posture, and remember – your body wasn’t built for all-day sitting! Stand up for yourself (quite literally).
Improper Strength Training
Working out, while beneficial for our health, can have unintended repercussions when not done thoughtfully. When you engage or contract your muscles during exercise, they shorten to produce force.
It’s a normal physiological process. However, problems arise when certain muscles are repeatedly and excessively engaged, causing them to remain in a shortened state.
Picture this: an enthusiastic gym-goer, focusing predominantly on their chest, biceps, maybe throwing in some shoulder exercises. Often dubbed the “bro physique,” this fitness approach may yield an impressive-looking chest and arms, but it also results in an imbalance.
The disproportionate development of the pectoral muscles relative to the muscles of the upper back can pull the shoulders forward, leading to a rounded upper back – a condition known as thoracic kyphosis.
Overworking one muscle group while neglecting its counteractive muscle group causes imbalances, setting off a chain reaction throughout the body. Overdeveloped chest muscles and underdeveloped back muscles, for example, can cause a forward shoulder posture.
For overall health and posture, your workout should be a balanced mix of pushing, pulling, and squatting exercises.
Additionally, if you already have posture imbalances (possibly from excessive sitting or poor sitting posture), it’s paramount to integrate corrective exercises to address and rectify these imbalances.
Exercise is meant to enhance your well-being, not compromise it. A well-rounded strength training routine is essential.
If you’re unsure about designing a balanced workout plan, it’s always a good idea to consult a professional. They can guide you towards a regimen that promotes muscular harmony and helps to maintain an ideal posture. Remember, balance is key, both in fitness and in life.
Lack of Postural Awareness
It’s essential to be conscious of your postural positioning throughout the day. Simply being aware won’t directly correct any misalignments, especially if there are soft tissue restrictions, but it’s a foundational step towards improvement.
Since you’re reading this, you’re likely already invested in bettering your posture. However, even the most conscious individuals can sometimes forget to maintain proper posture during various daily activities.
A commonly overlooked area is sleeping positions. Consider the fact that when we maintain a specific position for extended periods, our tissues adapt accordingly, either by shortening or lengthening.
Given that many of us sleep for about 8 hours each night, our chosen sleeping positions have significant implications for our posture. For instance, waking up feeling misaligned after sleeping awkwardly is a direct consequence of that position.
Ideally, you should sleep on your back, supported by an orthopedic pillow. Side or stomach sleeping isn’t recommended.
Exercise is another critical time to be mindful of posture. While it’s relatively easy to check posture when looking in a mirror, maintaining proper alignment during physical activity is often overlooked.
This oversight can be detrimental since muscles and the nervous system adapt to regular movement patterns. Simply put, consistently exercising with poor posture will reinforce and solidify that misalignment.
Then there’s the workplace. Many are briefly reminded of their posture, perhaps when they catch their reflection or feel a strain, only to neglect it soon after as they delve back into their tasks.
It’s crucial to continually monitor and adjust your posture at work. Making this a habit ensures that any tissue adaptation works in favor of better posture, rather than exacerbating misalignments.
Depressed or Distressed?
The emotional and psychospiritual state of a person can significantly impact their posture, creating a feedback loop of sorts.
Consider someone going through a traumatic life event, such as an unwanted divorce from a beloved partner. The pain, sadness, and depression associated with such an event often manifest physically, leading to a particular posture.
Visualize this individual. There’s a high likelihood they’ll exhibit rounded shoulders, a slouched upper back, and a forward-leaning head.
As previously discussed, such a posture is a “low power” position, which could further lower their testosterone levels and amplify stress, piling onto their existing emotional distress.
This intertwining of emotional turmoil and postural degradation forms a tragic synergy.
It’s observed that individuals grappling with depression often display this “depressed” posture.
So even if one adopts measures like using a standing desk, following a balanced workout routine, or doing corrective exercises, the emotional baggage they carry might prevent significant postural improvement.
If you’re navigating such emotional hurdles, seeking guidance from professionals in those fields could be beneficial. Exploring self-help resources or engaging with a therapist can be valuable steps in the right direction. By addressing emotional challenges, one can facilitate a smoother journey toward postural improvement.
Muscle imbalances, often influenced by both physical and emotional factors, play a pivotal role in dictating our posture. Addressing both these aspects is vital for holistic well-being and postural enhancement.
When you’ve taken into consideration all the factors mentioned above and made necessary adjustments, then you can proceed to the corrective exercises.
However, a vital point deserves re-emphasis: the significance of addressing the root causes of postural issues. If you continue to engage in habits and activities that contribute to postural distortions, the exercises will offer minimal benefit.
Think of it as trying to fix a leaking boat. The corrective exercises act as the bucket you use to scoop out the water.
But if you don’t plug the leak (bad habits), you’ll always find yourself scooping, making no lasting progress.
For impactful and enduring improvements in posture and overall health, take a comprehensive approach.
Reflect on everything discussed earlier, identify and rectify habits that undermine your posture. Once that foundation is laid, corrective exercises will become significantly more effective in achieving the desired results.
CHAPTER 3: FIXING YOUR POSTURE
The Posture Lobster does wonders for training your posture and correcting it. Simply wear it every day for 30 minute to 1 hour intervals to retrain your body to align itself.
If you’re ready to incorporate exercises to hasten your posture correction journey, continue reading.
We will describe corrective exercises designed to amend several prevalent postural irregularities. It’s crucial to recognize that these exercises might not be directly relevant to your personal needs. The postural issues addressed here are among the most frequent observed in modern society.
However, everyone’s physique and habits differ, which means their postural issues will vary too. It’s your responsibility to determine if these exercises align with your specific postural concerns.
We’ll delve into:
- Forward tilting of the pelvis accompanied by an exaggerated curve in the lower back (anterior pelvic tilt with pronounced lumbar lordosis).
- A hunched or curved mid to upper back (thoracic kyphosis).
- A protruding or jutting head position (forward head posture).
Before embarking on these corrective measures, it’s essential to ascertain that you genuinely have these postural irregularities.
There’s a common pitfall where individuals wrongly diagnose themselves with a certain postural issue, only to find out they don’t actually have it. Trying to rectify a non-existent problem can exacerbate other issues.
Therefore, it’s strongly recommended that you consult with a specialist, like a physical therapist or a knowledgeable personal trainer, to pinpoint your exact postural concerns.
Even so, the three mentioned postural deviations are incredibly widespread. If you spend prolonged periods seated, especially over an hour daily, it’s quite possible you’re grappling with at least one of these postural challenges.
Anterior Pelvic Tilt
This condition is identified when the front of the pelvis drops lower than the back, resulting in a forward tilt (anterior tilt) of the pelvis. This leads to a protruding buttocks and an exaggerated arch in the lower back.
This particular misalignment is often the leading cause of aggravated lower back pain and stiffness.
The anterior tilt is a result of tension in the hip flexors and quadriceps, coupled with a taut lower back. This occurs simultaneously with a lack of strength in the gluteal and abdominal muscles.
To restore balance and promote a more neutral pelvic position, the corrective regimen focuses on enhancing strength in the glutes and abdominal muscles while stretching and relaxing the tight hip flexors and lower back.
Start by targeting and elongating the hip flexors with the following stretches. Each should be maintained for 2-3 sets, spanning 30-60 seconds.
HIP FLEXOR STATIC STRETCH
- Position the knee of the leg corresponding to the hip you intend to stretch on the floor, with the other foot flat in front.
- Engage the glute muscle of the leg with the knee down, also contracting your abdominal muscles.
- For an advanced version, lean slightly away from the hip being stretched.
RECTUS FEMORIS STATIC STRETCH
- Also known as the “couch stretch,” this targets the hip flexors, focusing mainly on the rectus femoris muscle which runs down the center of your thigh.
- Rest one knee on a cushioned surface and elevate the same foot behind you using a couch or chair for support. The opposite foot should be flat in front.
- Engage the glute of the knee-down leg, and rise up, keeping your abs tight.
- To intensify the stretch, raise the arm corresponding to the stretching side.
Using either a foam roller or a massage tool like a soft ball, this method is effective for those who found the static couch stretch particularly intense.
- Place your foam roller or ball on the floor.
- Align your thigh so it’s directly resting on top of the tool.
- Apply firm pressure onto your thigh.
- While maintaining this pressure, repeatedly flex and extend your knee.
This action helps to massage and release tension in the quadriceps muscle, promoting flexibility and relaxation.
LACROSSE BALL SMASH
- Locate the TFL muscle, which is situated next to the hip bone. It’s a strip of muscle shown in the referenced image. If you’re uncertain about its location, you can quickly look it up on Google Images for clarity.
- Place the ball right against the TFL muscle.
- Maintain steady pressure on this area.
- Hold this pressure for 2-3 sets, lasting 1 minute for each side.
This technique aids in releasing tension from the TFL muscle, which can contribute to better hip alignment and reduce discomfort.
To alleviate tension in the lower back, try the following gentle stretch:
- Start by getting into an all-fours position, or the tabletop position.
- Extend your arms straight out in front of you.
- While extending your arms, push your buttocks back toward your heels.
- Aim to maximize the distance between your fingertips and your buttocks, creating a deep stretch in the lower back area.
- Hold this stretched position for 30 seconds.
- Repeat the stretch for 3 sets.
This stretch helps in elongating the lower back muscles, providing relief from tightness and discomfort.
By integrating these exercises into your routine, you can effectively target and strengthen the glutes and core muscles. This, in turn, will aid in re-aligning your pelvis to a more neutral position.
- Start by lying on your back with your feet flat on the ground.
- Thrust your hips upwards, transferring your body weight onto your upper back.
- Engage and tighten your glutes throughout the movement.
- For added resistance, you can use a resistance band or hip circle around your knees. Push out against the band during the thrust.
- Complete 4 sets of 10 repetitions.
- With a resistance band placed above your knees, execute squats.
- Ensure to press your knees outward against the band, aiming to maximize glute activation.
- Complete 4 sets of 10 repetitions.
PLANK WITH POSTERIOR PELVIC TILT
- Begin in a plank position with your elbows directly below your shoulders and feet in a push-up stance.
- Lift your hips, ensuring alignment with your shoulders.
- Rotate your pelvis underneath as if attempting to tuck in your tailbone. This motion induces a posterior pelvic tilt, counteracting anterior tilt.
- Maintain this position for 4 sets of 30 seconds.
STABILITY BALL HAMSTRING CURL
- Lie down, positioning your heels on a stability ball.
- Lift your hips, so only your upper back and arms touch the ground.
- Draw your feet towards your buttocks, concentrating on activating your hamstrings.
- Complete 4 sets of 10 repetitions.
Remember, consistency is key when addressing postural imbalances. You can incorporate these exercises into your routine every alternate day until you observe a shift towards a neutral pelvic position. However, it’s crucial to strike a balance. Persisting with these exercises once your anterior pelvic tilt (APT) has been corrected could result in a posterior pelvic tilt – a misalignment that poses its own set of challenges.
Constantly check your pelvic alignment. Avoid pushing it too far in the opposite direction, which could worsen the situation. Once your pelvis aligns neutrally, it’s a cue to ease up on these specific corrective exercises to maintain equilibrium.
This posture issue, often referred to as a “hunchback”, is widely recognized and a frequent source of discontent among those who have it.
Popularly linked to the image of a person hunched over their computer or phone, it can also bring about increased stress and potentially decreased testosterone levels.
As such, rectifying it is crucial for both aesthetic and health reasons.
The curvature in the upper back, or kyphosis, can be attributed to the tightness in specific muscles, primarily the pecs, lats, and abdominals. As these muscles become taut, they pull the spine into a rounded position, especially when they overpower their antagonistic muscles.
Here’s a selection of exercises designed to stretch these muscles and combat the hunch. Remember to perform each exercise for 4 sets, holding stretches for about 30 seconds and for dynamic movements, aim for 10-20 repetitions.
- Lay on the floor with a lacrosse ball under your pectoral muscle.
- Optionally, place your arm behind your back for a more intense stretch.
- Focus on the muscle area below the collarbone, avoiding the breast tissue.
THORACIC EXTENSION AND MOBILIZATION
- Position a foam roller beneath your shoulder blades.
- With your hips and feet grounded, arch your upper back over the roller.
- Progress the roller up your back incrementally, allowing each segment to bend. Avoid rolling on the lower back.
FOAM ROLLING THE LATISSIMUS DORSI
- Start with the foam roller near your armpit and roll downwards along the side of your torso.
- Stay on the muscle, and avoid rolling too low or onto the ribs.
STABILITY BALL LAY-OVER
- Use a stability ball and lie on it with your back arched and face upwards.
- This will help stretch the front of your body, especially the abdominals.
Now, after stretching, it’s essential to focus on building strength in the muscles responsible for good posture.
The strengthening exercises target muscles that retract the shoulder blades and extend the spine.
This helps in counteracting the hunchback posture, by pulling the shoulders back and promoting a straighter spine.
Using this combination of stretching and strengthening can effectively combat the “hunchback” posture. Remember to always listen to your body and consult a professional if you’re unsure about any exercise.
- Start by lying face down on the floor.
- Engage your glutes and tuck in your stomach slightly.
- Stretch your arms sideways with your thumbs pointing upwards.
- Lift your chest off the ground, similar to peeling layers off an onion, while bringing your shoulder blades closer together.
- Hold this position for about 3 seconds.
- Repeat in 4 sets.
BAND PULL APARTS
- Stand and hold a resistance band stretched out in front of you.
- Pull the band towards you while rotating your arms outwards (external rotation).
- Ensure that by the end of the movement, your thumbs point backwards.
- This exercise strengthens the muscles between your shoulder blades and helps improve posture.
- Do this for 4 sets, with 10-15 repetitions each.
- Sit down with your back and buttocks flat against a wall.
- Ensure that your mid-back, upper back, elbows, and wrists are in contact with the wall.
- Slide your hands up the wall, trying to maintain as much contact as possible.
- Avoid arching the lower back. If this movement feels difficult, consider stretching the pectoral muscles further.
- Perform this exercise in 4 sets of 15-20 repetitions.
In contrast to the routines designed for anterior pelvic tilt, these exercises can be incorporated on an ongoing basis. If your profession involves prolonged sitting or desk work, the battle against thoracic kyphosis is continuous.
It’s advisable to weave these workouts into your regular fitness regimen indefinitely.
FORWARD HEAD POSTURE
The final postural concern we’ll touch upon is the forward head posture, where the head protrudes ahead of the individual’s center of gravity.
This positioning can be detrimental in the long run, primarily since it can lead to pronounced upper back kyphosis due to the enduring influence of gravity. Additionally, it’s aesthetically unpleasing.
The main culprits behind this posture are tightness and excessive tension in the rear of the neck combined with laxity in the anterior neck muscles. However, correcting this imbalance is straightforward.
One holistic exercise can cater to both the stretching and strengthening aspects needed to counter this posture.
Here’s how to do it:
- Lie on your back
- Initiate a gentle chin tuck
- Press your head backward against the floor, as though you’re aiming to create multiple chins.
This action will simultaneously stretch and fortify the necessary muscles. The crucial element is maintaining the chin’s tucked position. Engage in this exercise for 4 rounds, lasting 30 seconds each.
Continue this regimen until your head realigns with your spine. Concurrently, remain conscious of your head’s position during daily activities, especially while working on a computer.
Avoid reverting to that forward push, ensuring your chin remains tucked and your head retracted. By adhering to this, you’re on the right track.
You now possess the strategies to optimize your posture, ensuring it benefits rather than hinders you.
Always keep in mind, your structural health and body alignment are paramount. This perspective is not just limited to the physical dimension; it permeates the mental and spiritual realms as well. A compromised posture can impact the quality and effectiveness of your earthly journey.
Equipped with these foundational techniques, you’re on a path to bolster self-assurance, command presence, reduce stress, and minimize the risk of musculoskeletal injuries, securing joint health for the long run.