Day 1: You shower, style your hair and life is perfect.
Day 2: You need just a light spritz of dry shampoo and your hair still looks great.
Day 3: You need quite a bit of dry shampoo and some special styling to make yourself presentable, but you still look pretty good.
Day 4: You should have washed your hair, but then there was brunch and errands so thank goodness it’s Sunday and you can just wear a hat all day.
Day 5: You really should have washed your hair, but you didn’t and now it’s past the point of no return and no amount of dry shampoo can save it!
For some reason we tend to ignore our problems until they’re so big that fixing them takes way more work that it would if it fixed it sooner.
Was that analogy a bit of a stretch? Yes. Do I stand by it? Yes.
Talking about posture isn’t sexy.
Does anyone want to be told to pull their chin down and embrace the double chin (shown above)? Certainly not. But it’s important!
I have started to notice in my peers that the slight shoulder slump is happening more, the pelvic tilts are getting worse and the core strength is weak. If you don’t start working on building your core strength and fixing your movement patterns/posture now — it’s only going to get worse and cause you pain in the next 10-20 years.
Just look at your parents! Or aunts and uncles. Or grandparents. Odds are you have a relative with really poor posture that is either super physically obvious and/or painful for them.
The good news.
It is totally fixable and preventable. And the earlier you start working on it the better.
The even better news is that improving your posture and core strength will also make you feel more confident!
Where to begin.
Start by assessing your posture. The two main parts of poor posture are 1) excessive forward rounding of the shoulders and 2) excessive arch in the lower back.
Stand normally and take a picture of yourself from the side (were tight clothing or a sports bra so you can actually see your spine’s shape and self-timer is your friend). Assess if you have both rounding of the shoulders and excessive arching in the lower back or just one of the two. This will help you narrow your corrective exercise plan.
If you don’t notice obvious rounding or arching yet, then skip to the preventative section.
How To: Correct your rounding shoulders.
The term we use for forward rounding of the shoulders is Kyphosis. This is usually accompanied by the neck reaching forward, so practice those double chins and quit leaning into your computer.
There’s two potential issues here and both might be at play for you.
1) Your back muscles are weak.
- Training your “posterior chain” aka the muscles on the back side of your body is incredibly important. The good news is there’s so many exercises you can do to work these muscles and if you have’t been working them much, you have the potential to gain a lot of strength.
- Some of my favorite exercises for working your back are: Rows (cable, dumbbell and barbell), pull ups/chin ups & cable pull downs, bent over flies and TRX rows.
- Do those exercises in a slow, controlled manner and try to increase the weight you’re using or reps you’re doing over time (aka progressive overload).
2) Your chest muscles are tight.
- If your shoulders have been rounding forward for a while, there’s a chance that the muscles of your anterior deltoid (front of your shoulder) and pecs (chest) have been tightened/shortened. Changing this is not going to happen overnight, but working on some chest opening drills and stretches over time will pay off. Try a wall pec stretch (left) or lying windmills (right) every hour or when you can during the work day.
It’s worth mentioning that you could do all the back strengthening and chest opening in the world, but if you go back to your desk and hunch all day — it won’t do much. You still need to think about pulling your shoulders back and down as you work all day. Obviously you won’t be able to think about it every single moment, but try and start catching yourself and build up the posture endurance over time.
*Pro tip: set a reminder on your phone reminding you every hour to check in on your posture.
How To: Correct your arched lower back.
The term we use when talking about an arched lower back position is Anterior Pelvic Tilt (APT). APT is very common so don’t “feel bad” if you spend a lot of time in this position — our modern lives full of sitting encourage it! Focus on what you can do to help improve it — building core strength.
- By this I do not mean doing a bunch of crunches and 10 minute ab workouts from your favorite influencer. I mean building functional core strength by learning how to properly brace during compound lifts and doing specific core work so that you engage the most amount of your core possible. (It’s very possible to do a plank and engage very little of your core if done improperly.) Watch the two IGTV videos below to learn what I mean by bracing and engaging your core!
- Think about bracing your core will doing “other” non-core exercises. For example: If you’re doing squats, you obviously don’t want to brace your core so hard that you can’t breathe — but you want to brace a little. Think “ribcage down & brace for a gut punch from a toddler”.
- Once you’ve learned to properly brace, I’ve linked my favorite core exercises below in the “Prevention” section. I promise these will activate a lot more of your core than the typical sit ups and ab exercises you see.
Prevention (if you’re perfect and want to stay this way)
Unfortunately just because you have great posture now, doesn’t mean it will stay that way. Now is the ideal time to strengthen your back and core so that things stay how that are.
I recommend doing the same back exercises recommended in the “correct your rounding shoulders” section above and incorporating the following core exercises into your workout routine. These core strength exercises are my favorite because they focus on using multiple muscles in your midsection, versus just the “six pack” muscle.
I can’t stress enough that even with doing exercises to strengthen your back and core, you still need to think about your posture during the day. This doesn’t need to be exhausting, but it will take effort. Phone reminders can really help. Being consistent with your exercises will really help. Remember that you don’t develop poor posture overnight and you won’t change it back overnight. This will take time, but I promise you will be making little improvements every day!
Did this post help you? Is posture something you’re working on?