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DEC 18, 2023

The Importance of Posture During Exercise


Explore our comprehensive guide on posture improvement, featuring detailed benefits, step-by-step workout instructions, and a host of helpful tips.

Read time: 7 minutes

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on the importance of maintaining good posture during exercise. Anyone who has been exercising for even a short time is aware how important posture is. Not only in our day-to-day lives but most importantly during physical activities and workouts. This is because when we take the necessary steps to improve our health and performance, we’re often performing unnatural movements and poses. Which can lead to damage and strain if not done properly.

The Anatomy of Good Posture

Good posture is more than just straightening your back. I mean, that’s a great place to start [he says writing hunched over a keyboard] but there’s more to it. When standing, the general rule of thumb is to align your ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles in a straight line. In a seated position, your feet should be flat on the floor, with your back straight and shoulders back. And, of course, your core, back, and shoulder muscles all play a pivotal role in maintaining this alignment.

Pros of Maintaining Good Posture During Exercise

  • Injury Prevention: Proper posture helps distribute the stress of exercise evenly across your body, reducing the risk of specific muscle or joint overuse and injury.

  • Improved Muscle Activation: Correct alignment ensures that the targeted muscles are engaged, making your workouts more effective.

  • Enhanced Breathing and Circulation: Good posture allows for better lung expansion and blood flow, crucial for endurance and performance.

  • Better Workout Efficiency: With good posture, your body performs exercises as intended, maximizing the benefits of your workout routine.

Cons of Poor Posture During Exercise

  1. Increased Risk of Injury: Slouching or improper alignment can lead to strains, sprains, and other injuries due to uneven force distribution.
  2. Muscle Imbalances: Poor posture can lead to overcompensation in certain muscles while others weaken, causing imbalances.
  3. Reduced Performance: Incorrect form reduces the effectiveness of your exercises, limiting your fitness progress.
  4. Long-term Health Issues: Chronic poor posture can lead to persistent pain and conditions like kyphosis or lordosis.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Exercises for Better Posture

Alright, say you’ve already got poor posture and are looking to improve it? Well don’t worry, here are a few simple exercises to improve your posture.

Planks

Purpose

Planks are a versatile and effective exercise for strengthening your entire core, which includes the muscles around your trunk and pelvis. A strong core is vital for maintaining good posture.

Steps

  • Start Position: Begin in a push-up position but with your forearms on the ground instead of your hands. Your elbows should be directly below your shoulders.

  • Form Alignment: Keep your body in a straight line from your head to your heels. Engage your core muscles by pulling your belly button towards your spine.

  • Hold: Maintain this position, ensuring your hips don't sag or lift too high. Focus on keeping your back flat.

  • Duration: Hold for 20-30 seconds to start, gradually increasing the time as you get stronger.

Back Extensions

Purpose

Back extensions target the lower back and are essential for strengthening the muscles that support your spine.

Steps

  • Start Position: Lie face down on a mat with your arms extended in front of you and legs straight.

  • Lift: Slowly raise your upper body off the ground, keeping your neck neutral and looking down at the floor.

  • Hold and Lower: Hold this raised position for a few seconds, then slowly lower back down.

  • Repetitions: Perform 10-15 repetitions.

Shoulder Blade Squeezes

Purpose

This exercise helps combat rounded shoulders by strengthening the muscles in your upper back.

Steps

  • Start Position: Sit or stand with your back straight and shoulders relaxed.
  • Squeeze: Pull your shoulder blades together as if you're trying to hold a pencil betweenthem.
  • Hold and Release: Hold the squeeze for 5 seconds, then relax.
  • Repetitions: Repeat 10-15 times.

Chest Stretches

Purpose

Chest stretches help improve posture by loosening the chest muscles, which can become tight from poor posture habits like slouching.

Steps

  • Start Position: Stand near a doorway or wall.

  • Stretch: Place your arm against the door frame or wall (elbow bent at a right angle) and leanforward until you feel a stretch in your chest.
  • Hold and Switch: Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, then switch to the other arm.
  • Repetitions: Repeat 2-3 times on each side.

Another great exercise to invest in is either Yoga or Pilates. Both focus on body alignment, balance, and mindful movement, making them excellent for improving posture.

Helpful Posture Improving Tips

Other than active exercises, here's a comprehensive list of tips to improve posture. Implementing these tips consistently could lead to significant improvements in posture over time.

  • Sit correctly. Keep your feet flat on the ground, back straight, and shoulders back.
  • If you work at a computer all day, adjust the monitor height and ensure your screen is at eye level.
  • If you are sat for long periods, take regular breaks. This can mean standing or walking every 30 minutes when sitting for long periods.
  • Invest in ergonomic furniture. Chairs with good lumbar support aren’t as expensive as you may think and will help maintain the curve of your spine.
  • While exercising, mind your weight distribution and stand evenly on both feet.
  • Stretch regularly. Incorporate daily stretches to relieve muscle tension.
  • Be mindful of how you sleep. Sleep in a posture-friendly position, using a supportive mattress and pillow.
  • Stay hydrated with a well-made water bottle. Dehydration can also affect muscles and joints.
  • Wear the correct, supportive footwear.
  • Keep a balanced diet as proper nutrition supports muscle and bone health.
  • Perform balance exercises and engage in balance training to enhance your posture.
  • Do regular posture checks. Use a mirror to self-check and adjust your posture.
  • Consult a professional such as a physiotherapist who can offer personalized advice and exercises.

Conclusion

Maintaining good posture during exercise isn’t just about looking poised, it's essential for optimal performance, injury prevention, and long-term wellbeing. By being mindful of your posture and incorporating posture-enhancing exercises into your routine, you can enjoy a healthier, more effective workout experience.

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Written by Matthew Stogdon

Matt has been writing for two decades, across print and digital media. He is also an accomplished filmmaker, with several accolades under his belt.

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