We see a lot of talk about having good posture and what to do to achieve it but what is good posture? It’s probably easier to think of it as how you would stand if you didn’t sit at a desk for 8 hours a day or hadn’t picked up any injuries from playing your chosen sport. You’re spine has natural curves that get disrupted if you don’t pay attention to how you are sitting and the effects of long periods of doing so even with good posture and what happens to how you move when you get injured. Your hips, knees, ankles, shoulders are all affected by the sitting for long periods and obviously can all be injured playing sport. If your pelvis if not constantly pulled forward and down by overly tight tissues will sit relatively level, your shoulder girdle would sit comfortably back if it wasn’t being pulled forward by your tight pec’s etc (this is simplifying it but you get the point) . All the need for holding yourself in “good posture” would be gone because it would happen on it’s own and a what you may find difficult to do at the moment would be happening without any conscious thought on your part because the imbalances you are trying to counter wouldn’t be there.
Much of the advice we get to help alleviate these problems centres on learning to engage our abdominal musculature, tuck our pelvis under, lengthen our spines and not poke our chins forward and maybe improving your upper back strength. This is generally solid advice as far as it goes but often does little to address the under lying issues with the soft tissue structures that may be causing the anterior tilt in your pelvis, the loss/exaggeration of spinal curves and anterior pull on the shoulder girdle. These problems can start from the feet and flow upwards as well as coming from the upper body and flowing down into the pelvis and ultimately into the feet, the two often combining into a nasty negative feedback loop so to speak. To give an example of why this seemingly sound advice misses the mark somewhat, If you are anteriorly tilted in the pelvis, effectively placing yourself in extension, then you will find it hard to bring your glutes into play or your engage your lower abdominals thus compromising your ability to tilt your pelvis back towards neutral.
As a very quick assessment of the musculature of the trunk, if you can correctly perform the plank and side plank for 60 seconds then it is probably up to the task of holding you in reasonable posture. That said whilst you may still have specific issues that need addressed overall things can be said to be working reasonably well. If you can’t perform both these exercises then there is definitely some need to do some remedial work on learning to engage and then strengthening the musculature through the abdominal and lumbar area and significant improvement can be made by simply getting the abdominal musculature working, something I see time and again in the clinic.
We’ve looked at the plank and found there isn’t an issue there but posture is still poor what now? Moving past other possible weaknesses and the remedial work that can be done there some of the biggest improvements can be made by looking at joint mobility. These improvements can come from within the joint capsule or through improvements in the tone and length of any offending musculature that may be restricting or otherwise negatively affecting the movement of a joint. In the next post we’ll look at the areas that can give you the biggest improvements but have a quick look at Injury proofing with better mobility for some ideas to begin with if you want to get started.