Fixing Posture in the Modern World

Posture is important and everybody knows it, but why?

          Posture is important and everybody knows it, but why? The human body is a masterpiece that is set up to function heal and perform optimally. With optimal posture our lower backs don’t hurt, we don’t have neck pain, shoulders are not saggy, hips move fluidly and feet and ankles are strong. However, in our modern world we add in stress, cell phones, TV, poor nutrition, lack of general physical movement, over specialization, dehydration, hours of sitting and limited body awareness. We become very forward posture dominant beings, placing a ton of stress on our lower backs and necks!

One of the easiest ways to improve posture is by bringing awareness of what good posture is and then we can talk about the secondary benefits of what good posture can bring about! Good posture revolves around your spine, which sits between your skull and pelvis. The spine houses your spinal cord--I will come back to this. Your spine cannot be in a good posture if your head and pelvis is not in a good position. SO, when you look at someone from the side you want to see a straight line from their ear, shoulder, hip and ankle bone.

Corrections: tuck your pelvis, act like your head is growing up to the ceiling, shoulders slightly back

If you maintain good posture then all of the tensions in your body are optimal. Think about your body as a pulley system. The muscles are the ropes and the bones are the pulleys. When the hip (pulley) is in a bad position and rotated forward (someone with a big arch in their back) then their hamstrings are on a tension which will affect: hamstring injuries, knee stability and many more issues. Notice in the above picture when posture is fixed that Shannon’s knees are not hyper extended. Good posture carries over to all sporting events also. If your spine, hips, ankles and head are in a good angles then you will be able to produce force, change direction and minimize wear unnecessary wear and tear on joints and minimize injury.

As I mentioned earlier the spine houses the spinal cord and the nerves run out between each vertebrae. If your spine is in a bad position it will affect how the nerves control the rest of the body including organs and muscles. When you improve posture you have secondary benefits of: improved mood, digestion, improved sleep, minimizing radiating pain from affected nerve roots and plenty more.

So in summary, be aware of your body position at all times as it may have a more global wellness affect than you may think.

  • Strengthen your core and back muscles to help hold you upright.  

  • Stretch-especially quads, hamstrings, groins, chest muscles.

  • Apply principles of good posture all day long (adjust yourself standing, texting, reading and sitting).

  • Learn proper running/lifting mechanics so that joints are loaded properly.

  • Drink a minimum of 50% of your bodyweight in ounces a day so that the tissue allows for flexibility.

Erik Hernandez, M.A., CSCS

Erik Hernandez currently serves as the Assisant Director for Strength and Conditioning for Olympic Sports at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is responsible for training the Women's Volleyball, Womens lacrosse, Men's golf and the Men's and Women's Track and Field Throwers. Before Carolina, Hernandez was a Graduate Assistant Strength Coach at the University of Tulsa working primarily with football and basketball.