Posture is one of those things that is never really perfect. You can get an excellent posture for sure, but nailing the textbook perfect alignment is near impossible.
Having said that, your posture really doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to be great.
And by great, we don’t mean a perfectly vertical spine. In fact, a perfectly or near-vertical alignment is a sign of severe postural deviation.
That’s because your sine is meant to have a degree of curvature for it to provide supports and dynamic function.
Your spine should more or less form a very gentle s-curve. This allows it to provide stable mechanical support both in static situations and through movement.
Posture determines your skeletal alignment. This doesn’t just determine how you look when you’re standing or moving, it also determines the quality of your standing and movement.
The better your posture, the better your entire skeleton is synced up and the more efficiently you move.
The skeletal alignment you gain through good posture doesn’t just improve your moves, it’s also important for your internal functions
Your circulation is a network of tubes designed to function at maximum efficiency when ideal postural alignment is achieved.
Your organs also sit best when your posture is at optimal alignment.
Breathing and digestion are examples of essential functions that are influenced by your posture.
So how do you know when your posture is out of whack?
Pelvic tilt happens in most people, but sometimes it gets a bit extreme. There are two forms of extreme pelvic tilting.
Anterior, which is where the pelvis tilts forward, giving a “butt out” appearance. Posterior which is where the pelvis tilts backward, giving a “butt in” look.
Lordosis is an extreme inward arching of the lumbar spine
Kyphosis is the typical hunchback appearance where the thoracic spine arches outward
Scoliosis is an abnormal lateral (side to side) curvature of the spine
So that’s what extreme postural deviations look like. It is common, even with healthy posture, to have some pelvic tilt and some inclination towards lordosis or kyphosis in very subtle forms.
But exaggerated expressions of these forms, as well as any form of scoliosis, are considered as deviations.
This article will go into a few exercises you can do to help with spinal realignment.
This one is great for kyphosis as well as the dreaded “tech neck”. Tech neck is an informal term for the recent prevalence of forwarding neck tilt due to use of devices such as laptops and smartphones.
The thoracic extension, also known as the chest opener, involves you spreading your arms open and looking up at the sky. This pulls your chest open and extends your spine for an inward curve.
Okay, so yoga is obviously a bit more broad than a single exercise. But when it comes to postural alignment, yoga is the best system of training.
Yoga is probably best for posture than it is for flexibility which is what it’s more typically associated with.
From child’s pose to downward dog, from tadasana to cat/cow, yoga is more than just a cool workout for hippies and vegans. Some of the most well-adapted elite athletes have yoga to thank.
Your spine is linked to your limbs through the shoulder girdle for your arms and your pelvic girdle for your legs.
That means the way your limbs more and are controlled is affected by and affects your posture.
Limb lifts work by activating the contralateral system of movement. That basically means alternating limb movements (right arm moves with left leg and vice versa)
Bear crawls, also known as the traveling beast is a movement form using the same contralateral idea as limb lifts, but you’re moving across a space.
Stack your joints (wrists shoulder-width apart, knees directly below the hips).
Your back should be parallel to the ground and knees bent to about 90 degrees
High plank simply put is a push-up without you actually doing push-ups. This is meant to develop isometric core strength (static balance) in the muscles that surround the spine.
The high plank is great for both lumbar and thoracic realignment.
Simply hold yourself in a plank position for as long as you can, focusing on tensing the core.
Posture is about more than just looking good and standing taller. It bears significance across your entire body system from circulation to breathing and digestion.
Because we live increasingly sedentary lives with a lot of sitting around, postural deviations are more common than ever, hence the need for you to constantly check and work on maintaining alignment.
Always check with a doctor or orthopedic specialist if you suspect and serious deviations in your spine.