Has your coach ever told you to straighten your back or corrected you for slouching during a workout? Hearing comments like that might be annoying but your coach has a point – the benefits of good posture are many.
Posture is especially important for athletes and CrossFitters. Not only is it the foundation for every movement your body makes, but it also determines how well your body adapts to the stresses it receives. A good example of stress is the force that you have to deal with when doing deadlifts. If you demonstrate poor posture while carrying weights, unnecessary stress is applied in all the wrong places and your muscles have to work harder just to keep you upright. This inflicts extra wear and tear on your body, therefore leading to fatigue, compromised endurance and injury.
Good Posture Leads to Better Performance
Maintaining proper posture and using good form throughout your workouts leads to much better performance. Here’s why:
- Improved blood circulation — Good posture opens up your chest and elongates your spine, allowing blood to circulate freely within your system.
- Easier breathing — Better posture creates more room for your lungs to expand during exercise. Optimizing oxygenation can boost performance, endurance, post-exercise energy levels and even your ability to metabolize fat.
- Reduces unnecessary pressure — Regardless of if you are sitting, standing, lying, jumping or carrying weights, straightening your back removes unnecessary pressure on any area of your body, allowing you to move efficiently with the least amount of pain, fatigue and muscle strain.
- Better body awareness — As you practice good posture daily, you’ll begin to build better awareness of your body, which will translate into better positioning for your lifts. Internalizing your form will come naturally to you.
As an athlete, you can fall into the trap of looking at the clock and forgetting good form in exchange for a few more reps. This is the exact reason why coaches are here to correct you each time you forget your form. With all that repetition and weight happening, it is important to know whether you are training with a correct posture. Correcting bad posture habits early not only protects you from injury, but it also helps improve your overall workout experience.
Now, you should bear in mind that correcting your poor posture is not only your coach’s job. It’s never easy and it takes consistent work and practice on your part as well. First and foremost, you need to be aware of what triggers your slumped posture and come up with strategies to self-correct it. One strategy you can do is a posture self-assessment. Starting from the top, here’s what you should look for:
- Head — should be in a neutral position, neither forward nor backward.
- Spine — has the normal S curve and not a C curve.
- Shoulders — should be leveled with each other and not elevated or depressed.
- Hip joints — should be in a neutral position, neither fixed or extended.
- Feet — parallel with each other.
Throughout the day, constantly assess yourself and strive for ideal posture in every movement you make inside and outside the gym. If you feel the need to check yourself in the mirror, then do it. You can also ask help from your family and friends to make you aware when you slouch.
There are also simple exercises that you can do to fix your posture — planks, seated twists and kneeling stretches are just some of the easiest to perform and don’t require much equipment, if any.
If these aren’t enough, you can always check out some of the accessories we use to improve posture and body positioning. These include foam rollers, lacrosse balls and exercise bands.
We personally recommend using Posture Medic.
Posture Medic Original – $49.95
The Posture Medic is an exercise band that helps you stretch, strengthen and stabilize your spine. Due to poor posture, the neck and back muscles become underutilized. Using Posture Medic while doing strengthening exercises specifically targets the muscles in your neck and back to improve your range of motion and maintain proper posture.
The Posture Medic works by holding your shoulders further back and reminding you to straighten up. This can help you develop the habit of straightening your back and shoulders anytime, anywhere.