How does your posture measure up?

Proper posture involves many muscles working in conjunction. The structural alignment from top to bottom should be ears over the shoulders, shoulders over the hips and the knees over the ankles, with the weight spread evenly across both feet, all toes and both heels. There are many postural deviations, that are actually quite common. They vary in severity and can lead to further problems in the body if left unresolved. Some common examples are:

1) Over-pronated feet (flat feet):Over-pronation adds stress to the foot, tightens calf muscles, and can internally rotate the knees. Over-pronation often leads to Plantar Fasciitis, Heel Spurs, Tendonitis and/or Bunions

2) Forward hip tilt or LORDOSIS or anterior pelvic tilt: overly arched lower back, caused by the pelvic bones tilting forward, due to tight hip flexors, often from sitting for most of the day. As you walk, tight hip flexors prevent the glutes from firing/activating, which forces the hamstring muscles to become overworked and excessively tight. If you have tight hamstrings, the root cause may be tight hip flexors and an anterior pelvic tilt.

lower cross

3) Hunchback or KYPHOSIS: excessively curved upper back, shoulders rolled forward, tight chest muscles and weakened and loose upper back muscles. This is one of the most common issues because of our generally sedentary lifestyles, with desk jobs and sitting at computers much of the day.

upper cross

4) Head jutted forward: Have someone take a photo of you in profile; your earlobes should be located directly above your shoulders. Sitting at a computer for hours at a time daily can be the cause of this as well. Muscles in the back of the neck become tight, along with the upper trapezius and levator scapulae (upper back muscles).

forward head

These 4 common posture problems are just scratching the surface of posture as a very important fitness topic. Another extremely important element when discussing posture is the deep core muscles, the transverse abdominals. These muscles are your body’s natural internal corset, which supports your structure and help to align your vertebrae. With proper core engagement (navel to spine and spine elevation), you can begin to alleviate back discomfort and to strengthen the other muscles that work in conjunction with the core for total body control. With good posture comes greater lung capacity, the appearance of confidence, height and even “lengthening” or thinning of the torso…you can “lose” a few pounds simply by standing straighter. Another wonderful benefit to maintaining good posture is proper exercise form, which make whatever exercises you are performing more effective and efficient. With a conscious effort and time, you can change the way you hold your own body.

With my own clients, I suggest setting a “posture alarm”, on your phone or computer or your oven timer…. something that can ping and give you a reminder to make postural adjustments and take a moment to focus on how you are sitting, standing, doing day to day activities. Making this conscious effort daily soon will create a habit and in time, poor posture will be uncomfortable, you will find yourself making unconscious adjustments without the reminder, and you will feel and see a change in how you carry yourself and how exercise affects you. So, now, take a moment to adjust…ears over shoulders, shoulders over hips, hips over heels. Spread your feet, feel all 10 toes and both heels on the floor. Pull your navel to your spine and send your energy upward, breathe into your ribcage, maintaining the navel to spine connection…then relax and feel the difference. I hope this helps you reach the next level of success in your journey to fitness.

Perfect Posture!

Vanessa Lynn Campos is mom to 2 boys, Kai and Rocky.  Her interest in fitness began at age 15, having been a dancer, cheerleader and soccer player.  She studied dance at Beijing Dance Academy in Beijing, China and the London Contemporary Dance School at The Place in England. Her professional opportunities also included working with internationally acclaimed dance photographer, Lois Greenfield, who featured Vanessa in her 2007, 2008, and 2013 calendars.  Her professional fitness career began in NYC in 2002.
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