I’m not going to lie, I’m borderline embarrassed to post since it’s been damn near a MONTH since I updated! I hope you understand, it’s been a heck of a month …recap: started school for my Exercise Science degree, left the less than par studio I was training at, moved to a new AWESOME studio and am pretty much starting from scratch building up a client base since none of my clients were able to move with me due to their contracts.
As difficult as it is starting over, it is so worth it to be at such a great studio with other really great, motivated trainers and such a major opportunity to grow. Complete 180 from where I was before, which is scary to think about and makes me wish I had left their sooner since it set me back SO much. BUT I’M FIRED UP AND READY TO GO. The future holds awesome things, provided I work hard. And I’m excited.
Breaking bad posture can certainly be challenging, but the benefits are positively worth it:
- Good posture helps your muscles to work more efficiently and fatigue slower. This obviously carries over to the weight room. For example, when doing a standing cable row, if you are hunched forward and allowing your shoulders to internally rotate instead of standing straight with your chest tall and your shoulder blades pulled back, you’re not going to be able to properly engage and work the upper back muscles.
- Good posture puts less strain on your muscles. We’re working against gravity here..
- Good posture means less of that back/neck pain and headaches that everyone is always complaining about!
- Good posture will improve your image. The Quasimodo look is not good for anyone. It makes you look weak and frankly, the image isn’t too far off. Your poor posture is weakening your muscles. NO BUENO.
- Good posture will make you more confident. I’ve become very aware of people’s posture while out in public (it’s kind of hard not to at this point, it’s in my nature. I people watch. And judge. Sorry.) When you stand up tall and straight you appear confident, you will also FEEL confident. When you feel confident you’ll BE confident. Seriously, try it. Increased confidence=increased badassery. It’s a proven fact, ask the experts. CHEST UP, WALK LIKE A BOSS.
I have yet to come across someone who has immaculate posture at all times (in real life anyways. Tony Gentilcore’s posture in his videos is fierce enough to bring the freakin’ rain. Get on that level). We all slouch, I catch myself doing it constantly, but I’ve become entirely MORE aware of it. When I don’t practice good posture I can feel it immediately and it hits me with a vengeance. So lately, I’ve been sitting on a stability ball whenever I sit at home.
I was pretty reluctant to try this at first because it just made me think of silly hippies bouncing around on pink balls eating soy burgers. Do not want. But I gave in.
I now sit on the ball while on the computer and while eating meals at the kitchen table. I’m sure I look absolutely insane (what else is new) ripping into a steak while sitting on one of these things but after only a few days I felt a considerable difference. Reduced back pain and I stand up much taller while off the ball, without having to think about it. Can’t go wrong with that.
If you’re looking to improve posture and/or lower back pain, the best thing you can do is stand up and move around. Stand. Walk. Stretch. Since most of us can’t avoid sitting certain times during the day, sitting on a ball is an excellent tool to add to your postural toolbox.
Before you start utilizing a ball, here are some things to consider:
- You’re just as likely to slouch while sitting on a ball as you are in a chair. Be careful. It’s actually worse to slouch while on the ball because you are without the back support that a chair can provide. The ball is simply something to help you become more focused on proper spinal alignment.
- Make sure you have the correct size ball. When you sit on it your knees should be bent at 90 degrees so that your thighs are parallel to the ground. If your ball isn’t the right size it could affect your posture on the ball as well as balance and safety. Also make sure your ball is properly inflated.
- Proper position for sitting on the ball: sit up nice and tall, puff your chest out and pull your shoulder blades down and back..maintain a natural curve in your lower back..but don’t over do this curve (you shouldn’t be in pain holding this position). Slightly tuck your chin and keep your neck neutral, if you’re sitting at a computer, make sure the screen is right at eye-level and keep your elbows tucked at your sides.
- Unless you’re very deconditioned, sitting on the ball isn’t a sufficient enough ‘core’ workout. It will certainly activate your core muscles and help you become better at engaging them, but there are better ways to skin that cat and this should not count as your ‘workout’ for the day. I like to suggest to set a timer for every 15-20 minutes and get up and move around. If you’re sitting on a ball, during this ‘break’ you can use your ball for planks, back extensions, quadruped extensions or dead bugs in order to get a better core strengthening workout. Notice: I didn’t suggest ball crunches. We’re trying to PREVENT excessive spinal flexion here, not encourage it..
- ….Set a timer to remind yourself to get up every 15 or 20 minutes to keep your blood flowing and your muscles ‘awake’. Your muscles will fatigue after sitting for awhile, especially on the ball. Prolonged sitting will also decrease blood flow to your muscles, which tires your muscles as well and results in more slouching! Getting up and walking around will increase blood flow and will leave you and your muscles a bit more energized.
- Be careful if you don’t have good balance! If you’re confident enough in your balance to use the ball but are still looking to improve, try some simple balance exercises while you’re sitting on it: (Always sit in “proper position” while doing these) first try sitting with your feet closer together at the base of the ball. Next, lift one leg up and try to hold this position and repeat with as little assistance as possible or try it with your arms out in front of you. Also, try shifting your position, move from side to side or back and forth. BE CAREFUL.
- When just starting out, only use the ball for 10 minutes at a time, as maintaining proper position will fatigue your lower back muscles.
In addition, simple ways for improving your posture via training are..
- Do mobility drills..preferably daily (these may seem difficult at first, but you WILL improve!). Emphasis on thoracic spine, hips and shoulders. Add these into your warm-up or in between sets if you’re crunched for time.
- Foam roll and stretch. If you’re not already doing these things, we need to have a serious talk.
- Pull more than you push. Try a 3:1 or 2:1 pull to push ratio in your program.
- Incorporate some direct rotator cuff exercises into your routine.
- Do more single leg and single arm work. These are good for the soul ;)
Moral of the story: improved posture leads to improved ferocity in life and under the bar.
Hope all is well with everyone <3 I WILL be posting again within the next couple days since I’ll have a bit more free time and inspiration :)