Some friends came to town a couple of weeks ago, and when they saw my kids, they couldn’t get over how much they had grown. We made the typical nodding response of agreement, but then it got me thinking. Why don’t we make the same exclamatory remark every time we see our kids? I mean they are constantly growing. Obviously, it is because the growth is slow, and it is only over the course of some time that it is noticeable to the eye. The same can be said of how our structure changes and adapts to our experiences and surroundings. We do not find ourselves with poor posture overnight. It is a subtle, insidious adaptation which occurs. The difference between kids growing up and the change in posture is that you can do something about your posture.
Movement is the key to improving posture. Lack of movement is the key to allowing your posture to degrade even more. Improving your posture could very well depend on the type of movement you choose. Often, people will choose movements which reinforce the distortions rather than correcting them. For instance, someone who sits at a desk all day will have rounded shoulders, bent elbows, flexed hips, and a forward head position (in essence the more they sit, the more the posture adapts to sitting). Over time this posture normalizes.
This person may go to the gym, but the exercises they select may encourage more rounding shoulders, bent elbows, etc. They spend the majority of their workout doing bench press, biceps curls, leg press, and crunches. All of these movements reinforce excessive tension in the areas which are already bombarded during their workday. Little do most know that their workout is exacerbating the pains that come from distorted posture. Therefore, the selection of exercises they perform at the gym should be chosen based on what their structure is doing.
It is the areas nicknamed “dark zones” which need more attention. The “dark zones” are areas of the body which do not get a lot of stimuli due to distorted postures and compensatory motions. Ultimately the goal of your workout is to achieve a greater balance of muscular tension, improved posture and overall function. This is where the assistance of a trained professional comes into play. Getting a postural assessment of what the body is doing is a great place to start. Finding the points of structural weakness and regions of excessive stress are important pieces of information when designing a complete workout.