PT Corner – Stand Up Straight! Total Gym Exercises To Improve Your Posture:
Didn’t your mother always tell you to “Sit Up!” and “Stand Straight!”? She was right. Posture during sitting, standing, and moving can place the body in an ideal alignment for the joint shock absorption,efficient muscular activity, and optional breath. In fact, Amy Cuddy’s book, Presence Bringing your Boldest Self to your Biggest Challenges, discusses the physiological and psychological changes associated with postural changes. For example, sit or stand in slouched position and take deeps breaths,activate your core, and/or think happy thoughts. How does this feel? Now sit or stand with your shoulders over your hips, ribcage over your pelvis and hip, knee and ankle aligned. In this position, take deeps breaths, activate your core and think happy thoughts. How does this feel? In the latter position,the body will typically feel more efficient and more elated.
If posture is that powerful, than why are many of us struggling with it? The answer is multifactorial. How we move, how we play/exercise, breathe, and feel can be drivers to our posture. Posture is not only static, but also dynamic. Thus, posture while exercising is as important as the posture you have sitting watching TV or at the computer. Maintaining postures requires strength, flexibility, and endurance in both the deeps muscles which stabilize the spine and larger muscles moving it. Here is one of my favorite postural workouts I do on the Total Gym.
Initiate the movements with pelvic floor, lower belly and shoulder blades sliding away from the ears. Start with movements with neutral spine, and maintain unless otherwise directed. Keep width through the collar bones and ribcage over the pelvis.
1. Kneeling Plank with Toe Bar:
Postural Cue: Keep the spine in one straight line.
2. Side Kneeling Plank Right/Left:
Added challenge lift the top leg
Perform the movement on the forearm to help with stabilization.
Postural Cue: Keep the spine in one straight line. Imagine the spine between two sheets of glass not allowing your body to move forward or backward.
3. Pulldowns/ Pullover:
Added challenge marching with lower body
Postural Cue: Avoid excessive rib elevation, especially as the arms reach overhead.
4. Hands and knees opposite arm and leg:
With or without arm pulley
Postural Cue: Focus on the stationary leg and arm keeping the hip and knee aligned and the shoulder aligned with the wrist.
1. Diagonal Back Extension
Kneeling or sitting
Postural Cue: Allow the upper back to extend first then the lower back.
2. Alternating shoulder flexion/extension:
Sitting or kneeling facing tower
Postural Cue: Keep the ribs over the hips. Avoid the ribcage from lifting up.
3. Wide fly–Elbows bent or straight
Postural Cue: Avoid excessive shoulder elevation
4. Side squats
Postural Cue: Keep the spine aligned. Avoid the upper body rounding forward.
5. Bridge squats:
Hips high, Hips low
Postural Cue: Visualize the knees reaching over the hips to avoid excessive pressure onto the neck.
Postural Cue: Imagine lifting the ribs off the hips while reaching overhead.
2. Hip Flexor:
Lunging to a higher incline.
Postural Cue: Lift the ribs off the hips and feel the stretch at the front of the hip. Avoid the
ribcage excessively lifting.
3. Feet in straps:
Hamstrings (back of the leg)
Adductors (inner thigh)
Hip Oblique (outer hip)
Postural Cue: Focus on neutral spine, avoid the tailbone lifting off the table.