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How To Get Perfect Posture

Tall, upright posture is an enviable thing. A person who walks tall always catches my attention, as does the hunched over office worked insisting on doing more chest press. They generally get a glare more than anything

There are several different types of posture however I’m going to focus on the three main types I see on a daily basis. The lordotic/kyphosis posture, flat back and sway back.

Here’s a sample of these postures:

A: Ideal, B: lordosis/kyphosis, C: Flat and D: Sway Back

Note how the spine sits in each diagram. Sway back is commonly misinterpreted as lordosis, this is not the case.

So now we have physically identified the main types, you may want to find out a little more on each posture and how you can successfully help reduce any aches or pains/problems associated with your posture.

Why would anyone want ideal posture?

Yes, that is a bit of trick question. Of course we want to aim for ideal posture! Think about your daily movements and activities, wouldn’t it be more favourable to execute these movements correctly, freely and pain free? Possessing the ideal posture means your organs function at their highest possible ability and breathing is optimal (full exhalation and inhalation). Plus your body moves and operates at it’s optimal function. Changes in our posture can come from many areas: genetics, stress, our environment, exercise and injuries. Pregnancy will also affect posture during and after the birth. I work with lots of ladies to help improve and regain strength plus balance out weaknesses after childbirth. If left, injuries can develop resulting in rehab and less time to enjoy baby!

Identify your posture

Kyphosis/lordosis:

Head juts forward,
Upper back is rounded
Chest is tight and shoulders tend to round
Lower abs protrude forward
Excessive curve in lower spine (posteriorly) and pelvis rotated forward
Long, stretched hamstrings
Weak and poor glute development
Tight low back muscles

Flat back:

Head is leaning forward
Natural curvature of the spine is flattened
Pelvis tilted backwards
Knees locked*
Long weak hip flexors*
Short tight hamstrings*
Weak neck flexors*

Sway Back:

*Similar to Flat back however with minimal lower spine curve
Upper back is heavily rounded
Head is rotated forward
Pelvis swaying forwards
Hip joints are over extended

Who can help me improve my posture?

There are several different health professionals you can turn to including: Physiotherapists, Chiropractors, Osteopaths, Massage therapists, Personal trainers (with postural correction knowlegde), Pilates instructors and Podiatrists (read my post here about a great one. All can add their input and expertise to your body. It’s really about finding the person you feel comfortable with and trusting their method. I recommend asking friends/family members for referrals not just going in blindly to a “professional” off the street. It tends to be very hit and miss. Ask lots of questions: “How long will this process take”, “what results can I expect”, “Have you had success before” and “Do you treat my condition regularly.

Seeking help to improve your posture and therefore your body will be well worth the time, money and energy. There is not a one size fits all protocol to follow, obviously because we are all very different to our friend, work colleague or husband. Assessment is essential!

Other things that can help:

Changing up your training can help improve your posture. I generally recommend a move away from seated machines in the gym to standing and intergrated exercises. I will always try for isolation movement first then start integrating movements that will be functional (serve a purpose) for the individual client. One of my specialities is posture correction and if you are wanting help to improve yours, programs are available www.newoutlookfitness.com.au (available as face-toface and online). Some more exercises can be found here, a post I did a few years ago on posture.

Classes such as Pilates, Yoga and Barre

Some stretches you can try to help improve your posture:

 Great for all postural types, stretches the chest muscles
 Especially good for tight lats
 This psoas (hip flexor) stretch will reduce tightness and can reduce lower back pain

Wall squat excellent for stretching the lower back and lengthening it
All the above stretches are aiming at opening you up and releasing tightness. Definitely try these if you have been spending time on the computer, flying or sitting for long periods. Aim to try these 3-4 times per day for at least 1 min each. You can repeat them as needed. Don’t forget if you have any reoccurrence of injuries or pain, seek professional help. Don’t let it become any worse that it needs to be. 
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