These days, everyone have some kind of postural deviation or imbalance. This is purely due to the majority of our time spent sitting, peering at screens and not getting enough stretching and posterior chain action in.
What is posterior chain?
Posterior chain consists mainly of our gluteus, hamstrings, calves and lower back. These 3 areas are key in stabilizing our gait when we walk forward, maintaining stability and balance.
It is extremely essential to strengthen these muscle groups in order to prevent injury, lower back strain etc. These muscles are all aligned in a chain and thus tightness or injury to a particular group can cause pain in other areas.
Other deviations you should look out for in determining your posture alignment
The below pictures show deviations in different parts of your body. Next time you look into the mirror, it might be worth to check your overall postures to spot any deviations. Or simple ask a trainer at your fitness studio to have a look.
- Ankles- when you walk do your feet cave inward i.e. towards your big toes, resulting in knees turning inward (picture 2)?
- Knees (see point 1)
- Shoulders - Rounded shoulders are particularly common. A simple way to check is to see if your palms face backward instead of to your body when you stand with your hands by your side. Shoulders can also be unlevelled i.e. tightness in one shoulder as compared to the other.
- Hips – do they tilt? You might need someone to spot you whilst you hold a stick across your hips.
- Pelvic tilt- Simply put, if you are sitting a lot, the front of your hips (hip flexors) will be tight and so will be your lower back. Your butt will be drawn back which results in an ‘overarch’ of the lower back.
- Head position - Our earlobes should be aligned over the tops of our shoulder joint. Nowadays the forward head is most common.
How to fix my posture?
There are several amazing exercises to fix posture even at your desk and elsewhere. I love this sample from lifehack as they exemplify a lot of drills that I use with my personal training clients at the gym. In particular, are no. 6 and no. 10, scapular pinches and pushups. Learning how to engage our scapula (shoulder blades) is essential to fix rounded shoulders and there is never a time where we have done enough rows to facilitate pulling movement.
Others I would advise greatly are chest stretches, thoracic rotations and extensions. Thoracic region is our upper and mid back area, the region where a lot of us are weak and do not receive adequate activation.
For exercises that require a mat, you can hug your knees to your chest to relieve pressure off of the lower back, or perform the hero pose. The hero pose is a great way to stretch out the quadriceps (front thighs) and is complementary to the child's pose, both of which feels really good for the lower back.
Strengthening the posterior chain requires immense amount of work and the best way to be safe and find out more is to work with a personal trainer. In addition, correcting posture takes time. Rows are fundamental to building up a stronger back and fixing our rounded shoulders, and so is stretching and certain myofascial releases. Do contact Melissa if you personally have postural imbalances and require help. If you want a nice overview on posture in general, just click on the button below.