Is Better Posture The Answer For Better Health

Richard Kelly 4th March 2019

We probably all agree what constitutes bad posture.  But does improving your posture lead to better health?

As we get older, posture becomes a bigger and bigger concern.  I have trained a number of clients who are concerned that their posture is poor and have hired me, in part, to do something about that.   It’s probably best to look at what causes poor posture, before we discuss what we can do about it.

To most people, poor posture constitutes a forward rounding of the shoulders, a forward head position, and in extreme cases a slight hunching of the back.  This is sometimes known as upper-cross syndrome, or as kyphosis.  There are various medical reasons why someone might have kyphosis that cannot be fixed with exercise alone, and in these cases there would be a serious spinal issue around their posture, but for the vast majority of people their problem is to do with muscle imbalances.

There is a second element to posture, and that is known as lower-cross syndrome, or lordosis.  Lordosis is an excessive curving of the lower back, which can sometimes make the stomach look as though it is protruding or the bottom is sticking out.  Again muscle imbalances are the cause of the problem here as well. 

Modern life tends to cause people to adopt kyphotic positions.  Mobile phones, work desks and computers, all encourage a forward head and shoulders position, either to operate a mouse, keyboard or when using a phone.  Equally, we are far more sedentary than we used to be.  Most people spend a lot more time sitting than ever before, and the world is far less manual.  Sitting so much has a huge knock on effect to lordosis.  And largely it is unavoidable.  So much of our modern work is done sitting down in front of screens that just exacerbate the problem.  And as you get older, when your activity levels drop you tend to sit more, which just adds to the problem.
Clearly spending some time trying to reverse these things is a good starting point.  Making an effort to be more active, to spend less time sitting in front of the computer or staring at your phone would have a big benefit.  Equally, encorporating some stretches into your training regime to open up your hips, shoulders and chest would benefit.  You should also try to strengthen your upper back, core and glutes.

I can’t stress this enough.  A lot of people think that stretching alone will improve posture, but the reality is that resistance work is vital.  When you lengthen a muscle through stretching, you have to work on strengthening the opposite side of the body, in order to reinforce the change you’ve made.  Over time that combination will create change in the body. 

And what does that good postural stance look like?  It is someone with their head held high, shoulders back, with a tight core and glutes.  You’d probably look at that person and say that they were confident, that they were strong, vital, and capable.  So perhaps the answer to our question is a deeper one; good posture indicates a strong and vital body, confidence and resilience.  Perhaps trying to gain better posture isn’t the targetable goal, perhaps it is better health that leads to better posture?

I believe this to be the case, and this completely changes the nature of the question.  And we can see this to be true.  I just mentioned that spending too much time being sedentary and spending too much time looking at screens or telephones can cause issues with posture.  Well, these are aspects of work/life balance and general activity. 

A poor diet can also lead to poor posture.  You may have heard that gut health is reckoned increasingly important to health.  Well, there are a number of gut health experts who have linked poor gut health to poor posture.  The thinking runs that poor gut health causes inflammation around the midsection, which can weaken and tighten the core muscles, affecting the posture.

With clients who come to me to improve their posture I tend to take the view that they want to improve their overall health.  But focusing on not only the posture, but their wider health, diet and lifestyle as well as their exercise, we see a long term improvement in posture, and changes which means that postural change is sustainable. My advice to you, if you want to improve your posture, is to focus on improving your health and lifestyle first, and your postural improvement will certainly follow. 

I understand that for many people this can be daunting and difficult.  How can you know which foods are affecting your gut, for example, or what exercises are best to improve your posture?  That’s why we offer a free consultation for anyone interested in Personal Training or Wellness Coaching.  Personal Training will provide you with bespoke sessions providing your body the specific exercises you need for your health and posture goals, and nutritional advice specifically tailored to you.  And this is not simply a case of telling you to eat lots of vegetables and drink plenty of water, we create a dietary plan that works for you in your life and helps you achieve results.

And if you want something even more immersive, to totally revolutionise your life, then there is Wellness Coaching.  Wellness Coaching covers your exercise and dietary needs just as Personal Training would, and includes activity, lifestyle and the rest and recovery aspects of your life.  Wellness Coaching can completely change your life and health for the better!

Simply click on the link below to register your interest and we can arrange your consultation for free.

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