My epiphany about the importance of good posture.
As it turns out, the root cause of my back issues has to do with poor posture or “lazy” posture. As a kid I always remember my Dad encouraging me to sit up straight at the dinner table. I was encouraged to not slouch when I stand and to be proud of my height. I was also a figure skater and in order to be graceful on the ice I was encouraged to stand strong and to use the length of my body (although sometimes my hands were droopy, right Mom? ) Good posture as it turns out is also important for athletes and when you get lazy about it your muscles can fatigue faster and you become a much less efficient athlete.
Perhaps it’s my body getting older, perhaps its overtraining or perhaps I have developed some lazy, bad habits in my running. Unfortunately because I did not focus on my form and posture especially during longer fatiguing races I overused my hips and basically made everything go all crazy in my back, my right hip and my right leg. We are talking serious back spasms across my whole lower lumber, sciatic pain, a tipping pelvis, an out of whack SI Joint and a “wicked” tight piroformis muscle, TFL, and gluteus medius. Apparently I had forgotten that as a runner you need to “fire your glutes” and to use your all important hamstring muscles. Silly me! As an athlete had I had lost my body awareness during long fatiguing runs and I had completely forgotten about good posture.
The good news is that I am finally back on the road to running and some serious training for my first IRONMAN 70.3, The Timberman, at the end of the summer. But this time I am truly going to be extra cautious because no one likes having a grumpy injured runner around. Over the past 5 months in addition to healing and strengthening my body my main focus has been on my posture. I now remind myself throughout the day to check my posture. When I am strength training, running, cycling, swimming or even sitting and working at my desk or standing I check my posture to see if it is strong or weak and make corrections.
What is good posture?
Good posture is keeping your bones and joints in proper alignment. Good posture is needed when standing, walking, running, sitting etc. When you have poor posture a whole host of issues can arise that can affect you throughout your daily life and during exercise. Poor posture can stress your muscles and ligaments and cause overuse injuries.
How can you improve your posture?
- Be aware of your body position while driving. As you drive your body becomes relaxed. You need to have good body awareness to keep your body in correct position when sitting or driving..
- Make sure that you hinge from your hips when you bend forward. Try to avoid awkward uneven bending motions when lifting.
- Be aware of any stress that you may be carrying around. When you are stressed your muscles become tense which can cause poor posture. Perhaps a massage could help?
- Exercises that work on stability and building lower abdominal muscles will give your body a stronger more stable platform for better posture.
- Foam roll to release tension in your muscles. Tight muscles can lead to poor posture.
- Tuck in your pelvis and tighten your core when you are standing or sitting. Good posture will promote proper curvature of the spine.
- Stand more, sit less.
- Remind yourself to use your glutes. This part of your body is strong and should be used!
Here is an excellent infographic from Greatist.com that is “The Ultimate Guide To Good Posture.”
Find More at the Greatist Fitness Blog
Have you checked your posture lately? What are some of your best tips for posture improvement? Has your posture impacted you negatively?
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