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Fix Your Posture!

A Simple, Yet Complicated Guide To Spinal Health.

Posted by Whisper - January 27th, 2015

What Is This Article About?
This is all about life. Your posture will ultimately define your life in many ways. So many people suffer from some kind of postural problem and don’t even know it. If you cannot possibly stand up and stay still for 30-60 minutes without your lower back or upper back or knees hurting, your posture needs work. It doesn’t matter if you can deadlift 400lbs, your lower back is still weak and fragile. The superficial muscles might be strong but the stabilizing muscles are not working which is a recipe for disaster. You might not even have any problems now, but just have a look at our elders. Everybody’s mother or father or grandpa or uncle has a spinal problem and that’s because they did not take care of their spine their whole life. In this text, I will help you fix your posture which is much simpler than you think and much more complicated than you think…

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Examples of Bad Posture

  • Forward Head Posture: This means that your head is essentially “falling off” your spine instead of being directly above it. If you look at somebody from the side, their ears should be directly above their shoulder joints and if they are not, they suffer from forward head posture.

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  • Kyphotic Posture: This affects your mid and upper back. You are always slouched over and your mid back has a bigger curve than it should have. This is usually coupled with rounded shoulder posture. You cannot stick your chest out easily and you might be having weird shoulder or arm pain.

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  •  Anterior or Posterior Pelvic Tilt: This is the root of all lower back problems. Your pelvis is not stabilized correctly and it either tilts forward or backwards, so your butt either sticks out too much or tucks under too much. This is always coupled with knee and ankle problems.

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Interestingly enough, you cannot have one postural problem without the other. If your pelvis is not stabilized, chances are you will have a kyphotic posture and a forward head posture. Let’s see why this is. Let’s assume your butt sticks out too much so you have an anterior pelvic tilt. By default, your body will lean forward slightly instead of being upright. But as we know, our eyes must always look towards the horizon, so our body will try to “fix” the problem by raising the head which creates a forward head posture. So now you have an extreme arch at your lower back and at your cervical spine which leads to an extreme arch at your mid and upper back. At the same time, since your butt is sticking out, your knees will start caving in, which will lead to knee pain and by extension…ankle pain. So you see where this is going.

The majority of doctors and physical therapists will diagnose a knee problem when they see knee pain, and will diagnose a shoulder problem when they see shoulder pain, but they fail to look at the root of the problem which is always our posture unless you have suffered some kind of injury like a car accident, which can still mess up your posture and lead to further injuries down the line.


Other Symptoms of Bad Posture

Unfortunately it doesn’t stop there. Are you maybe having difficulty taking deep breaths? Is your chest or belly hurting? Are you having any difficulty evacuating your bowels? Are you having dizziness/headaches/vertigo? Are you having weird muscle cramps or nervous ticks? There is a huge chance, your posture is causing all of those symptoms. Let’s analyze. Any type of cervical imbalances will lead to headaches and/or dizziness. A kyphotic posture will lead to tight rectus abdominis muscles which leads to chest pains and difficulty breathing. Lower back problems will translate to intestinal and stomach problems, even sexual dysfunction. Perhaps, you are always feeling tired without apparent reason. You might be having “power leaks”. When a muscle is tight, it literally feeds on large amounts of nervous energy, leaving less energy for your everyday tasks. Even, when you are sleeping you might be “leaking” energy. So enough about this, let’s try to fix the issue.


Fixing Bad Posture
Depending on the case, there are particular stretches and exercises than you can perform to correct the issue. In my experience though, they are just a temporary solution. Yes, if you have a kyphotic posture, you should be stretching your chest/shoulders/abdominals/upper traps and you should be strengthening the lower traps/rhomboids/serratus anterior/thoracic extensors. But at the end of the day, if your mind does not realize what good posture is, you will always return to the messed up state. So it all comes down to your nervous system which can be extremely powerful at creating problems and at fixing problems.


Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. Stand up and stay still. Find the correct posture or at least work towards the correct posture by realizing what correct posture feels like. Ideally, your ankles, hips, shoulders and ears should be on a straight line. Shoulders relaxed, chin tucked in, chest out, pelvis neutral, legs relaxed. Find this posture and hold it. Try to stay relaxed at the same time. Don’t try to fight the bad posture, but rather escape from it.  The nervous system adapts faster when the stimulus is simple and easy. When you reach this position which you consider to be good posture, you need to start thinking/imagining about 2 things. Firstly, an anchor is tied on your pelvis and is pulling you down. You are not actually going down, you are just imagining it. So your legs must be firmly touching the ground but at the same time stay relaxed, similarly to when you are in the water. The second thing you must imagine, is having a rope attached to the top of your head which is pulling you to the sky. This way your whole body extends and stays tall but you are at a relaxed state…your body is almost a wave in the air.


Start with 3 minutes, see if you can hold this without getting any pain or discomfort. Work towards 5 minutes, then 10 minutes. Practise this daily. Aim for 30 minutes a day, until you correct your posture. You will probably feel some burning at your upper or mid back but this is normal. This is your stabilizing muscles working and getting tired. When it becomes too much, take a step back, relax and try again later. This is not about making a PR. This is about getting in touch with your own body and mind.

What Causes Bad Posture
If you are reading this and you are not exercising but you have a bad posture, it can be caused by 3 things.

  • A physical injury, like a car or bike accident.

  • An emotional injury or lack of expression. Believe it or not, if you are holding back on laughing, screaming, crying, hitting, getting hit etc etc, certain muscles become tight and your posture declines.

  • Failing to keep proper posture at your everyday life. Sitting wrong, standing up wrong, playing video games, having a desk job…That doesn’t mean you can’t work at a desk or you can’t play video games. But you must be always reminded of what good posture feels like and you must always try to escape from the bad posture.

If you are reading this and you ARE exercising regularly, yet your posture is messed up and you have weird pains and aches at weird places, then the exercising has caused the problem.


Bodybuilding in particular can be a very bad thing for the body, if you do not counter it (balance it out) with something else. Bodybuilding exercises, especially isolation exercises, are all robotic and unnatural. Your body is not designed to leg curl or quad extend or bicep curl, or lateral raise. Your body is actually not even designed to deadlift. We are designed to pick stuff off the floor with a flexed lower back. But when we deadlift properly, our lower back must be extended to avoid injury, which can make the lower back stiff and tight, and over time lead to postural problems. So, how do you counter the robotic movements? With graceful movements. Yoga, martial arts, pilates, dancing, basketball, stretching are all examples of graceful movements. Aim for at least doing one of those, to counter the destructive results of bodybuilding.

Closing up, if you have any questions about this, don’t hesitate to comment below, post your question on my board, or private message me.


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posted by Whisper
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MS Content Manager

Bachelors in Biochemistry
Strength Athlete & Aikido Practitioner

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MEMBER COMMENTS
Gracie
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Right off the bat, a grapple is tied on your pelvis and is pulling you down. You are not really going down, you are simply envisioning it. So your legs must be solidly contacting the ground however in the meantime remain loose, Animated Video Company comparably to when you are in the water. The second thing you should envision, is having a rope connected to the highest point of your head which is pulling you to the sky. Any kind of cervical awkward nature will prompt cerebral pains as well as tipsiness. Prompts chest agonies and trouble relaxing. Lower back issues will mean intestinal and stomach issues, even sexual brokenness.

gmdgeek
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Being someone that suffers from Thoracic back pain I will straight up tell you correcting your posture makes a huge difference on pain.  There are stretches and exercises that you can do to correct the posture and take the pressure off the spine.  I do a series of 4 a couple times a day while at work and usually during gym time.  Another important note I would add is this upcoming generation is going to have it bad!!! Bent over looking down at their phones all the time.  I cut my phone in half and now make concious efforts to ensure I am sitting, standing, walking with proper posture.  

Fitness_Oriented
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I just read your post!  You explained everything very well.  I especially took notice of a point you made in the beginning where you mention how superficial muscles may be strong, but the stabilizer muscles aren't working properly.  That's especially true with back pain.  I know a crucial stabilizer muscle in the back is the Multifidus, which controls intersegmental movement between the vertebral bones of the spine.  If one has back pain, the Multifidus is one of the first muscles to turn off.  Then the superficial Erector Spinae muscle overfires to make up for lost stability.  Unfortunately, that superficial muscle by overworking causes excessive compression in the back and causes more back pain.  

FearlessRobb
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mine is horrible  i slump forward and most of what is described.    also in your causes i belive bed and pillows is a cause of it as well. I dont belive we were made to be sleeping on soft matresses and pillows that raise your head and neck up for 8 hrs while you sleep??  on the side yes to keep it your spine straight but laying down on back i belive you should try for no pillow at all.  Also im going to try the standing against the wall thing like you said but ive found that laying on a hard wood floor and making sure you push up to help get your head down and shoulders back agaisnt ground seem put little tenstion. but thats just an opinion i dont know if that helps at all

Whisper Edit Delete Close

The bed can be a cause, but its not common at all. It has to be super soft like a hydro-bed or something to do some real damage. And it still wont make a big change because you are relaxed when you are sleeping so it doesnt really affect your posture. Tensing up and stressing over little things tend to affect your posture more, throughout the day. 


If you already have a bad posture, sleeping with no pillow will do even more damage because you are aggressively fighting the problem. You need to make small little changes that are easy for your body to accept, and gradually you wont need a pillow for sleeping. The most important thing is to realize you have a bad posture and make small steps to fix it :)

JoeHurricane
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Posture is important for sure!

When you think about it, it isn't really hard to have good posture. Like lifting, a lot of it comes down to your mindset.

Awesome article Kostas, I think this will help a lot of people

Cablaze25
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thank u very much Whisper. U helped me to understand more about the root of the problem. Great article

Whisper
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A lot of people requested this lately so here you go! Maybe you only wanted a couple of exercises but it's a little bit more complicated than that.
Thanx for reading.


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