Correct posture provides the body with a structural base of support and enhances skill and athleticism. Movements that begin in optimal alignment progress with fluidity and efficiency. In contrast, abnormal posture creates unnatural strength/length relationships between the muscle groups, which causes fatigue, poor form or injury. Abnormal alignment may result from faulty habitual movement patterns, unconsciously mimicking a parent with the same alignment, misconceptions about good posture and unbalanced workout programs. Since it's difficult to objectively evaluate your own posture, have a professional perform a postural analysis before you try any posture correction exercises.
The tripod is used as a diagnostic and therapeutic posture exercise. It identifies and eventually corrects a multitude of postural "sins," which include muscular imbalances between the right and left side of your body, excessive curve or excessive rounding of the lower back, weak core muscles and a forward head position.
The exercise is performed on the hands and knees. If possible, have a friend place a yardstick, a broomstick or a dowel rod on your back so it extends from the top of your head to the base of your spine. Lift your right leg off the floor and straighten it. Simultaneously lift your left hand from the floor and extend the left arm overhead so it is near your left ear. Try not to lean into the opposite side. Engage your core muscles to prevent your lower back from sagging, and keep your head on the same line as your spine. If you are in correct alignment, the stick will stay in place. Perform 16 repetitions, or eight on each side.
The Seated Row
If you work at a computer and spend most of the day hunched over your PC, you might develop an upper body slouch. Unbalanced weight training plans can also create a muscle imbalance that leads to slouching. Many people put a good deal of emphasis on training the pectoral or chest muscles, but spend little time on developing the muscles of the upper back. If you develop the cleavage in the front of the body, you need to create symmetry by developing the same type of cleavage in the back. The seated row accomplishes this task.
You can use the seated row machine at the gym, or you can use a resistance band and perform the exercise at home. Sit in an upright position and wrap the band around your feet. Grab one end with each hand. Bend your elbows, drawing them behind your body. Simultaneously squeeze your shoulder blades together, as if you were trying to catch a pencil between them. Perform three sets of 15 repetitions.
The Pelvic Tilt
The pelvic tilt is an effective exercise for anyone who has excessive curvature of the lower back. Lie on your back on an exercise mat with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, placed at pelvic width apart. Inhale to prepare. As you exhale, draw your belly in and tilt your lower pelvis from the floor, as if you were trying to create a hollow bowl between the pubic bone and your navel. Inhale to return. Perform 20 repetitions each day.
Article Written By Lisa Mercer
In 1999, Lisa Mercer’s fitness, travel and skiing expertise inspired a writing career. Her books include "Open Your Heart with Winter Fitness" and "101 Women's Fitness Tips." Her articles have appeared in "Aspen Magazine," "HerSports," "32 Degrees," "Pregnancy Magazine" and "Wired." Mercer has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the City College of New York.