How To Improve Your Awful Posture & Gain Fantastic Strength

HOW TO IMPROVE POSTURE

First of all you gotta know some things about good and bad posture and how this can influence your strength gains and also your whole muscle mass. People tend to think that this posture thing is not a big deal and it doesn’t matter that much, but this is not true!

You gotta know some things:

1. Bad posture increases muscle strain and tension, as muscles that are not aligned are forced to work harder to fight gravity.

2. Bad posture increases risk of back pain, nerve impingement and slipped disks, because the spine does not have the right curves and balance. While training, this imbalance of curves could lead to injury.

3. Bad posture increases the wear and tear of all joints because they are not moving in the way they are designed to and because the muscles stabilizing the joints do not receive the correct activation from the brain. This breaks down the cartilage and weakens ligaments leading to increased risk of injury such as ligament tears and muscle pulls.

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4. Bad posture (and the above mentioned factors) can increase the production of stress hormones and inflammation in your body. This can lead to lowered immune system function, decreased sleep quality, digestion and energy levels.

Did you know that you cannot actually control your posture? That’s why you will see a parent slap a slouching kid on their back asking them to “stand up straight”, but this only lasts a few seconds before the child goes back to a slouched position.

Posture is controlled by the subconscious parts of our brain, just like balance, heartbeat and breathing; so we can’t actually “try harder” to have good posture. To change posture, we need to change the way our brain perceives what perfect posture is.

The most popular theories cite that we each have our own proper biomechanics. This is coupled with what movement scientists call “length-tension relationship discrepancies.” This phenomenon refers to the difference in length and tension that can be assessed in an individual’s muscles. Some muscles can be dubbed “long and weak” because they cannot fully and forcefully contract, and others are called “short and strong” because they are always in a state of tension at rest.

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Thus, these “length-tension relationships discrepancies” have played a huge part in posture and movement. But how do they shorten or lengthen? How does the body create this situation?

More than just a command system that merely sends signals, scientists are now finding more and more ways in which our afferent (sensory) system plays a huge role in our posture, how we move and, down the road, how we create wear and tear in our machinery.

The body’s afferent (sensory) system relies on two types of captors: exteroceptors, captors that assess the information from the outside world and interoceptors, captors that gather the information from inside the body.

Of the exteroceptors, the foot is one of the most important. The skin of the sole of the foot, as well as all the free nerve endings in the richly-innervated plantar fascia, send a lot of data to your brain regarding your weight distribution which in turn allows our bodies to resists against gravity efficiently.

The feet and ankles form the foundation of the body, which means that if there is a structural or functional problem with the feet or ankles, this could increase the risk of injuries to the knees, hips and lower back.

Posture and Performance

When the body is out of alignment, even if only slightly, all of its joints are misaligned in a compensatory pattern. This phenomenon causes muscles that cross the misaligned joint to contract with less force.

Here’s a fun experiment to do at home for those unconvinced of the need to be symmetrical.

Stand with someone facing you, barefoot on a flat ground without carpet. Have this person raise their arms parallel to the floor, with the wrists extended and the palms facing you.
Take one wrist of your partner firmly in hand, while with the other hand tries to bring their hand into flexion. Proceed slowly to avoid yanking on the hand you’re testing and skewing the results. Do this for both hands and have your partner and yourself note the level of strength needed in order to break his resistance.

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Place 5 sheets of paper under your partner’s feet, and then retest the strength of both wrists. You’ll usually notice that the wrist on the side where the foot is elevated is weaker (you can also perform this experiment with a dynamometer test).

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