Unfortunately correcting posture isn’t as simple as arching your back over a foam roller, and stretching your quads once a day. These movements can be good for the right person, but a systematic and long-term approach needs to be adopted to see any significant progress with your posture.
A phrase that resonates with me regarding training, correcting posture, and life, in general, is “be impatient for action, and patient for outcomes” – Pete Dupuis CSP. We live in a world of instant gratification, but when it comes to correcting the posture you’ve been stuck in for years, you need to trust and commit to the process for long-term results.
In this 4-part series, I’ll be taking you through the 4 principles, and the process we follow at State of Fitness to help our clients with their posture. To kick things off, I think it’s best to dive into the discussion with a video.
How Breathing Helps You Move Better
You might be thinking “Dylan, I know how to breathe” and yes of course you do, but breathing in the correct positions – with alignment between the diaphragm and the pelvic floor – is more uncommon than it seems. When you put your body in a good position to be successful – demonstrated in the diagram below – coupled with 360 expansion of the abdominal cavity when inhaling and exhaling, it allows you to tap into a branch of the autonomic nervous system, which is the “rest and digest” parasympathetic nervous system. This allows your body to relax, and reduce muscle tone, which is vital when accessing new ranges of motion for postural correction.
This is a topic I can go on for days so here’s a short video on the importance of breathing.
Positional Breathing For Better Posture
As a rule of thumb, we prescribe our positional breathing exercises based on how clients represent regarding the extension, and flexion of their spine. Clients that present with an extension bias posture (shown in the 1st example to the right) need more flexion to get them into a neutral position, and clients that present with a flexion bias posture (shown in 2nd example to the right) need more extension to get them into a neutral position.
Positional Breathing For Flexion Bias
Here is one of our go-to breathing drills to help get our clients out of flexion. You can also try it out with your elbows on the edge of a chair/bench for some added triceps length. We want the thoracic spine to move so maintain tension in your “core” to resist hyperextension through the lumbar spine.
Postional Breathing For Extention Bias
For clients that present with an extension bias posture then this is a great drill to do to add some much-needed spinal flexion. Depending on how extended you are, you may need to round the thoracic spine/upper back more like what is demonstrated in the video below.
- Breathing can help reduce muscle tone, stress, and access new ranges of motion.
- Maintain a neutral position between the diaphragm and pelvic floor is important for correct breathing mechanics and reducing sympathetic tone.
- If you live in extension, then you’ll need some more flexion, and if you live in flexion, then you’ll need more extension to bring you back to neutral.
Building awareness and stability of a neutral abdominal cavity will set you up for success with your posture and training in and outside of the gym. I know this series can really help so if you have any questions, please feel free to get in contact or leave a comment.
All the best,