“Stand up straight — good posture is important.” We hear it all the time, but what does it mean? What is this good posture and why do none of us seem to have it? Let’s start by finding out what kind of posture you have. Where do you stand? Are you a “Goose” with your pelvis angled forward and sticking out backward? Are you “On Guard” with your chest far forward and your shoulders too far back? Or are you “Nosey” with your neck angled forward? Where do you stand?
When your ankles, hips, shoulders, and head are lined up comfortably one above the other, your posture is correct. Your knees should not be locked, but slightly bent and your feet should be shoulder width apart. Do not try to consistently force your back into the correct position. Exercise weak muscles and stretch tight ones. Proper posture will come naturally.
The Noodle — Hunched-Back
Problem: The Noodle has compressed chest muscles that are forced to tighten, leading to a strong curvature of the upper back (over 40–45 degrees). This further weakens your upper back muscles and amplifies the problem, potentially leading to kyphosis.
Proper: From a profile, the bottom of your ear should be lined up with the “boney” middle of your shoulder, that’s the AC joint. Your shoulders should be directly above your hips.
Improve: To loosen your neck muscles do some upper trap stretches. The rear delt fly and the Posture Medic punch will also help to strengthen your pectoral and shoulder muscles. The shoulder stretch will help loosen the anterior deltoid muscles to open up your chest.
Nosey, Baby on Board and the Hipster are also prone to having hunched backs.
Nosey - Neck Forward
Problem: Nosey is always nose first, keeping the head in front of the body. Holding your neck so far forward tightens the muscles at the back of your neck and your upper back. These are the upper trapezius and levator scapulae muscles. It’s difficult for your body to maintain this position, which is why the muscles get tight and stiff. This not only leads to neck and back pain, but can also pinch the nerves causing pain in your arms and wrists.
Proper: From a profile, the bottom of your ear should be lined up with the “boney” top of your shoulder, that’s the AC joint. This keeps you head lined up with your body.
The Noodle and On Guard also carry their neck forward.
The Goose — Forward Hip Tilt
Problem: The Goose stands with backside pushed out and has a deeper curve of the lower spine, angling the hips forward (anterior pelvic tilt). This is caused by tight hip flexors that will pull your knees upward. Your hamstrings also get overworked and tighten because your buttocks (gluteal muscles) does not have full range of motion to help compensate as you stand and walk.
Proper: When you stand, your ankles should be directly below your hips with your knees slightly bent. Your hips are positioned correctly when your shoulders are lined up between your shoulders and ankles. Your pelvis will automatically straighten as you align the rest of your body.
Improve: Do lunges to stretch your hip flexors and hamstrings to relieve the pressure and loosen the muscles. If you don’t have the strength or balance for lunges, try the yoga pose pigeon. There are variations for all levels of flexibility and strength to help you slowly stretch and open up your hips. Strengthen your core by doing some planks to help support your pelvic girdle.
Nosey and On Guard also tilt their hips forward.
Baby on Board — Flat Back
Problem: You end up with a flat back when your pelvis is tucked in, preventing the natural curve in your lower back. This is often caused by tight core and hamstring muscles and by weak lower back muscles, quadriceps and buttocks. A flat back can also cause you to hold your head forward leading to forward head tilt.
Proper: Your back is supposed to have a natural “S” curve when examined from the side. Not too exaggerated in any position. Align your head, shoulders, hips and ankles, one above the other to straighten your spine.
Improve: Do the lat stretch to extend the muscles at your side and your core. The rotator cuff exercise, the rear delt fly and the external rotation exercises will strengthen your pectoral and shoulder muscles so that you can hold your chest up and re-establish the natural curve of the spine.
Hipster — Sway Back
Problem: The Hipster stands as though the stomach is pulling the pelvis forward. This throws off your posture and balance. You end up with your shoulders further back and your neck forward as your body is trying to balance itself. This forces your lower back muscles to overcompensate and tighten.
Proper: When you stand, your ankles should be directly below your hips and your knees slightly bent. Your hips are positioned correctly when your hips are lined up with your shoulders and ankles.
Improve: Do the rear delt fly exercise to help strengthen your shoulders. The upper traps stretch will help loosen the muscles in your neck, allowing them to engage properly. You can also do planks, or variations, to strengthen your core muscles.
Back Sway is also prevalent in The Noodle.
On Guard — Chest Out, Shoulders Back
Problem: On Guard has hyper extended pectorals, pushing the shoulders far back. This compresses and tightens the weak upper back muscles. This position leads to back pain due to the weaker back muscles.
Proper: The shoulders should rest naturally in between your back and your chest. The bottom of your ear should be lined up with the AC joint – the “boney” top of your shoulder. By centring your shoulders, as you align your shoulders above your hips, your chest will move back to a proper postural position.
Improve: Stretch all the muscles in your neck and upper back with the neck stretch, the shoulder stretch and the upper trap stretch. This will help loosen all these muscles and allow your shoulders to sit naturally. Now to strengthen your rhomboid, teres minor and teres major muscles do some rotator cuff (3) and rear delt fly exercises. By strengthening these back muscles, you will counter balance the strong pectoral muscles you have already developed, letting you stand properly.
The Goose also stands with shoulders back and chest forward.
Knowing what the problem is and understanding how to fix it is half the battle. Now that you know where you stand, you are well on your way towards stretching and strengthening your muscles to help reduce your pain and feel better every day. Wear your Posture Medic throughout the day to stabilize your posture and help you develop the habit of sitting up straight on your own.
Did these tips help you learn about your posture? Have these stretches and exercises worked for you? Let us know in the comments below!