October 1, 2013

Poor Posture

Posture is the key to maintaining proper balance of the muscles and joints, especially for the spine. Three spinal curvatures help to maintain the spine: the cervical lordosis, the thoracic kyphosis, and the lumbar lordosis. Maintaining these curves with proper strengthening and stretching exercises helps place the weight of your body in the proper position.

An imbalance in this chain of muscles creates a vicious cycle of muscle fatigue and pain over the neck, mid-back, and lumbar spine and predisposes the area to injury. Most of the postural exercises are relatively simple movements that work the intrinsic muscle of the spine (deeper muscle along the vertebrae). These simple but effective exercises maintain good posture and preventing injuries when done correctly on a regular basis. Exercises include axial retraction, axial retraction with rotation and bilateral lateral flexion for the cervical spine.

The thoracic spine and lumbar spine are addressed with flexion and extension exercises in the “hands and knees position” (all fours) to strengthen and stretch involved muscles. The lumbar spine can be targeted in both the prone (face down) and supine (face up) positions.

Advancement of postural exercises can be performed on a rocker/wobble board, foam roll and an exercise/Swiss ball to add an increased degree of difficulty. Recent research states that exercises for posture should be focused on higher repetitions rather than resistance. It is important to do more repetition per exercise than increasing the load or weight to the exercise. As with all exercises performed, movements should be made slow and deliberant; short ballistic (quick) movements should be avoided to prevent injury.