Ed Williams – strength and conditioning coach
Training the posterior chain is important, especially the erectors and lower back that often get neglected. Some of my favorite movements are done using a variety of back extension movements, seated good mornings, and Romanian deadlift variations.
Peter Ingleton – strength and conditioning coach
To improve posture, include these four exercises in your training:
- Strict rows. Any kind of strict row will do. Pulldowns and pull-ups are NOT substitutes for rows. Rowing is essential, and the more bench pressing you do, the more you need to row.
- Face pulls using a pulley, a suspension trainer, or resistance bands. When performed properly, these are superb exercises for the upper back; a strong upper back is crucial for good posture.
- The Trap 3 exercise, as popularized by Charles Poliquin. This is a humbling exercise for the lower traps, which are typically under-developed, contributing to poor posture.
- Bent-over lateral raises. A classic exercise for the rear deltoids, another muscle that is often ignored and underdeveloped, contributing to poor posture.
These exercises work together to eliminate common muscle imbalances and promote good posture. Make sure you also pay attention to core and glute strength as well.
Dr. Borys Chambul – A former Olympic athlete, champion discus thrower, and Canadian record holder
I’m a big fan of foundation posture exercise, alongside chiropractic adjustments.
Alex Nurse – A strength and athletic development coach
Alex shared a drill to help eliminate forward head posture:
In the quadruped position with the hands under the shoulders and the knees beneath the hips, a dowel is placed along the back and the individual is instructed to adjust their posture so that the dowel makes contact with the top of the hips and the apex of the thoracic spine. The individual is then instructed to tuck the chin and pull the back of the head and neck toward the ceiling so that the head also makes contact with the dowel.
There should now be three points of contact with the dowel at the hip, t-spine, and back of the head; as well as small spaces of no contact between the dowel and both the lumbar and cervical spine. For those with forward head posture, this postural drill drives activation and awareness into the thoracic extensors and deep neck flexors, providing feedback as to what it feels like to hold the head and neck in proper alignment.
See the full article and video here.
Lee Boyce – strength coach, speaker, and internationally published author
Train using pull-related exercises twice as often as often as you train using push-related exercises. Train horizontal pull exercises twice as often vertical pull exercises.
Geoff Girvitz – founder Bang Personal Training and Dad Strength
Weight training—along with other higher-intensity activities—will strengthen whatever postures and positions they’re trained from. Choose accordingly.
When in doubt, start by exploring whether you feel tension emanating from the centre—or a point of contact like the feet—outward. Movement is, of course, nuanced but this is a good default strategy.
Immediate tension in your neck, traps, low-back, etc. may indicate room for improvement.
Larry Vinette – professional athlete at IFBB Professional League, coach at Pro Gym
I think activation of the extensor chain with the superman and bird dog exercises are best to re-balance the flexor/extensor ratio, therefore improving posture.
Dr. Joel Seedman – one of the foremost names in the performance, fitness, and health industries
Probably the most simple yet effective method I have for helping folks with posture is simply crushing lots of rows and RDLs. Both of these are necessary staples in my training and that of my clients, as well as my athletes. Besides improving function throughout the entire body, they both target postural muscles of the upper back and posterior chain. For rows, this includes any horizontal pull such as incline rows, seated cable rows, barbell bent over rows, single arm rows, and more. For RDLs, this includes any of the traditional variations including barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell and even trap bar. In fact, with the trap bar, because the handles are placed to the sides of the body rather than in front, many folks find it easier to lock in their posture.
With this in mind, it’s critical that during rows and RDLs that the spine and shoulders are set and locked in. This includes retracting and depressing the shoulders while still allowing natural scapular rhythm. Also, while it’s important to fully extend the arms and create natural protraction, too many folks allow the shoulders to round over when extending the arms. Keep perfect posture throughout even during the extended position. Lastly, make sure to only row to roughly 90 degrees. Over-rowing is one of the most common issues and can lead to tight traps and internal rotation of the shoulders, which actually compromises shoulder function. Row to roughly 90 degrees and you’ll create the strongest back contraction without sacrificing alignment or posture.
John Paul Catanzaro – one of the premier trainers in Canada and my fitness guru
In order for you to improve your posture, you must first become aware of your posture and any bad habits that you may have developed. So, I suggest that you check your posture, no matter where you’re at – whether you are sitting, standing, or lying down – every 20-30 minutes (set your watch if you must). You may get into the habit of checking and correcting your posture when the phone rings, when receiving or sending email, during commercials, or even when you are just talking to someone face to face. For example, it is common to lean on one side or stand with most of your weight on one leg; correct this problem by distributing your weight evenly between both legs and stand tall. Simply visualize being pulled up by your head to help straighten out!
A posture corrector may also stimulate your awareness.. Use it as often as you can in and out of the gym. The Potou Back Posture Corrector is one that I recommend.
Kathleen Trotter is a fitness expert, media personality, personal trainer, writer, life coach, and overall health enthusiast
The common misconception is that “good posture” equates to having a “straight fairly rigid spine,” that the goal of “posture training” should be to turn your body into something akin to a military robot. How many times have you heard the word “posture” and almost unconsciously thrown your shoulders back? To create this statuesque ideal, most trainers aim to strengthen the posterior chain and stretch out the chest – i.e. strengthen the muscles that pull you back in space and stretch out the muscles that round you forward. Many will also strengthen the core and work on neck alignment. Some will go so far as to train balance. The better your balance the less likely you will use your vision to tell your brain where you are in space, i.e. the less you will need to look down and round forward. All these are excellent protocols. Most of us need stronger backs and improved head carriage. Based on this, I have included exercises below that will strengthen the core, upper back, and stretch out the chest.
Now, my caveat. The above protocols are not wrong, but they are limited…they are only one part of the posture puzzle.
There is no one perfect posture. Any posture – even one that when assessed on a plumb line by a physio would be considered “ideal” – is no longer ideal if held statically for too long. To quote a physiotherapist I really respect – Dr. Jen Esquer, PT, DPT (@docjenfit on social media), “Your best posture is your next posture.” If you force your body into a static hold it will rebel as readily as if you slouch over your computer for 10 hours. The key is, don’t stay in one position for hours on end. Our tissues do not like to be static. We are not mummies. Blood flow is healthy.
Frame “improving your posture” as improving your body’s ability to move with ease from one position to the other, as improving your body’s capacity to adapt to your surroundings as increasing your body awareness so that you can move in ways that serve you. (i.e. learn to get up from your desk before your body calls out in stiffness and pain).
The takeaway is, if you want to improve your posture make a point of moving around through the day. Stand for a bit. Sit. Walk and talk. Don’t force yourself to hold any one position for hours on end. Become aware of your body. Sit. Stand. Walk. BREATHE!
I would suggest trying to work up to walking 10,000 steps per day.
Ways to weave motion into your day:
- Walk at lunch or with your partner after work.
- Get off one subway stop too soon and walk to your destination.
- Set an alarm to go off once an hour that reminds you to get up and walk around. Get water or go for a stroll around the house/office.
- Take the stairs.
- Walk on your conference calls.
- Get a dog and walk it daily.
- Challenge yourself to do one stretch/core exercise every hour. No excuses! Set an alarm if you need to!
Paul Gagne – posturologist, somatherapist, strength and conditioning specialist, and co-founder of Desmotec Training Systems (DTS)
For most people, good posture is often associated with improved appearance and reduced incidence of low back pain. These benefits are certainly true, but achieving optimal postural alignment is also essential to achieving athletic superiority – or, at least, performing better.
Why this matters
Our lifestyle and poor habits can contribute to imbalances in our feet and our eyes. As such, the information that is sent to your brain is weakened or inaccurate. Unfortunately, your brain depends on the incoming information regardless of its quality. As such, your brain orchestrates suboptimal posture.
We know that the body is constantly fighting the effects of gravity in order to keep you upright. Proper posture allows your body to work efficiently against gravity. On the contrary, poor posture leads to excess energy expenditure in an attempt to stay upright.
You have sensory receptors in the skin of your feet. If you have asymmetry in your feet, your body weight is not being equally distributed through your feet. This means the sensory receptors are not properly stimulated, resulting in inadequate information sent to the brain. Furthermore, asymmetry of the feet can affect the alignment of the joints above and below, such as the knee and the hip.
Our eyes telegraph the position of our head on our shoulders. Muscular imbalances of the eyes also affect the accuracy of the information that is sent to the brain. Activating the mechanoreceptors under the foot with a spiked ball, proprioceptive enhancer, or proprioceptive insoles as well as performing some specific eye movements can have an immediate impact on your posture.
For more in-depth information check out posturepro.co. They have the most complete and comprehensive information and tools to help you evaluate and correct your posture for long lasting results.