How many times have you looked at pictures in fitness magazines or gone online to watch YouTube exercise videos or headed to Pinterest to get ideas of exercises to do to spice up your fitness routine only to find that after you were done doing them, your low back, neck or some other area of your body was hurting you. You have no idea why because you swear you made sure to follow the instructions or mimic the picture exactly with what you read, saw or heard.
The problem is that the pictures or videos you see are showing you exactly how the “perfect” person should look doing the exercise. The instructions you often read or hear are for the “perfect” person who has very few, if any, postural limitations. Ok, so how many “perfect” people do you think are in this world. Well, I can honestly say that after 17 yrs. of personal training, I have yet to meet a client that can do most of the things that are advertised exactly the way they are shown with no modifications.
With sitting being the most popular position for the body these days along with the head down for texting and computers, flexibility and balance have been severely compromised; therefore, modifications are constantly needed when exercising to maintain stability and avoid injury.
Knowing if, when, and what modifications need to be made can be overwhelming for the average person who lacks health and fitness experience. This is why hiring a personal trainer, even for just a few sessions, can be a good investment. A competent, certified, safety-minded and outgoing professional will get you on the right track.
So what makes up a “perfect” posture. Our bodies are designed to be balanced EVENLY both in the front and back of us. A well-tuned body should have the weight evenly distributed between the balls of the feet and heels. Most of the time, however, people carry the majority of their body weight in either just their heels or balls of their feet.
The uneven weight distribution in the feet follows up the body to the knees and butt. When the body is well balanced, the knees will be bent and butt will be out about the same distance. However, when the weight is carried more toward the balls of the feet, the knees are out more than the butt thus putting more strain on the knee joints. Likewise, when the weight is carried more in the heels, the backside is carrying more of the load thus putting more strain on the low back.
From here, the unevenness travels up to the chest and back. Because of the imbalances in the feet and knee/butt distribution, breathing is forced to occur in the chest instead of taking place in the belly where it belongs. This, in turn, creates uneven inhaling and exhaling. More exhaling than inhaling takes place which slowly pushes the shoulders and head forward over time. The head, which weighs somewhere between 12 and 15 lbs, then has to be held up by tension from the neck and shoulders all day long. It makes a person feel like they are carrying an elephant on their shoulders 24/7.
This progression is how our posture slowly evolves over the years without us even knowing it’s happening. It’s when we try to attempt to stay active that these imbalances show up as aches, pains, or injuries. Most people write off these chronic problems as part of aging and accept them when what they need to do is address where they stem from…..loss of stabilization and flexibility over the years from sitting throughout school and then in the work world.
So the next time you attempt to replicate an exercise that you see, hear or watch, know what you are up against regarding your posture and be prepared to modify whatever it is that you are trying to do.
Better yet, invest time into permanently correcting your posture so you can avoid future injuries. Hire a qualified trainer that has a strong knowledge of stabilization and flexibility to show you how to do it. Remember, exercising your body is like building a house. You always start at the foundation and build upward. You would never build a house from the top down so don’t do the same thing to your body.