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Help With Posture

Help With Posture

When I hired my trainer, Ryan Watson, in Tampa Florida, we were in mid-exercise when we noticed a very attractive female walk by with very poor posture. Ryan looked at me at said, “There is nothing sexier than good posture. Look how hot that girl is and look how bad her posture is. That is such a turn off”. I never in a million years thought males took female posture into account.

Bad posture is easy to obtain as many common daily activities require repetitive use of the same muscles. This can lead to muscle imbalances, reduced flexibility, and leaves us more susceptible to injury.

Think of the times we are required to lift our arms towards the front of our body. Eating, washing our hair, cleaning the dishes and brushing our teeth just to name a few. When we continually use the same muscles, we tend to neglect the others. Similarly, if we spend a lot of the day driving, watching tv, or sitting at a desk our muscles tighten up because we are constantly in the same position. This lack of range of motion can lead to tightening of your postural muscles resulting in poor posture, rounding our shoulders, and a pelvic tilt.

Beyond esthetics, a strong back leads to years of health and mobility.

Good posture:

  • helps decrease the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces, preventing arthritis
  • lessens the stress on the ligaments holding the joints of the spine together
  • prevents the spine from becoming fixed in abnormal positions
  • causes the muscles in your back to be used more efficiently
  • keeps bones and joints in the correct alignment so that muscles are being used properly

Poor posture leads to:

  • rounding of the shoulders, involving the posterior deltoids
  • tightening of the latissimus dorsi, causing rounding known as hunchback or Kyphosis
  • numbness in the legs
  • pain in the leg, neck and back

Since we are planning on engaging in postural muscle strength activities in an effort to improve posture, we should understand what we are trying to achieve. If all it took to improve posture was exercise, why do so many people at the gym have bad posture?

Typically, the exercises we choose are not focused on postural muscle strength. The most common muscle imbalances come from having a sedentary lifestyle in which sitting is dominant. When you are sitting, your muscles shorten. With prolonged sitting, your muscles become tight and cause a disturbance not only on the opposing muscle, but also with the entire musculoskeletal system.

Common Problems with Muscles Involved in Imbalances

Weak Upper & Middle Back here we are dealing with weak trapezius muscles and the rhomboids. This could be due to lack of exercise or doing too many chest exercises. Each muscle has an opposing muscle or muscle that works opposite of it. If you are doing too many chest strengthening exercises, you will cause muscle imbalances. Our pec major is our traps and rhomboids antagonist.

Tight Hip Flexors-here we see the pelvis rotating anteriorly and this too is due, in large, to sitting for extensive periods. Tight hip flexors in turn do a lot of abdominal work, making your core exercises useless. What also occurs is weakening of the glutes as these are the hip flexors opposing muscle.

Tight Hamstringscommonly, the hamstrings take over the normal functions of the glutes and hip flexors as the hamstring is the synergistic (helper) muscle to the hip flexors. Here we will be prone to injury. Sitting absolutely shortens the muscles, causing tightness. Any tightness in the hamstring makes gains in the gym near impossible.

What to do:

  • Those who have their shoulders coming forward, should practice flexibility and retract their shoulders during exercise.
  • Create balance by incorporating every muscle into your workout, with the same amount for each opposing muscle.
  • Strengthen your core. With a strong core, you will maintain proper alignment.
  • Strengthen your glutes. Your glutes are the largest muscle in the body. Since we all do a lot of sitting, we need to focus on strengthening our glutes to ensure they are dominating when need be.
  • Better your flexibility. The best way to relieve tension is though stretching.

*Note- a stretch is opposite of the function of the muscle

Take Home Message:

Sit up keeping the head straight, not forward or to the side. Bring your shoulders back and relax them down. Sit with legs parallel (not turned out) and shoulder width apart. Keep your pelvis aligned by engaging your abdominals. Get up and stretch every hour if you are sitting for any longer than one hour. Every twenty minutes reach your arms straight, feeling the lengthening of the spine. Strengthen your back and core muscles and make sure to maintain balance through all opposing muscles exercises. Know why you are doing what at the gym or in your home workout.

Train Smart!

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Join the discussion 15 Comments

  • good job and very thoughtful

  • Kimberly says:

    As a Doctor of Chiropractic Neurology I understand the importance of posture. Desk jobs and poor sitting habits can habituate these problems. Long rides on airplanes across The Continent can induce some of the same problems even in the healthiest of people. Check out Ryan and Adam’s buddy Scott Sonnon’s Intu-flow to learn the closest way of giving yourself an “adjustment” of each and every joint every day. It only take about 8 minutes to go through your whole body, break up adhesions, remove fixations, wash the joints with synovial fluid and increase lymphatic/ blood circulation flow. And, don’t forget the basics from Dr. Kareem Samouri of muscle balancing. It’s all about the frequency of firing your brain and receptors to gain and maintain plasticity of your nervous system (that runs everything in the body). Also, your muscles are an extension of your brain. That’s why there are so many receptors in them AND your joints. I hope you are feeling better ans this helps you and others.
    I really enjoy your workouts and treasure the time and research you have put into them. Keep up the fantastic work. Good Job!
    Dr. Kimberly Gordacan

  • While pursuing a degree in health and wellness, I had the priviledge to intern at a physical therapy clinic here in Phoenix. While my classroom work related to posture was very “eye-opening”, the follow up lessons the physical therapist taught me were incredible. Being so totally fascinated with the body when it comes to muscles and movement, I was like a sponge absorbing it all. And I even picked up on the ability to spot muscle weaknesses based on the posture a patient was maintaining.

    Now, when I see people walking on the street or working out in the gym, I can’t help but look at how they move and exercise and analyze what’s happening with their posture. To me it’s very amazing.

    What I’ve learned regarding good and bad posture as well as proper training to avoid problems and pain in my body has been extremely beneficial to me personally as well. Since coming to understand the importance of this issue, I try to pass on that knowledge to others who may be interested in learning it whenever possible.

    I have to agree with your trainer too…good posture IS an attractive feature for both women AND men. Guys with large muscles may be impressive, but if they’re hunch over, one shoulder higher than the other, or with shoulders pulled forward anteriorly…I would likely turn away rather than do a double take.

    I also second Dr. Kimberly’s comment. I love these posts Flavia, and the fact that you provide the information from a place of knowledge. That to me is huge. Keep up the great work. We need it. 🙂

    Thank you,


    • Flavia says:

      Thank you for taking the time to post and everyone, please feel free to share your knowledge. The more expertise, the better!

  • Debbie Thiessen says:

    Dear Flavia,
    This is an excellent article and very important for us to know. It is great if you can start these habits when you are young! Thank you for the good info and hope you have a speedy recovery!
    Blessings, Debbie

  • Hey! Great post Flavia.

    I find it very unattractive when girls have poor posture. It exudes negativity. I believe that having great posture is extremely important in conveying self worth and confidence. Qualities that regarded as highly attractive.


  • Posture is very important. I work at it all the time. It makes the chance of an injury less I think.

  • lesley f says:

    Thanks to all for recognizing the importance of posture. The good postural habits that we get into are paramount for injury prevention and if nothing else wiill make our general physical health much better. I work in golf specific fitness and have had fantastic results when applying the correct upper and lower body exercise prescriptions relating to the postural muscles. Keep up the good work!

  • Celeste says:

    I always had horrible posture, my mom always yelled at me to stand up straight. A few years ago I got injured and under my right shoulder blade and up to my neck, which spread to my left side. I get accupuncture to help with the pain. After doing your workouts, my shoulder and neck don’t hurt as much all the time. Now they are just sore once in awhile especially when I don’t sleep right.
    I love your workouts, and I love the videos and how you do the whole 10 sets for each workout in each set because then I just follow along and rewind. I stopped it for a week because to transition into another program, didn’t work well, so then I started yours again and I was so tired it was crazy.

    After the workouts should I only stretch out the muscles that were used in the workout or is it fine to do a complete body stretch that stretches muscles that weren’t focused on in the workout?

    I love your workouts! 🙂 I feel so much better on the days that I work out then the days I don’t, especially when I wake up early in the morning (6:30) to start my day off with your work outs 🙂

    • Flavia says:

      Hi Celeste, thanks for sharing! You should do a full body stretch but make sure you at least stretch out the muscles that were used during the workout. Have some kick butt mornings!

  • Clea says:

    Hi Flavia,

    I am having problems with my knees when doing the squatting exercises in flavilicious fitness, i am getting pains whilst doing these and the day after also. As far as i’m aware my form is correct whilst doing the exercises, can you help?


    • Flavia says:

      You coud always have a trainer at the gym see your form to make sure it is proper. Don’t squat too low if you are having knee issues and try getting some ART (active release therapy). You may just have tight hip flexors.

  • Alla says:

    Hi what a great website! I absolutely love it! I have a question regarding proper posture during a workout.
    I struggle with pains in the lower back when l lift weights and/or do abs. I try do have a good posture during a workout: straight back, stomach tight, knees bent and I try to do my abs correctly as well. but no matter what i end up with a lot of pain particularly in my lower back and muscle relaxants do not help. It feels like my lower spine is hurting and is very stiff. Do you have any idea why this is happening and what i can do to sop it?

    Thank you


    • Flavia says:

      Hey Alla,
      It could be your feet or other muscles in your legs are tight and need some relaxing. I 100% recommend ART (active release therapy) may set you back $50 but it is sooooo worth it. Try to give your leg muscles a good stretch but often times it is our feet that need some strengthening exercises because of the shoes we wear. An ART will help with that.

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