Sit up straight, pull your shoulders back, stick your chest out. These are all things that we have heard when people speak about correcting bad posture. These postural cues are effective at getting people to recognize their bad postural habits, however they do not fix the weaknesses or dysfunctions in the body that cause poor posture. We can address this issue with specific exercises that can alleviate pain and lead to better overall well-being.
I myself was diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis at a young age, a disorder that causes severe curvature of the spine. As a result of this disorder, I had the posture resembling the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Following surgery I focused on maintaining my corrected posture through numerous exercises and stretches. To this day my posture has improved tremendously by using some of the exercises I will share with you below.
Poor posture is typically brought on by the effects of poor daily habits that are displayed in the musculoskeletal system. These habits can include chronic sitting or staring at the computer, prolonged driving, lack of exercise, backpack use, working only your mirror muscles or an overall lack of activity. Muscles on the back side of the body are typically under worked, while muscles on the front side of the body, the mirror muscles, are overworked. As a result of these imbalances your head starts to lean forward, your shoulders round, your pecs become tight, and your hips loose alignment. Any one of these issues can force the body to compensate by recruiting other muscles, which over time can develop into larger issues and possibly even an injury.
Pain is commonly displayed in the neck, shoulders, lower back, knees and heels. Your body is programmed to avoid pain, so the body tries to regain the strength and stability that should be present from the muscles in the posterior part of the body by tightening the posterior muscles to protect the body from injury. This is one of the main reasons the majority of the population claim to have tight hamstrings and calves. If we can strengthen these muscles while increasing their flexibility, your posture will improve. Thus, the pain in problem areas will go away and your overall feeling of well-being will improve dramatically.
Pain in the neck can be attributed to lack of strength in the musculature surrounding the neck and upper back. As we sit at the desk all day, our head slowly starts to drift forward. These muscles from our neck, down to the middle portion of the back become fatigued and are not strong enough to support the head. Neck pain is typically located in the upper traps or levator scapulae, whose function is to hold the head in a upright position. Strengthening these muscles will help alleviate neck pain and allow you to maintain an upright posture.
Try these exercises to strengthen the muscles of the neck.
Weakness in the muscles that pull your shoulder blades together contribute to rounded shoulder posture. This also occurs if you train the muscles of the chest more often than the muscles of the back. By training your back muscles more often, specifically your rhomboids and lower traps, while stretching your chest muscles you can correct your rounded shoulder posture. Generally a ratio of 2 back exercises to 1 chest exercise is recommended to correct muscular imbalances.
Try these exercises to strengthen the muscles on the back side of your body.
Try these stretches for your chest
Lower back pain is a complaint that the majority of the population will have at some point in their life. This commonly occurs because the glutes and hamstrings are not strong enough to support the body and keep the pelvis in proper alignment. Weakness in the posterior chain (the muscles located on the back of the body) causes the pelvis to rotate away from a neutral position, which puts excess stress on the lower back to maintain an upright posture. If you experience lower back pain, strengthening your glutes and hamstrings will help take the stress off of the lower back by keeping the pelvis in a neutral alignment and keep your back healthy.
Do these exercises to strengthen the glutes and hamstrings
Poor posture is something that plagues us all. Life is stressful and the stress of life can manifest in your body and lead to chronic issues if your poor posture is left unchecked. Luckily the majority of postural issues can be corrected with simple exercises a couple times a week. These exercises alone will help you target the problem areas, however if you do not change your daily habits, postural issues will plague you for the rest of your life. So get up off the coach or from behind your desk and get moving, ride a bike instead of drive to work and work all the muscles of your body not just the ones you can see in the mirror. Most of all enjoy what you are doing, because if you do not find a feeling of enjoyment from exercise it will always feel like burden.
Transformation. Mind, body, and spirit are directly related to the balance of each other. My father has always told me that you can do anything you want if you set your mind to it. We all have the power within to attract what we want in life, as well as what we do not want. As Dr. Wayne Dyer says, “Be careful what you wish for because you’re going to get it.” The energy you project out into the world will be exactly the type you receive back into your life. Your quality of life is what it is because of your thoughts, your energy, your health, and your lifestyle. Transformation doesn’t happen overnight but everyone has to start somewhere. Start where you are with what you have. Do not wait for something to change. “Don’t wait for an external change to make an internal move.”-Zig Ziglar. The time will never be just right; you have to want the change. You have to want to see the transformation take place in your life. Create a plan, maybe just start out writing down some thoughts about where you want to be in 3 months from now, a year, then 3 years, and 10. It’s funny how things begin to flow out of your mind and on to that sheet of paper or computer screen. As soon as you start thinking and writing, the energy begins to pour out and flow in the exact direction of your thoughts.
What are your dreams? Your dream job? Your dream car? Your dream fitness level? Write them down and post those dreams, ideas and goals all around the house. What do you do first thing in the morning? Those goals should be right there staring you in the face to remind you, to help you hold yourself accountable. It is only you that can create this change, create this momentum of positive action. Of course you’re going to have your up days and your down days. This is not an easy process but it is absolutely achievable. If being fit, healthy, and positive was easy then everyone would do it. Losing 20lbs takes EFFORT, it takes FOCUS and you have to TAKE ACTION. Getting to that next level takes DISCIPLINE, it takes HARD WORK, and it takes COMPROMISE. Everyone has the ability to change his or her current status to a higher, healthier, happier level.
Do not just settle for where you are, even if you think it’s great, it can be BETTER. You must change internally to move forward, you must make compromises to fully transform your life. You must be willing to skip out on the happy hours and hit the gym for an hour. You do not have to jump into training for a marathon. You can start small if you have to by getting outside and walking. You don’t have to change your entire group of friends. Start by not being the crutch for that one person in your group of friends, co-workers, or family anymore.
Starting with small, obtainable goals will help you to reach your overall transformation. Dave Ramsey always says “Live like no one else, so you can live like no one else.” This is one of my top five favorite quotes. I love motivational and inspiring quotes from great leaders. Just as you can post your goals somewhere visible to continuously stay conscious of your direction and progress, you can post positive, uplifting quotes as well. It’s simple; don’t think too long about this process. Use a quote as your screensaver, desktop, laptop, or Smartphone background. Post them on a sticky note at your desk or office, on the dashboard of your car, or on the mirror in the bathroom. If you take these little steps to create change and momentum in your life, you become an enthusiastic, motivated, positively contagious person. You start to impact your friends, family, and co-workers without even knowing it. You literally exude an energy that everyone around you can feel. All you have to do is start, there is no deadline to complete a transformation, it is an ever-evolving journey. Nobody is perfect and there is no flawless way to live. You can however improve your own life and the lives of those you around you, you can take the reigns and point them in another direction. You can lose that weight, you can get that job or promotion, you can be a great father or mother, you can eat healthier, you can be a leader. You can transform your life. The start line is right here, right now. You are the one with the power to change, transform, and create the life, the mindset, and the body you have always wanted.
In 2006 I watched Apolo Anton Ohno speed skate in the Winter Olympics and thought, “Man I could do that, I like speed, I like active, aggressive sports.” So I went to a local speed skating organization and asked if I could practice with them. After letting me skate for all of about five minutes with them, they quickly learned I had no clue what I was doing and everyone got a pretty good laugh out of it. So I thought, Ok, I am not meant to be an Olympic speed skater but I chose to try. Though I gave it my best I was pretty bummed out. All of a sudden I developed this passion to find a sport I was good at and start competing. I tried everything from power lifting to motocross but couldn’t seem to find a sport where I excelled and was able to compete against the best. That was until the 2010 Winter Olympics came along. I was sitting on the couch watching Seth Wescott (two time Olympic Gold medalist) dominate the field in men’s Boardercross. I was unfamiliar with the sport but it is very similar to motocross, but performed on snow. I googled local boardercross events and set out to try one more sport. I won all four races I entered that season and ended up qualifying for the United States of America Snowboard Association (USASA) Nationals in Colorado. It has been two years now and I have qualified for and competed at Nationals two seasons in a row, completely surprising myself. It is a true testament to what you can accomplish if you choose a goal, focus, persevere and set your mind to it. It may have taken me four years but I did it. It was not easy struggling through my own personal battles, as I am sure it is not easy for you.
Start your transformation right now, create your vision, commit it to paper and persevere. You CAN do anything you want if you set your mind to it.
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This article was written by certified trainer, Adam Foote
Twenty-one. That is a great number. If you’re like me, you probably have some great memories of when you turned 21 (and maybe some memories you don’t remember, haha). It feels like you’ve just walked through the door of adulthood into a world of possibility. You feel like you are invincible, like you can do anything.
Now, imagine if you could feel the same way you did when you were 21—like you can succeed at whatever you set your mind to regardless of the obstacles. Now, think of your goals, mainly your health and fitness goals. It’s a new year after all, so what do you want to accomplish this year? Do you want to lose weight for your high school reunion? Do you want to get a flat tummy and tone up for the summer? Do you want to have more energy to get through the day? Whatever your goal is, my Happy Hour Boot Camp 21 Day Program can help you attain your goals!
When I reflect on my lifestyle, I usually exaggerate the positive and minimize the negative. It sounds something like, “I eat pretty healthy” when in reality, you gave into the ice cream last night or you skip breakfast and then binge on chips and candy during your lunch break. This is one of the key factors that seek to sabotage your weight loss goals.
Or maybe you are a mindless eater. You sit at your computer desk or in front of the TV and before you know it, the bag of chips is gone and there’s no more candy left on your desk. Or you may be short on time and TV dinners and cans of soup are the culprits for your growing waistline as they can have hidden sugar, salt and tons of calories. But don’t stop reading because there is hope!
I’m confident that I can teach you that what and when you eat is way more important than counting calories. At the Happy Hour Boot camp, you not only get a great workout to jump start your body into a fat burning inferno, but you get nutrition advice, healthy and realistic recipes and great tips to help you stay on track. And best of all, you’ll never have to exaggerate when you say “I’m a healthy eater”!
Think about your goals. Does the thought of it scare you? Does it seem impossible? One thing I do my Boot Camp Program is break down your goals into realistic, doable steps. It’s a great feeling to keep getting closer and closer to your dreams!
By breaking a big goal into smaller goals, you will find that you will gain momentum, be encouraged when you reach your smaller goal as well as more committed to sticking with it to reach your ultimate weight loss or fitness goal. That’s the beauty of the 21 Day Boot Camp Program! Another thing that we offer is accountability and motivation. Before you know it, twenty-one days will fly by and before you know it, your body is toned and you’ve reached your weight loss goal.
Yes, Twenty-one is a great number!
E-mail me or comment on this post to find out more on how YOU can be a part of this!