Why is Posture Important for our Health?

For those of you who come to my Essentrics classes, you know that I often talk about posture and that we are consistently trying to work on our posture during the workout. The article provides more details around this subject and a clear explanation regarding “good posture” and why it’s so important for our body. 

Very few fitness programs focus on improving posture, and I find this is one of the greatest benefits of Essentrics. We go through exercises that lift the arms above the head and open the chest, pulling and challenging the back muscles which correct poor posture through strengthening and stretching the entire torso. 

Good posture needs regular maintenance, much like the rest of our body, however most of us don’t do anything to change it. Poor posture is a bad habit that does not improve unless we become pro-active, aware and consciously make the change each day. The muscle and ligament imbalances that result from poor alignment and bad posture can lead to all sorts of health problems:

  • Difficulty breathing, as the rib cage is crushed preventing greater lung expansion as we breathe 
  • Decreased energy and fatigue
  • Dropping of the upper back, leading to osteoporosis, atrophy and muscle weakness
  • Chronic back, neck, shoulder pain
  • Headaches
  • Stiffness
  • Digestion issues
  • Foot, knee, hip, and back injuries
  • Nerve compression
  • Sciatica 

Flexibility and strength of the entire upper torso are essential to achieving posture improvement, which is what we work on with Essentrics. Pay attention to your posture! It’s not normal or healthy to go about our lives with hunched over backs, imbalanced bodies, lack of energy, stiffness, muscle atrophy and dealing with pain. 

And let’s not forget that your posture says a lot about your personality, not just how your joints and muscles are working. If you imagine a strong, powerful, and confident person, you see someone standing tall with an open chest and a head held high. How you look and feel is directly related to your posture! 

I have included an image below to illustrate the concept of good posture. Everyone has their own natural curvature in their spine. Many people have "sway back" posture or "thoracic kyphosis" (refer to diagram) and so they must think more about bringing their hips back and pulling their chest more forwards. In both cases we are pulling up out of the lower back and must always make sure the load path from the head and shoulders is going straight down through the hips. Essentially you are trying to line up the shoulders, hips, and ankles.

Have a look at Miranda's mini instructional videos on the Essentrics website - Am I Doing this Right? - "the proper way to stand" and "posture" http://www.essentrics.com/media.html#ins

Hope you have found the above information useful and that it has motivated you to not forget about your posture! 



Why are those leg lifts so difficult???

With the side leg lifts, we are using the abductor, gluteus, hip, and inner thigh gracillis muscles. These muscles tend to be tight, contracted and under used since we are sitting down so much. Even when we walk, we are not really lengthening these muscles. Pulling the leg out and keeping the hip forward during leg lifts is difficult, since it is not a natural position for the muscles to be in. By pulling the leg out we are not only lengthening and strengthening these muscles, but opening up the hip joint, giving us greater range of motion. 

You can think of braces on teeth; it takes time to re-align the teeth by slowly pulling on the jaw muscles and gums to move the teeth. If you leave the teeth as they are, then they will stay in the original position. The side of the legs and hips are the same - they like to be in an easy, comfortable, contracted position, so we pull on the outer thigh muscles to lengthen and strengthen them. 

It never gets easier, because our muscles will always go to the most convenient position on a day to day basis. With each Essentrics class we try to go to the end of our movement and pull the leg out a little further than last time, always challenging the muscles. Leg lifts on the 2nd leg always seem more difficult because we are tired from doing the lifts on the 1st leg. 

Summary of the benefits of side leg lifts:

1) Strengthen & lengthen all muscles around the hip joint, 2) Tone, lengthen, strengthen entire leg and outer thigh, 3) Tone & strengthen abdominal and back muscles, 4) Improve mobility & agility of hip / leg.

Tips for doing leg lifts:

Roll hip forward, pull leg out, lift the leg. Your leg should only lift a few inches if you are doing the movement correctly. Keep your body up and supported with your hands / arms. 

A special thanks to Bev Seymour - Certified Level 4 Essentrics Instructor - for her contribution and input on this article. You can sign up for a class with Bev in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Here is her website for additional information: www.essentricsclasseswithbevinwinnipeg.com