Posture and a Bigger Powerlifting Total

All the strength in the world won’t help you move big weight if your posture is dysfunctional.

Traditionally, strength is defined as the maximal amount of force that can be produced by muscles in a single effort. Power is a product of both strength and speed. Power and strength are developed through repetition and stressing the musculature until gains are seen.

This is all well and good in a world filled with perfectly functional and aligned bodies. But what about in today’s modern world? We spend all our time when we are not at the gym sitting, hunched over our cell phones and computers, or in the car.

A dysfunctional, misaligned, heavily compensated body may appear to be strong. But these dysfunctions will inevitably lead to injury at some point. Strength and power are important, but if one cannot return to the sport and repeat the lift or the activity, then looking strong and powerful is worthless.

Poor Posture Sabotages Strength

There is a direct relationship between function and strength. In 1947, The Posture Committee of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons defined good posture as:

“…the state of muscular and skeletal balance which protects the supporting structures of the body against injury.”

They defined poor posture as:

“…a faulty relationship of the various parts of the body which produce increased strain on the supporting structures and in which there is less efficient balance of the body over its base of support.”

In this article, I will show you two posture exercises that you can incorporate into your strength-building routine. These two exercises are just a start, and by no means do they encompass a full, well-rounded posture corrective routine.

If this is your first time addressing posture, try using these exercises as benchmark posture assessments. Can you do the movements shown properly, and can you move through the intended ranges of motion?  If not, what is this telling you about your body and your training? The next step in taking on improving your posture is to work with a coach who can help you to develop a customized, well-rounded posture routine to incorporate into your training plan.

Exercise Instructions

Standing Elbow Curls

This exercise unlocks the shoulder blades by moving the shoulder joints through a full range of protraction and retraction. This exercise will help to improve shoulder mobility and will help you to stand straighter.

  1. Stand at a wall with your heels, hips, upper back and head against the wall. Your feet should be pointed straight and hip-width apart.
  2. Curl your fingers into the palms of your hands by bending at the second knuckle (be sure to watch the video to see what this looks like). Place your knuckles against your temples with your thumbs pointing down to your shoulders.
  3. Open and pull back your elbows so that they are against the wall, then close your elbows together in front of your face.
  4. Keep your elbows up at shoulder level, do not let them drop down.
  5. Repeat 25 times.

Hip Crossover Stretch

This exercise stretches and strengthens the lateral hip musculature while rotating the pelvis and spine. Even the shoulders are getting benefit from this exercise because with the palms down the scapula are having to work to stabilize the upper body in this position.

  1. Lie on your back with both knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, pointed straight ahead.
  2. Place your arms out to the side at shoulder level, with your palms down and flat on the floor.
  3. Cross your right ankle over your left knee and rotate the ankle/knee junction down toward the floor.
  4. Your right foot should now be flat on the floor, along with the outside of your left leg.
  5. Do not let your left foot slide across the floor as you rotate your ankle/knee junction down toward the floor. See the accompanying video for a visual on what this looks like.
  6. Look in the opposite direction and relax your neck and shoulders.
  7. Press the right knee away from your body using the right hip muscles. Do not use your hand to press your knee away from your body.
  8. Hold for 1 minute, then switch sides and repeat.

I hope you enjoy these exercises, and that you are able to make them a part of your regular training routine. You will find that they will make a big difference for you over time. For more on posture, sports, injury prevention, and fixing posture through exercise, check out The Egoscue Method of Health Through Motion by Pete Egoscue.

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Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this article is to promote broad reader understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.