Questions about improving posture

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damnregistering
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Questions about improving posture

Post by damnregistering » Fri Dec 09, 2011 5:18 pm

Hello all,

I am in a long journey to improve my horrible posture. I have been reading the guide on ExInfo/Posture.html but I am a bit confused about certain parts in the article. In the part about kyphosis it gives a link to some corrective exercises:

Strengthening of thoracic vertabral column extensors
Stretching of thoracic vertabral column flexors


In the first link it says you should strenghten your lower back/Erector Spinae. But on the other hand one of the symptoms of lordosis is short erector spinae muscle, so you want to do some lower back stretches. So here I am a bit confused, to correct kyphosis you want to strenghten the lower back but for lordosis you want to stretch it? Doesn't strenghtening the lower back make it shorter? Or is ok to strenghten it, if you do some heavy duty stretching?

In the second link (Stretching of thoracic vertabral column flexors ) it says that you should stretch your Rectus Abdominis muscle. Now this doesn't make any sense to me. Why should you stretch this muscle to correct kyphosis?

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Re: Questions about improving posture

Post by Jungledoc » Sat Dec 10, 2011 9:33 pm

Why should you stretch this muscle to correct kyphosis?
cause it pulls your ribcage closer to your pelvis, thus increasing spinal flexion.

Don't stretch your low back. Just learn to do all your lifts with the low back in neutral position.
Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter.--Francis Chan

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Re: Questions about improving posture

Post by Harpoon » Sat Dec 31, 2011 6:45 pm

i'm in your position and i'd just like to chime in that it's not possible to fix your normal, relaxed, neutral posture

I looked into Assess and Correct and the whole "mobility" craze (selling false hope), I looked into T-nation's 'neanderthal no more' .. even on this site if you go to "lordosis" etc it will say "strengthen glutes, stretch hip flexors" etc like everywhere else. But it doesn't work that way. Your spine is your spine. The best you can do, after all that stretching the "tight" muscles and strengthening the "loose" muscles... is forcibly adjust your body into "proper" posture

Here's me totally relaxed:

Image

Here's me with abdominal muscles pulled in and up + glutes contracted (for the lordosis), scapula retracted (for the kyphosis), head pulled back (for the forward head posture).

Image

Looks a lot better, yeah? But unfortunately impossible to maintain for any extended period of time... you get tired, and people notice you're carrying yourself in some uncomfortable, contrived way.

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Re: Questions about improving posture

Post by Oscar_Actuary » Sun Jan 01, 2012 5:53 am

Harpoon,

How long did you spend trying to correct it ? I recall maybe 5 months..
What did you do ?
How consistant were you ?

and you don't look that bad. Life might be pretty good for you if you have this as a complaint.

and anecdotal does not make general fact

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Re: Questions about improving posture

Post by Harpoon » Mon Jan 02, 2012 10:30 am

Like I said, I did assess & correct + neanderthal no more exercises on and off for a couple of years... i wasn't totally consitant but I just wasn't seeing any progress.

assess & correct tells you to press your back and ass against a wall and put your hand between the lumbar spine and the wall to see how much space there is.. it shouldn't be much more than a few fingers but I have the entire width of my hand. That measurement hasn't changed one bit, and yes its an anecdote but logically I don't see the structural curvature of the vertebrae you were born with changing... and that's what it is, unless proven otherwise... there's plenty of people who are slouched over desks and computers all the time yet have "normal" lumbar and thoracic curves so you can't just put it all on tight this or loose that.

and i havent found any studies, any evidence, that this posture "correcting" stuff works. Like I said, you can force yourself into a position, but once you relax, you're back to your "normal" stance, no other way to slice it...

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Re: Questions about improving posture

Post by Jungledoc » Mon Jan 02, 2012 4:32 pm

Oscar_Actuary wrote:and anecdotal does not make general fact
Yeah, but those articles (Neanderthal, etc.) are also based on anecdote, so it's just one anecdote against another.

I'd like to see studies that use lateral spine x-rays (low tech and cheap) before and after. I suspect that such studies would show that Harpoon is right.

I'd also like to see something that addresses deterioration of posture with age. That's where I suspect that the exercises would make a difference. Don't know, just my guess. Worse than anecdotal.
Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter.--Francis Chan

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Re: Questions about improving posture

Post by Oscar_Actuary » Mon Jan 02, 2012 11:26 pm

Jungledoc wrote:
Oscar_Actuary wrote:and anecdotal does not make general fact
Yeah, but those articles (Neanderthal, etc.) are also based on anecdote, so it's just one anecdote against another.
.
Yeah ok.
I sorta live with a "this is what I have to work with" attitude. Personally, I have spent little time specifically working to correct my lordosis/kyphosis, but have taken away much of what is written in those NNM pages. I have "confidence" the advise is useful for injury prevention, pain reduction, overall mobility, even if not posture.

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Re: Questions about improving posture

Post by KPj » Tue Jan 03, 2012 7:05 am

Harpoon wrote: yes its an anecdote but logically I don't see the structural curvature of the vertebrae you were born with changing... and that's what it is, unless proven otherwise...
Changing something you were born with is completely different (and in this case i'd agree that you're probably right) from changing something that has been a result of adaptation. Logically, this makes sense. However, what isn't logical is taking something that has changed due to various repetitive demands over a certain amount of time, and being unable to change it back, with various other/opposing repetitive demands over time. If it got there in the first place, then, logically, you can get it back. Most of us were able to do perfect squats and deadlifts when we were toddlers but can't after years of inactivity. We're not stuck with this, it can be reversed.

Anecdotally, I see improvement to at least some extent with every single person I train (i have also quite dramatically improved my own resting posture over the years). I've also had clients tell me they have noticed improvements in posture without me even specifically mentioning static posture to them (i rarely mention static posture with clients, btw) i.e. "i've noticed I stand up much straighter now". Also note that I don't view "posture correction" as a goal in itself. I view it as an indication of weakness and limitation and use this information to help get someone towards their goals. For example, someone with kyphosis will almost always have poor horizontal and vertical pulling strength. Most people I train get "too many" rows but also with the emphasis on getting considerably stronger at the movement and not just doing a bunch of light reps hoping something magical will happen.

Have you ever seen someone with an impressive "middle" back who has a hunched posture? Or someone who can do rows and pull ups with a tonne of weight (and decent form) with a hunched posture?

Similarly, ever seen a bodybuilder who DOESN'T have internally rotated shoulders? (then consider the emphasis on chest and shoulder training in bodybuilders).

My point is - what actually defines or contributes to someones "resting" posture?

In other words - what got you there in the first place? Can it be reversed? (generally something "structural" can't be reversed, btw).
Harpoon wrote: there's plenty of people who are slouched over desks and computers all the time yet have "normal" lumbar and thoracic curves so you can't just put it all on tight this or loose that.
If this is the case, I rarely see them. On those that do have a decent posture, they're almost always quite active outside of work in one way or another (lifting, sport, hobbies).

"tight this or loose that" - I actually agree 100%! You should "think movements, not muscles".

To get more specific, what I think is lacking in most of the information available on correcting posture is the emphasis on strength i.e. it's one thing increasing your push:pull ratio in favour of pulling but are you actually getting stronger in the pulls? If not I don't see it working. This is actually mentioned by the likes of Cressey as is the emphasis on the other 23 hours of the day outside of the gym.

KPj
Thanks TimD

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Re: Questions about improving posture

Post by KPj » Tue Jan 03, 2012 7:10 am

Also, those articles (well, the techniques in them) are pretty much based on information from the likes of Kendal, Sahrmann, Cook, etc (I believe the source of info is referenced at the bottom of the articles. These have mountains of information and references in them. I have never checked the references and have no desire to but, I doubt anyone else has. In other words, there may or may not be studies. If you've checked then, fair enough. I've not dug that deep yet. Just throwing it out there.

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Thanks TimD

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Re: Questions about improving posture

Post by Harpoon » Wed Jan 04, 2012 8:50 pm

dunno, maybe I'm just an extreme case... i can see the forward shoulder posture improving if you shorten the "pulling" muscles enough.. but cause the hips are fixed, and there's so much forcing the lordotic curve, I can't see, logically, how you could improve this curve, how I can decrease the # of fingers I can put between my lowerback in the wall without actively contracting muscles and sucking my stomach in...?

however, after a lot of searching, i found this Spanish study
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21416916" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
which promised improvement (in college age students) with "exercises"
the exercises are not specified
hmm
anyone have any idea? can't find any google reference to these "Pérez-Olmedo" protocol of exercises..

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Re: Questions about improving posture

Post by andy88 » Sat Jan 07, 2012 1:29 pm

@TS, if I were you I'd focus on 1 problem first. If you have excessive ATP fix that first, and vica versa. I don't know how common it is to both have lordosis and kyphosis, because you're not always compensating by rounding over more in the thoracic region when you have lordosis.

@Harpoon, been doing corrective exercises for about 2 months now, and I feel like there's 2 'relaxing postures':
- the one where you breath out and let everything hang loose
- the one where you're not thinking about posture and just walking

The second one has definitely improved for me, and it feels less awkard to walk with the lower abs flexed and glutes slightly pushed in (I'm more focusing on tilting the pelvis into a more neutral state than actually flexing the muscles).

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