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Written on November 29, 2010 at 1:00 am, by Eric Cressey
This week, I’ll feature several strategies for correcting bad posture; you should be able to insert these into your weight training programs quickly and easily for immediate results. Here we go…
1. Train more frequently.
Obviously, in many cases, those with bad posture often simply don’t exercise enough, so any motion is good motion. However, this also applies to regular exercisers who hit the gym 3-4 times per week as well. Why?
Well, I do a lot of my “corrective” work in my warm-up programming – and the more often you train, the more often you’ll have to do your foam rolling and mobility warm-ups. So, breaking your training program up into smaller components on more frequent days might be the best way to force yourself to do the things that you need the most to correct bad posture.
2. Use daily mobility circuits.
Along the same lines as the “increase training frequency” recommendation, it’ll never hurt to repeat your mobility warm-ups during your daily life. If you are someone who is really in need of drastic changes, do your warm-ups twice a day, seven days a week (on top of any static stretching you do).
3. Strengthen the deep neck flexors.
When you get stuck in a forward head posture, the deep neck flexors (muscles on the anterior portion of your neck) really shut down as the sternocleidomastoid, suboccipitals, levator scapulae, scalenes, and upper traps get dense, fibrotic, and nasty.
You can start off by simply doing chin tucks against the wall (put the back of your head up against a wall, then make a double chin without the back of your head losing contact with the wall). Then, you can progress to quadruped chin tucks, a drill I learned from Dr. William Brady. In this drill, you’ll work against gravity as you pull your head into a more neutral cervical spine posture. Most people will butcher this on their first try by going into hyperextension as they get to the “top” of the movement.
When you get the technique down, you’ll actually notice some crazy soreness along the anterior aspect of your neck in the days that following. We usually go with sets of 5-6 reps and a 2-3 second hold at the top of each rep.
4. Go with a 2:1 pulling-to-pushing ratio.
This is a recommendation you see quite a bit, but nobody really talks about how to “smoothly” apply it to a weight training program. Here are a few approaches I’ve used in the past:
a. Simply add an extra pulling exercise on the end of a day’s session.
b. Pair a bilateral pulling exercise with a unilateral pressing exercise – and do “halves” on each pressing set. In other words, if I was doing 6×6 chest-supported rows (CSR) with 3×6/side 1-arm incline DB presses (IDP), here’s how I’d set it up: CSR, IDP-right, CSR, IDP-left, CSR, IDP-right, CSR, IDP-left, CSR, IDP-right, CSR, IDP-left.
c. Make the pulling exercises in your program the A1, B1, and C1 options, with the pressing as the A2, B2, C2. And, simply have an extra set of each of the pulling exercises – meaning you just don’t return to the pressing exercise for a last set. This might work out as more of a 3:2 pulling-to-pushing ratio, but you can always tack an extra set or two on at the end to make it work.
I’ll be back soon with more strategies for correcting bad posture, but in the meantime, I’d encourage you to check out Optimal Shoulder Performance at www.ShoulderPerformance.com, as this resource features loads of postural correction strategies to complement the ones featured in this series.
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