“Maybe they just don’t know” I thought to myself after looking around the gym. I mean, they’re at the gym, working out, trying to take better care of themselves. They must have a serious interest in looking and feeling their best. Why else would they be here? Still I wondered, “Why do so many people at the gym have bad posture?”
As I sat watching, it became very clear to me the problem. They were all doing it. Bad posture on stair climber, bad posture on the treadmill, bad posture on all the weight machines.
A lot of people were using the equipment improperly, but that wasn’t telling the whole story. Most the exercises being done were all going to make the person’s posture worse, not better.
In any attempt to improve posture through exercise, you have to consider a couple of things. What activities do I do all day that may be contributing to my bad posture? What muscles do I need to exercise in order to make my particular posture problem better?
The first one is pretty easy for most computer users. They know they are hunched over the computer all day making things worse. Then their posture changes little when they drive home, when they eat their dinner, and when they sit on the couch. It’s all the same posture! Each one of these positions makes the muscles in the front of the body shorter while increasing the length of the muscles in the back.
Then they head off to the gym and continue to work the front muscles while ignoring the back. Maybe they work the front and back muscles equally at the gym? However, their daily activities are still “front-heavy” and they have to consider that during their workouts. Chances are they should be working out their backs twice as often as their fronts! For some people the ratio might even be 3:1.
The bottom line is going to be the results they are after. If they sit in front of the computer all day, then go to the gym and ride a stationary bike for an hour, they are still hunched over. They have to spend time exercising their back muscles and stretching the muscles in the front of the body.
Good posture is about balance. Balance from front to back and from side to side. Many people at the gym try to keep things balanced while doing their exercise. They would never work out their right arm and not their left. They do “chest” one day and “back” the other. But how does this work when their daily activities spend so much time ignoring the strengthening of the back? Where does it balance out? It can only balance out if you work the back muscles at a higher frequency than the front.
Work on having good form on the machines you use, and more importantly choose wisely the best activities and exercises to counteract what you do all day. It may not seem like much activity, but it’s enough to affect your posture and make long term changes in your spine and your health. It doesn’t need to be like that!