Your head is not your chest.
I know what you’re thinking. Mitch has gone nuts. Of course your head isn’t your chest. It’s really pretty common knowledge, after all. I learned that all the way back in 7th grade!
Well, if that’s the case how come when I tell people to get their chest up I see this
instead of this?
It’s a very common thing but it can be a big problem. You see, in our gym the most important thing is ALWAYS posture. I know it’s not quite as sexy a topic as weight loss or a huge deadlift, but what’s an easy way to look like you’ve lost 10 pounds in about 2 seconds? Stand tall and in good posture! What is the best way to improve your deadlift or your sports performance in general? Improve your posture!
This is what it comes down to: Our spines function best when in neutral alignment. That looks something like this:
Notice the alignment, ears directly above hips and ankles. We also look best in neutral alignment. Compare the above pictures once again to check that one out.
Now let’s get to heart of the article. Your head is not your chest. Very possibly the most crucial aspect of good posture is awareness. (You don’t know how many times I hear from people that they don’t even realize that they’re standing in a bad position.) Having said that, you have to be able to feel a position to be aware of it. Having said that, the position that most people feel on a regular basis is that deadly sitting-in-front-of-a-computer position. Something like this picture below:
Not good posture
When you spend too much time in front of a computer one of the first things to happen is that you develop overstretched and weak upper back and shoulder muscles. What this leads to is an overly hunched posture and tight chest muscles, so when I tell someone to pick their chest up into a good position, the only thing they can feel and do is raise their head. After all they know something is supposed to raise up.
The main problem with this head raised position is that is sets off a chain reaction of bad posture. Check out the pictures below. The first one is me with a good head position in good posture. The second is with my head raised. Let’s compare the two.
Notice the three points of contact: butt, upper back and back of head.
Notice the lack of contact at the upper back and the overall tense posture.
In the first notice how my butt, upper back and the back of my head are in a straight line. I’ve actually placed a stick on my back so you can see this easily. In the second, notice the chain reaction that’s happened. My raised head has actually raised my shoulder blades up towards my neck. It’s also caused me to go into an overly extended position in my low back which will shut down my core to some extent and, for some people, will cause low back pain. (Another example of low back pain being caused by something other than the low back.) None of that is good.
Again, I know that this isn’t necesarily the most entertaining topic, but think of it this way:
There’s nothing you can do that will help you look better, be more athletic, feel better and get you out of pain better than improving your posture!
If you need any help or have any questions, drop me a line and let me know.
Have a great and neutrally positioned day!
Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach, FMS
2861 Grove Way in Castro Valley
I Help People Discover Their Strength!