WHY POSTURE IS IMPORTANT FOR ATHLETES
Do you struggle with excessive back or neck pain? Consider that your issue could stem from poor posture, which can also affect your sports performance. Check out this article on why it’s important to be mindful of your posture, especially as an athlete. We will also provide tips on maintaining good posture on and off the field.
POSTURE IS FOR EVERYONE
If you’ve ever been to a physical therapist, no doubt you’ve heard about the importance of posture. Grandma always said to sit up straight. Coaches and teachers also tout the benefits of good posture.
But what exactly is posture? Posture is how you hold your body. Dynamic posture is how you carry yourself when you are moving — walking, running, or bending over to pick up something. Static posture is how you hold yourself when you are not moving, like sitting, standing, or sleeping.
Good posture is more than just standing up straight. It is an essential part of good health. How is good posture defined? The key to good posture is the position of your spine. The proper spine alignment allows you to move efficiently so that your body supports your weight without strain.
Your spine has three natural curves: neck, mid-back, and low back. Correct posture should maintain these curves. Your head should be above your shoulders, and the top of your shoulder should be over the hips.
How your posture presents itself results from habits you form throughout your life. Over time, poor posture may be caused by everyday activities such as sitting in office chairs, staring at the computer, cradling a cell phone, carrying a purse over the same shoulder, driving, prolonged standing, caring for small children, or even sleeping.
Bad posture can come about from the effects of gravity on our bodies. Bad posture may also occur due to an injury or an illness. Stress may contribute to shallow breathing or overly contracted muscles, which may compromise your body posture. Even clothing, especially shoes, can affect posture.
Poor posture causes imbalances in the body. Some muscles are stretched and weakened, while others are becoming shortened and tight. Bad posture can cause any of the following:
- neck, back and shoulder pain, with an increased risk of injury
- stress incontinence due to increased pressure on the abdomen and bladder
- heartburn/slowed digestion due to increased pressure on the abdomen, which can, in turn, force stomach acid in the wrong direction
BENEFITS OF PROPER POSTURE
Having good posture is about more than looking good. It helps you to develop strength, flexibility, and balance in your body. These can all lead to less muscle pain and more energy throughout the day. Proper posture also reduces stress on your muscles and ligaments, reducing your risk of injury.
Even if you are not an active individual, having proper posture can positively impact your life. Having correct posture decreases wear and tear on the supportive structures in the body and allows your spine to support your weight with less strain. Sitting and standing with proper alignment improves blood flow, helps keep your nerves and blood vessels healthy, and supports your muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
Benefits of correct posture include:
- Improved digestion
- Reduced muscle fatigue
- Improved joint function
- Happier mood
- Increased blood flow, making for a healthier lifestyle
POSTURE IN ATHLETES
Posture can affect athletes both on and off the field. While participating in a sport, your body constantly moves and switches positions. Having the correct posture allows an athlete to move more efficiently and cohesively.
Economical movement means that the athlete can move faster and can conserve energy for later in their event. Inefficient movement means the athlete must move more to compensate for poor posture. This takes time and requires more work. Less energy is then available for later in the event.
A tight thoracic spine can mean that when performing throwing or striking actions that involve rotation (such as a tennis forehand), the athlete can’t rotate their trunk to generate power and range of motion, so instead use their excessive shoulder mobility to get into position. Shoulder mechanics are also altered due to changes in posture.
Poor posture during daily life can carry over into an athlete’s ability to perform their best during their sport due to poor movement. Being aware of good posture is the first step to breaking old poor postural habits and reducing stress and strain on your spine.
Good posture creates a balance that can protect you from injury, whether you are moving or not. This means that athletes should be mindful of their posture not only while they are playing but while they are going about their day-to-day life.
Conversely, poor posture can lead to long-term problems such as back pain, joint pain, and even muscular imbalances. So be sure to pay attention to your posture next time you work out or play your favorite sport!
In a world interconnected through computer screens and desks, it is becoming increasingly difficult to counter the problem of poor posture. Not only can it make you uncomfortable and unable to perform your best, but it can also have long-term effects on your well-being, such as:
- Poor circulation creates pressure, limiting how fluids travel through your body. This can lead to further circulatory issues, including varicose, also known as spider veins.
- Increased levels of cortisol throughout the body leave you feeling more stressed.
- Extra stress on muscles leads to soreness, pain, and tightness.
- Lower oxygenation levels due to your lungs not fully expanding, affecting your strength and stamina.
Here are a few tips to help you improve your posture and your health:
- Move around frequently—every 20 to 30 minutes. When you feel your muscles tiring or feel yourself slowly slouching, get up and move around.
- Check-in with your body often. We get busy working at our computers and compress into poor posture. Post a note on your computer screen reminding you to align yourself properly.
- Set reminders on your calendar to check in with yourself several times throughout the day. Ensure your ears are above your shoulders and that you’re using your front neck muscles — not just your posterior muscles — to hold your head up.
- When sitting, utilize a lumbar roll or rolled towel to support your natural lumbar curve. That way, you’ll have support for a straighter posture, allowing it to be more sustainable.
- On your smartphone all day long? Take a minute to stretch your neck. It strains your spine when you tilt your head down to check messages over the course of a day – or year – that can add up. For a better view, lift the phone up and move your eyes, not your head.
- Too many pounds around your belly puts added stress on your back. It would help if you had strong muscles to support your spine. A well-designed workout plan will keep your body and spine in tip-top shape. And that’s important.
- Consider using a posture product to help remind you of the proper alignment. Body Helix’s Adjustable Posture Helix is an excellent choice for those sitting at a desk or computer, providing support to the back muscles, tendons, and ligaments. It is also beneficial for myofascial upper back pain related to poor posture.
At Body Helix, we start with an unapologetic obsession for exceptional quality and make innovative products to serve athletes of all levels. We believe in and promote salutogenesis. Your wellness is our primary directive. We continually research to provide reliable information and actionable tips to optimize your fitness.
Director of Marketing
Team Body Helix