Remember when your mother or teacher used to constantly hound you about standing up straight? It turns out that they were right. Good posture helps protect us in daily life and when we strength train.
Good posture involves having the entire body aligned properly to move efficiently and protect the joints. If you start an exercise with good posture, helps you to maintain good position throughout the movement. Good posture simply means putting the least strain on your muscles, joints and ligaments when standing, sitting, walking or doing exercise. Proper standing postures means the ears are directly over the shoulders, the shoulders over the hips, the hips over the knees and the knees over the ankles. This helps keep the discs stacked or aligned properly which protects the spine from injury and allows the body to move efficiently.
The safest and most efficient way to start any exercise is with good posture and stability. A plank starts with good posture in a horizontal position. Squats start in an erect posture, while the bench press starts in a supine or face up posture. Each of these movements begins with good posture.
Adding an element of stability to good posture will keep you in god position while exercising and helps to protect the spine. Pinch, brace and squeeze are three cues that can be used to stabilize the body and protect the spine during strength training.
Pinch means drawing the shoulder blades down and together as though you were trying to squeeze a pencil. While you are pinching, keep your chest high.
Bracing refers to adding tension to your abdominal area. This does not mean hollowing the stomach or pushing your abdominal muscles out but creating tension between the ribs and the hips. A good cue is to think of how you would automatically tense the muscles around the stomach if someone were going to punch you in the gut. The abdominal and lower back muscles act as a natural belt or corset to protect the spine.
Squeezing your gluteus muscles in the third cue we use to create the stability necessary in the body to lift weights safely. Squeezing the glutes helps put your pelvis into proper alignment.
If you begin each exercise by paying attention to good posture and pinching, bracing and squeezing, you will reduce the chances of getting injured and be in the best position to lift a weight properly. Proper positioning allows you to exert the most force possible and will aid in increasing strength over time. Setting up properly and using good technique places the stress on the proper areas, the largest muscle groups which can do the most work while avoiding placing excessive stress on the ligaments and joints.
Approach every exercise with proper posture and don’t forget to pinch, brace and squeeze and you will be on your way to improving your strength and staying safe during strength training. And thank your Mother!