Monday, May 13, 2013

Posture Up

Stand up straight. Sit up tall. Don't slouch. Keep your head up. How many times have people told you throughout your life that you have bad posture? Maybe you're lucky and you're just one of those people who carries themselves perfectly at all times. Head up, shoulders back, walking confidently unto all challenges with which life may present them.

I am not one of those people.

I was a fat kid when I was little. Sick and fat. I did not go outside very often and I spent far too much time in front of a television, smashing a controller and shouting when the computer would kick my ass. Honestly it was kind of funny in hindsight but that's not the point. Sidetracked.

The point is that a lot of the activities that we chose to occupy our time with contribute negatively to our posture. It's not that I couldn't sit in front of the television with absolutely perfect anatomical positioning,  it's that I'm fighting a giant f*cking dragon spirit that shoots lasers out of it's face and if I need to roll up into a tightly packed ball, lay upside down or run in place with my face half an inch from the television that's what's gonna happen because that motherf*cking dragon is going down.

Passive posture is a dangerous thing. It's the term for the anatomical positions we leave ourselves in for extended periods of time: when we sit in front of the television, when we sit in front of the computer; honestly sitting in general tends to be pretty bad for most of us. Again, it's not so much because we can't maintain good posture while doing a lot of these things, it's just that we don't.

So, why does this matter? I've spent a lot of time talking about proper technique and highlighting why it's important. It plays a huge role in everything from making progress to preventing injury. Technique is the foundation of any proper workout and good posture is the foundation of proper technique.

 In Brazilian Jiujitsu a very common cue you'll hear is "posture up." What they're doing is telling the fighter to sit up straight with their head tall and their shoulders back. My professor used to tell us, "sit like little string is pulling your head to ceiling." The point of posturing up is to put your body into a position where it's difficult for your opponent to exert control over you and therefore set you up for an attack.

Following the same principle, you should always remember to do some form of "posturing up" before any of your lifts. I understand there is a significant difference between several hundred pounds of iron and an active, resisting opponent but the point is still the same: you need to set your body in the optimal position to perform and succeed.

Posture is incredibly important when squatting and deadlifting. If your shoulders are rolled forward and your body is hollowed out there is a really good chance you're going to hurt your back or your neck. Even beyond that, one of the things that I learned from watching the therapists and the patients at the clinic I used to work at is how incredibly important posture is for proper form of any upper body exercise. They would constantly be cuing for proper posture, telling the patients to keep their heads up and their shoulders back. Your body wants to help you and if you are struggling with any exercise, your body will find a way to cheat. This is even more evident in athletes with injuries. Your body will try to find a way to do what you're doing, but if you let it cheat you are doing a host of negative things for yourself. You are reinforcing improper movement patterns and exercising the wrong muscles. Ultimately, you are not strengthening what you're targeting, and you're setting yourself up for injury. Again. Sound like fun?

So there you have it. Posture isn't just the realm of grade school disciplinarians and angry nuns. Posture is important for maintaining strength and the structural integrity of your body and your joints. It is the foundation on which proper technique is built and you can't build an invincible house without a solid foundation.


Today's Workout:
Strength Day:
Deadlift 5x5
Front Squat 3x5
Bench Press 3x5
Pull Up  (strict form) 5x3

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