Does strength training fix bad posture?

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You may have heard that strength training can help with poor posture, but is that really true? The answer may surprise you. Let’s take a closer look at how strength training can impact your posture.

The human body is designed to move. Muscles provide the force that allows us to move our joints, and when we don’t use our muscles regularly, they may start to deteriorate. This may lead to all sorts of problems, including poor posture or injury. Fortunately, strength training may help reverse the effects of muscle deterioration and improve your posture.

When we don’t use our muscles, they become smaller and weaker. This is because they’re not being stimulated to grow. The same is true for our bones; without regular use, they become thinner and more brittle (if you have Osteoporosis you may find this blog article interesting about the best exercise for this condition). This may lead to a stooped posture and a greater risk of falls and fractures. Strength training helps to reverse & prevent this process by stimulating muscle growth and bone density. As a result, it may help improve your posture and reduce your risk of injury.

How do muscles actually grow?

So how do muscles actually grow and adapt? This occurs broadly via two mechanisms:

  1. Increased overall muscle size including individual muscle fiber enlargement, and;
  2. Neurological adaptations include learning and coordination.

From our earlier blog educating our readers about muscle growth and adaptation, ‘In the early weeks of resistance training, an increase in strength is seen mainly due to these neurological adaptations before any improvements in muscle size. With repeated resistance workouts, your brain and nervous system become better at innervating and recruiting your motor units (groups of muscle fibers) to contract and perform the movement to overcome the load. The more musculature that is able to be activated or recruited, the greater the force production and potential workload overcome. 

Strength training can be thought of as a skill in which you can become more efficient at certain movements regardless of your size. In the first 2-3 weeks of training, you will see an initial increase in neural drive and therefore strength. The lifter becomes better able to overcome more resistance which in turn results in greater muscle mass improvements. Whilst strength improvements occur relatively early, the accompanying muscular size adaptation usually occurs around the 6-week mark.’

What is poor posture and do we need to fix it?

We are often told from a young age to ‘watch’ or ‘correct’ our posture. We may catch a glimpse of ourselves in the mirror or in a photo and think, ‘my gosh I look so round-shouldered’. Well, our skeletal makeup is inherited from our parents… so the fundamentals of our posture ie the boney framework cannot be changed. 

What we can do is strengthen our muscles to make sure we don’t subject ourselves to the risk of injury and pain. There are many documented cases of people with severe scoliosis (which is a medical condition that creates altered shapes of the spine) who have achieved phenomenal things such as swimmer Jessica Ashwood. Jessica has participated in two Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games with what would be described as severe scoliosis. How was she able to compete and train at such an elite level with such poor posture? Her strength and body’s ability to adapt. 

So do we need to fix posture? Not necessarily, we need to be strong in our posture.

How to start strength training?

Strength training is an important part of maintaining a healthy body, but it’s important to do it safely. 

If you have any medical conditions or injuries, be sure to check with your allied health practitioner or doctor before starting a strength-training program. With the right precautions, strength training can be a safe and effective way to improve your health.

This is where Exercise Physiologists come in. Exercise Physiologists are University Qualified Allied Health professionals that prescribe exercise for disease or injury. Their job is to create the right exercise program for you, your health, and your goals. 

If you are wanting to begin strength training, participating under the guidance of an Exercise Physiologist may help you feel more confident. EPs work with clients in a private, one on one environment and use a number of techniques to help their clients get the best results they can. 

Some of our favorite strength exercises

Theraband rows: these work on building strength in the muscles at the back of our shoulder blades which may give you a sense of feeling taller through your chest.

Wall Squats: this exercise helps develop strength around the legs, particularly the ‘quads’.

 

If you think adding strength training into your exercise routine, we would love to recommend our Exercise Physiologists to help guide you on this journey. Making a booking today!

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