First in a three-part series
All of our clients are asked to “reset their posture” prior to each and every set of exercises. Reset cues are provided between sets so that every set begins from an optimal postural position encouraging safety and effectiveness. Think of watching a professional tennis match and the time that is taken by each player to set up their serve. The better the set up (backed up with countless hours of training of course), the more likely they will hit a solid serve and the better prepared they will be for the return shot.
In addition to postural setup, you must also be positioned optimally in relationship to gravity and whatever external resistance equipment you may be utilizing. But, even if you are positioned well, if your postural alignment is poor, every aspect of your set will be negatively impacted.
Therefore, over the next three weeks, we will highlight postural setups for standing, kneeling, seated, prone and supine positions. Obviously, we know that every exercise is unique, and consequently, the setup details may vary from one exercise to another. However, the basics always apply, so master the smart, strong and safe foundational elements and experience the benefits of a lifetime of meticulous postural setup. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
Standing Setup Basics
- Tall spine, with the head and neck a natural extension of the spine, shoulders rotated back/down, rib cage lifted, navel pulled toward the spine, pelvic floor pulled up and in and the knees relaxed. Body weight, for many standing exercises, will rest in the mid-foot to heels. It is rarely in the toes as this causes the body to “pitch” forward.
-“Square” your body, with the shoulders, hips, knees and toes facing the same direction. Feet, for many standing exercises, should be about hip distance apart and take a moment to glance down making certain that your feet are parallel to one another. If one foot is out of alignment, your entire postural position is altered. Some standing exercises, such as lunges, require the legs to be staggered. However, all “10 toes” are still facing forward. This is particularly important during lunges to prevent torsion at the knee joint. *Arm positions will vary depending on the exercise.
-Avoid letting the head drop. Unless you are attempting to look where you are moving in a dynamic exercise like traveling lunges, you should be able to keep your eyes fixed forward on the horizon. This is critical because if the head is down, then the entire spine is thrown out of alignment.
-Keep the chin pulled in so that the ears line up with the shoulders if possible. For those with thoracic spine issues, this may prove to be a challenge, but at least attempt to “drop the plumb line” from the ears, to the shoulders, hips, and ankles — one straight line.
-Once you have achieved ideal postural setup for each exercise, your next goal is to sustain your alignment throughout the exercise. Notice where your body “ends up” on the last repetition of the set and how much resetting is necessary when you complete the set.
Jackie Wright is the owner/manager of Never Summer Fitness, LLC located in Grand Lake, Colorado. She may be reached at her website at www.neversummerfitness.com, her email at NSFGL@comcast.net, her blog at www.skyhidailynews.com and her Facebook page at Never Summer Fitness.