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Watch Your Body's Cues to Improve Your Posture

Friday, August 08, 2008

Your body is pretty smart, you know? It tells you when you're hungry, when something hurts, and when it needs sleep. But it also points out your muscular imbalances. Everyone has them, even the most fit people—weak areas, tight muscles, and poor range of motion during certain movements. In fact, when you exercise (or even just when you move), your body gives you cues to what's going on.

Here's an example of an all-too-common problem: poor posture.

If slouching or rounded shoulders are a problem for you, then listen to watch what your body is saying. It's actually showing you exactly what your problems are. When your shoulders round forward, they are "pointing" to where your muscles are tight—that means your chest. Forward-rounding shoulders are also "going away" from where your body is weak: your upper back and posterior deltoids (back of the shoulder). Knowing this, you can then fix the problem by doing chest stretches more regularly (a simple one is to lace your fingers behind your back), and by focusing more on upper back strength training (such as rowing exercises, reverse flys, lat pulldowns and more).

You can apply this information to all types of movements. Your body and joints point toward tightness and away from weakness. It makes sense, right? Tight muscles will pull body parts towards them. And weak muscles are too weak to keep a joint or body part in proper position.

Notice what your body is "pointing" out when you walk, run, cycle and strength train. Then you won't need a trainer to fix the problem—you can do it yourself!

Member Comments About This Blog Post:
SPRINGBREEZI 10/20/2011 12:31PM

    Great information, would like you to continue this topic. I would like to know why my thigh gets tight on my left side from knee to hip. I injured by right knee by overuse/over extension? 5 months ago now I tighten up just walking 5,000 steps when I used to walk 10-13. Any info you can give us on these problems?

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VISUALLYRICS 10/3/2011 2:47PM

    emoticon very nice blog! Thanks!

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MYKIDSFAN 9/14/2011 4:05PM


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GINA4EVER 6/28/2011 3:11PM

    That's pretty amazing. My upper back has been bothering me for about three months - I guess some stretching and strengthening is in order! Thanks!

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STARSHINE67 6/12/2011 8:23PM

    Thanks..Great blog...Posture is sometimes something we foregt to think about..Bad posture can also pull your muscles out of line and make you feel more tired, due to muscle fatique.

Comment edited on: 6/12/2011 8:25:00 PM

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TSANC01 5/21/2011 8:55PM

  When I am at the gym I tend to focus on posture and form but when I'm sitting at my desk at work all is lost. Thanks for the explanation and I will try chest stretches at work.

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JSPEED4 4/27/2011 3:12AM

    Thank you.

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BAPSANN 4/26/2011 9:30AM

  I wondered why my shoulders were rounded, I will not try and self correct.

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DISTYME_4_ME 4/13/2011 2:05PM

    Great info!

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ANIERADKO 1/12/2011 7:55AM

  Thank you, so much for this info. I've had bad posture my entire life, always blamed it on my height. Read tons of articles over the years, tried a bunch of different exercises, even bought a back brace. The idea that joints point toward tightness and away from weakness floored me. I've been in physical therapy for 3 months and never had it explained so perfectly.

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USE2BWILD 11/23/2010 2:30PM

    Such common sense!!!!! Thank you so much for this info and for all you do!!!! emoticon

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KNITTABLES 8/20/2010 4:12PM

    That is one thing I need to work on is my posture. I seem to fall back to my slouching ways when I am not aware of it. Thanks for sharing this with us.

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POFCA3 7/27/2010 3:39PM

    Wow... totally makes sense. I'm like Steff1264, pulled my shoulders back and down as soon as I read it, lol.

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SUZYQSUNSHINE 7/12/2010 8:43PM

    OMG! I love it! Someone other than me feeling the poor posture feelings. I was in dance for many years all the way through h.s. Now, the one thing I always prided myself on causes me pain- my posture. I have to consytantly remind myself of the points when I am standing, driving in my car, in a yoga pose, ...even while in my bed. I have even started to go to sleep in a yoga pose.
My back hurt so bad...after a while....I began going to the chiropractor. It helps! I go twice or even three times a month...and have been get corrected. I was surprised to find my chiropractor so knowledgeable about the practice of yoga, shoes, and just good ol hitting the pavement!
Improvement has been a process in which I am still engaged. For me it takes thought!!! And a lot of it!

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REJ7777 5/30/2010 11:34PM

    Thank you for this very useful information. Then again, you give us a LOT of useful information on a lot of subjects, so LOTS of thanks! emoticon

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MR.NET1 1/15/2010 5:15PM

    emoticon emoticon

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LAURAWILLBEFIT 12/19/2009 9:02AM

    I tend to lean forward when standing or walking. A trainer once told me I have weak abs, and weak lower back muscles. I'm working on all of that now.
Thanks for posting this. Now I will also work on these muscles too!

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000OH000 9/28/2009 9:47PM

    Thank you for this information. I had recently been wondering why my posture has gotten worse over the years- now I know why and can take the steps to correct it.

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WISEWIFE 9/24/2009 3:25PM

    Thanks for that info. I must admit my posture is ( and always has been) horrible! But I'm going to work on that, starting now.
It does not help that I'm in front of a computer 8 hours a day at work and a couple more at home. But I will work on it & get better.

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RENA1965 9/22/2009 9:35AM

    Kind of nice to know my body figured this out that ages ago. It helps me from stiffening up. Pulley rows and cable cross feel great. Since I strengthened my back muscles up less pain and no pills... xx Rena

Comment edited on: 9/22/2009 9:37:25 AM

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WILLBOYWONDER 9/22/2009 9:29AM

    Excellent information. Posture is very important.

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STEFFI264 9/14/2009 10:03PM

  I sat up straight and pulled my shoulders down and back making my neck as tall as possible as soon as I read it!

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WANNABTHIN53 9/10/2009 2:18PM

    Thanks for sharing this valuable information.

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LASTINGONE 8/20/2009 12:13AM

    We call that "upper-cross syndrome." Upper-cross syndrome is directly related to many conditions from neck pain, rotator-cuff injury and carpal tunnel.

Good info, I advise almost all of my patients to do the exercises and stretches you named.

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SEASHELL71 8/10/2009 11:02AM

    My husband is always telling
me to sit up straight.

"Your body and joints point toward tightness and away from weakness."

When I share this with him, he will understand exactly
what is going on with me.


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HARTSONG4HIM 6/15/2009 4:48PM

    Wow - never thought about it in this way. As always, thank you for equipping us to live healthier lives.

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50SGRANNY 5/8/2009 8:30AM

    This make excellent sense! Thank you for sharing this, it will prove beneficial to me, I'm SURE!

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STEFFI264 3/9/2009 9:49PM

  yes it does make sense
thank you for pointing this out!

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7REBACCA7 3/6/2009 11:26AM

    I enjoyed this information i have arithuritis and beginning to bend in pain my
doctor sent me to therepy where i execise every day.A great man there at health plus was trained in musle releasing worked on me 45 minutes and released tight musles that were doing just what you said i now do trepy to keep it that way at
Health Plus he was trained in Bangladash.I thank God i was led to him and he is in Michican emoticon

Comment edited on: 3/6/2009 11:27:33 AM

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LLNLBLOG 1/15/2009 2:18PM

    That is true. When I was in shape my posture was a lot better than it is know. Without personal training I instinctively new the correct position when I worked out. Now that I'm use to ignore my body it seems to ache all the time. My body seems twisted and tight all the time. I thought that I lost the gift but I guess I just have to practice listening to what my body needs.

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BEEZY29 1/1/2009 1:53PM

    Cool. I just learned this in school, and I fixed my "rounded shoulders" exactly how you say... it works! emoticon

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TAMMYD308 11/29/2008 9:48AM

  Wow, thank you for this. I am ready to fix this problem once and for all. My bags will not stay on my shoulders because of my poor posture.

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ARMYMOM46 11/24/2008 1:30PM

    Thanks for posting this. I have a bad back and this has helped me learn how to keep my posture better which will be a big relief to me. Thanks again

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AHANKINS86 11/11/2008 10:24AM

    Thank you so much for writing this post!! Just a couple weeks ago, I was talking wtih a few of my friends, asking them how they kept their good posture, and they said "I just make a conscious effort." Well... that may work for them, but I was struggling. I really appreciate the head's up on how to fix this!!!

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WERECAT50 9/10/2008 7:50AM

    Thank you! I never heard that said, now I know I really need to get my butt to the gym to workout as my shoulders do that, and I noticed my arms and back was losing strength! emoticon

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LUCKY8GAL 9/9/2008 5:01PM

    Great info.....

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DDOORN 8/16/2008 5:18AM

    I like the idea of tuning into one's body. This makes a LOT of intuitive sense! Thx for the head's up!

Don, Co-Leader for the All Health Professionals SparkTeam

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DOWNINTHESOUTH 8/15/2008 11:32AM

    wow. i have the rounded shoulders and always have, but i didn't know it meant that my body was weak in another area. i just thought it was heredity. i will start working on this routine tonight. Thanks for the information.... emoticon

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LUVTHISLEO 8/14/2008 12:42PM

    I have started this routine already. I will be adding this to my fitness goal also.

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ANNEPENN 8/12/2008 2:40PM

  Some things we can do w/o a doctor and this is so simple. I am rsponsible for my own health and fitness--popping a pill seems to me the lazy, irresponsible way out. Yes, there are times for surgery but what is it with Americans--every ache and pain or digestive symtom doesn't merit a trip to the doc! I try to look at myself and see how I can take care of my wonderful body.

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KRISPYKREME51 8/12/2008 9:59AM

  And I thought it was inevitable due to age! I have always had "football" player shoulders until a couple of years ago. I will try your solution. Thanks.

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VELRENO 8/11/2008 2:23AM

    So simple but we need the pointers just to see what our bodies been trying to tell us all along. Thanks so much!!!!

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  Great point! Thanks!

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GRAMMABANANA1 8/9/2008 9:21AM

    I needed to hear this. I have been putting off getting a decent chair for my computer. Thanks coach!

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SHELLPRO 8/9/2008 2:44AM

    well, I've been experiencing knee pain that happens mostly during lunges- I've followed every correction that I could find with no luck- old age maybe?

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NANCYBFULLER 8/8/2008 6:54PM

    Hmm, can you see me?
It sure sounds like it. (LOL)

I round my shoulders, I always have. Several years ago I started having terrible back ache in my upper spine, (I still do if I am not careful)

It was found that I have a slight scoliosis and a two discs that pinch together. My physical therapist gave me some upper body excercises, but I have not kept up with them. I have been thinking about doing them again. This was the kick in the rear to get me going.

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TZH4145 8/8/2008 4:38PM

    Thank you!!! I never thought about it that way.

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ELLIQQ 8/8/2008 4:28PM

    Hummmm ... never Ever heard it explained quite that way. Thanks ... I need to sit up straight here LOL !!

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