T Nation

Do Posture Correction Exercises Work?


#1

I have lordosis.. anterior pelvic tilt, kyphosis, forward head posture, etc.... typical shit posture and all that. I really hate it, and ever since I was made aware of it as a defect I notice it all the time. It also makes my belly look way fatter than it actually is (abdomen protrudes) and my ass look big
I have tried Cressey's Assess and Correct, various hip flexor stretching exercises
I train my posterior chain and glutes extensively and used Neanderthal No More as my sole training program for a long time (before that I avoided squats, etc cause I thought it would make it even worse - now I just feel they're adding more useless muscle to my glutes to make my ass stick out even more)

I understand the reasoning: that if you stretch your hip flexors they wont pull your anterior pelvis down so much, and if you strengthen your glutes they will pull the back of of your pelvis down a bit (to help even things out). Also, abdominals help pull the anterior pelvis up a bit (but information is mixed about this, about whether or not you should train them, at least on the wiki entry for "lordosis")

here are pics.. sorry about the tightey whiteys but look at the waist band to see the anterior tilt :slightly_smiling:
completely relaxed posture


Here is my "corrected" posture: abdominals pulled in and up, glutes tightened to lock the pelvis into position, shoulders retracted, head forced backwards

Looks a lot better, yeah? But imagine walking around like this having to worry about keeping all these muscles activated.. its absolute torture. So of course when I'm alone I allow myself to relax, but when I'm out I try to maintain this.. sometimes i get comments about looking unnatural, etc.. which is true (try walking around with flexed glutes and tightened abs, it looks like you have a stick up your ass)

So basically, what am I supposed to do? I was lead to believe that training certain muscles and stretching other muscles would help, but in the end you have to consciously force your posture into this position... it will never be your "natural" posture


#2

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


#3

how long have you been working on your posture? you cant fix 20 years of bad habits in a week. its going to take a lot of time and consistency.


#4

Couple of years now.. on and off, kind of gave up on the stretches (only before training now) cause i hate stretching

im just asking in theory, even if you do all this work, will it change your PASSIVE posture? wont I still have to consciously force myself into this position by contracting my abs and glutes, retracting my scapula and my neck muscles, constantly? Like, if I just got out of bed and im stumbling to the bathroom still half asleep, I'm not even thinking about posture - at this point I have my natural posture that was in the first set of pictures. Will this natural state ever be changed?


#5

Hmm.
Im no expert, but start putting on some muscle with deadlifts and squats. Do lots of facepulls. ALways use correct posture when lifting. Personally when Im lifting well, my posture looks good. It could be a confidence thing aswell.

Bird style.

tweet tweet


#6

You're not alone in your experience with the traditional squat. You're not the first to notice that it can hypertrophy the glutes. This, for obvious reasons, makes the movement desirable for some and unnecessary for others. Frank Zane, one of the most aesthetic physiques ever, invented his Leg Blaster device because he noticed the same thing about squats. Obviously, for power lifters and others who care more about strength over aesthetics, this is acceptable.

If you're not doing so already, you need to SMR. Be sure to include the pec minor area as if you are overactive they will pull the scaps forward.

You need to stretch peri and post work out as well.

Pre workout: SMR and static stretch (the stretches should not be aggressive and held under 30 seconds in order to minimize down regulating strength)

Peri workout (ie in between sets): static stretch 10 seconds in a non-aggressive manner.

Post workout: static stretch 30 seconds.

In ALL of your stretches, never go to the point of pain and stop at any sign of joint irritation.

Why don't you tell us your current training program? We can take a look and advise.

Also, what do you do for work? Do you sit hunched over for hours at a time?

And yes, if you incorporate these and the other protocols intelligently, consistently, and with a positive mindset, your overall posture will improve.


#7

So should I be doing squats, kneeling squats, lunges etc.. that hit the glutes so much, or not?

What exactly do you mean by SMR and static sretches (google wasn't very specific)

Yes I sit a lot at the computer.. of course lots of people do as well and have good posture but oh well

I am using a modified version of this: (pictures of all exercises are included)

http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance_repair/neanderthal_no_more_part_v

I removed Extended ROM Bulgarian Squats, Reverse Hypers, 1 1/4 inverted rows and band retractions, and I limited the reps for the rear-delt isolation exercises.
I also added the standard Bench Press for the Monday split - from all I read, chest work was harmful to posture because it pulls the shoulders forward, but after so many months of this posture work my chest really diminished in size and was effecting my motivation. Lordosis is the biggest deal for me anyway... also threw in some vanity bicep curls.


#8

If you sit at a desk all day, consider trying to convert to a stand up desk. either raise the whole desk up or put a milk crate or something under your computer. This would do wonders for your posture, and the way you sit is probably hindering your progress at a better posture.

Also, if you do a lot of driving, this can affect your posture, especially if you drive a sports car or small sedan, as this angles the seat back and forces you to compensate. Not much you can do here, except maybe get a motorcycle or a truck, this would angle the seat forward a little more.

One last piece of advice: start going to a chiropractor, preferably one with a sports or lifting background.

Hope this helps and good luck!


#9

i never thought about having a stand up desk, that's frikkin genious.


#10

I'd be interested to see what people suggest about this as I have the same exact posture with the exception of a few things.


#11

i have exactly same problem my friend. also worst. i have been doing pilates(pilates allegro and reformer) and my posture became better. now i have really fucked up posture when i am relaxed but i learned how to be not relaxed all the time .
i want to be back in weight lifting and wondering about squats too.i will be glad if you guys give your opinions on squats and deadlifts.


#12

Static stretching the hip flexors probably isn't going to help you if you're stuck in computer-induced lordosis.

The things you need to do, in no particular order:
- Get up from your desk at least once an hour.
- Foam roll. Everything. Daily.
- Train your core to stabilize your pelvis. Your hip flexors are probably stiff and neurologically tight. Foam rolling will help the stiffness, but your body has to create stability at the hip, and if your core is weak, your HFs will pull the pelvis down to create that stability. If you're in bad shape (hint: you are) you will have to start back at the absolute beginning - http://billhartman.net/blog/2010/02/16/effective-abdominal-training/ . A single leg lowering test will show your progress - I went from miserable failure to nearly passing in 4 weeks just doing those twice a week and birddogs twice a week (with good form, ho hip hiking, and a 5 second hold at the top) for 3x6-10. When you're ready to progress, read some of Mike Robertson's more recent core training articles.
- Learn to do this: http://robertsontrainingsystems.com/blog/the-90-90-split-squat/ . Bodyweight only, 2-4 times a week, 2-3x8-12. If you do it correctly, the HF on the back leg should be screaming because you're teaching your nervous system that it's OK to let it lengthen. When you're proficient at the bodyweight split squat, you can start doing it with a dumbbell in one hand twice a week, and you can use it as an EQI stretch for the hip flexors, which is way more effective than a static stretch. I think BBB has called this a "rehab split squat" in the past - there was a pretty good "Blasting Lordosis" thread he responded to.
- Learn to row the right way, and do a ton of rehab stuff for your upper back - external rotations, IYT's, etc. START LIGHT.

If you do all of that and don't get too ahead of yourself with the progressions, it will still take months to bring everything back in line. More, depending on how bad off your are now.

If you're anywhere near Indianapolis, I strongly encourage you to go to IFAST and see Bill Hartman and Mike Robertson. They specialize in this sort of thing, and their programming has made a huge impact on the way I feel and move.


#13

Its funny how you mention the core because it just hit me last night after doing foam rolling, stretching and activation for the glutes and hip flexors...I went to the bar and began to deadlift...I woke up this morning with an annoying pain in both SI joints and realized I've neglected the abdominals for way too long.

Heres a link that I was shown months ago.


#14

It's not really the abs, because they primarily resist torso rotation. The external obliques, I think, are primarily responsible for pulling the pelvis back into neutral alignment.

The wall press abs video I posted is a more remedial version of the dead bug. If you're in really bad shape, you won't be able to keep your back on the ground while doing any kind of dead bug, and you're always better off starting off with more remedial stuff - at worst you will loose a week learning that you aren't quite as messed up as you thought you were.


#15

Quoting this for later. That 90/90 split squat was brutal. I have some work to do.


#16

Check out my blog. This isn't something to get hits, its a blog I started to help with those who have postural problems. I posted my posture up there, the difference is that I know how to fix it too. Everything I can think of for posture is going up slowly, so keep with it and you'll realize how posture can change quickly.

I have been mobilizing for 2 weeks now and at the end of my third week, I'm hitting the gym again (lightly though!)

the site is btbproject.wordpress.com

I had similar problems as you. another great site is mobilitywod.com


#17

ok, I am no expert but Harpoon, I don't think your "corrected" posture is correct. It seems like you are pulling back your shoulders but popping out your chest. You need to Lift the chest (above breast level) up and suck in your rib cage in the front- that will take care of a lot of the shoulder positioning.

Anyway, this sort of thing is very difficult to do over the internet. The point I want to make is that you will have to devote a lot of time and energy into correcting your posture- so why not go to a professional face to face and find out exactly what that correct posture is.There are SO many components that go into correct posture it will really save you time. Just as another example- I think your chin is too high. If you lower your chin a bit you will find that it will lengthen your back and also help to lift your chest (up).

good luck, it's a lot of work but your 80 year old self will thank you.


#18

I tried it... I mean, yeah its tiring, as it would be for anyone when you have to activate your core and hold it for a long time (hard to breathe) but im not sure what its supposed to be doing... and isometric contraction, how useful is it?

the "leg raise test" you mean something like the Thomas test?

i tried that a long time ago.. My non-flexed leg stays more or less horizontal when I pull my other knee up

maybe my hip flexors might be a bit tight but after mucking around with this stuff for a long time it seems like I could stretch the hell out of my hip flexors etc, and at best I'd just be walking around like a doofus with his pelvis thrusted forward, but the lordotic curve would remain.

like i said, if I flex my glutes and suck in my stomach muscles, the curve gets smaller, but I cant walk around like this all the time... im just not seeing how the exercises will improve passive posture - ie, if I stand with my back to the wall, and feel that space between my lumber spine and the wall, and I relax completely.. hows that curve gonna change??


#19

Just playing devils advocate. These make for a very interesting read and I'm inclined to agree with what it says: Posture in the sense of "perfect" allignment is not that important, and walking around like you say you do (forced "good posrture") is probably worse for you than walking around relaxed.

In my experience, my posture improved a whole lot when I became more physically active, and NOT THINKING about my posture (I am pretty assymetrical in the shoulders, but hey, they work just fine so I couldn't care less)

http://www.bettermovement.org/posture/

http://www.bettermovement.org/2010/three-essential-elements-of-good-posture/

http://www.bettermovement.org/2010/five-misconceptions-about-posture/

http://www.bettermovement.org/2012/skeletal-structure-movement-function/

http://saveyourself.ca/blog/0332.php


#20

To attempt to answer your question, I don't personally think postural exercises correct structure. They strenghten muscles to make them function better, but the only way they would make anything look different is through hypertophy.