Happy Thursday! And for me it's happy end of the work week! I am jetting out early this week to head to the lake for a last hoorah get away before school starts. I am pretty excited because the lake means fishing, tubing, and riding the seadoos. Don't worry though I plan to also get a head on some blogging so I won't be completely unproductive. I am also considering taking my 16 kg kettlebell just to get in at least one quick but good training session. Perhaps I will keep it by my side while fishing and just do a turkish get up between each cast (don't judge me =D). Enough bragging (I know your jealous ; )) it's time to present you with some information you might actually find helpful.
Have you ever been at the gym, work, school, or a marathon and looked around and seen someone who's posture resembles the below picture.This is a classic example of someone who has an upper cross syndrome or put more plainly they have an imbalance between tight and inhibited muscles. Part of this imbalance is also that the internal rotators of the shoulder are over powering the smaller upper back musculature and the external rotators of the shoulder.
Now it isn't the all at the fault of the individual that they have poor posture it is largely due to the anatomy of the human body which places the external rotators and upper back muscles at a disadvantage because of the much more abundant and larger internal rotator shoulder muscles such as the latissimus dorsi.
But most exacerbate this problem with their training because they tend to spend twice the amount of time and volume on muscles that internally rotate the shoulder than they do on muscles that help externally rotate the shoulders and stabilize the scapula properly on the rib cage. Leading to extreme cases of poor posture that involve abducted shoulder blades and internally rotated shoulder.
In addition to anatomy and training this posture can be further worsened by extended periods of sitting and looking at a compute all day, but for most this is a necessary evil due to jobs so we must try to attack the other two factors to help improve this imbalance and then be mindful of static posture whenever possible.
You might wonder though how this affects you and is it an urgent problem to fix. And the answer is yes it needs to be corrected as soon as possible because this kind of posture leads to short and tight pectoralis minors, increased strain on the cervical spine due to the excessive forward head position, and can create impingements at the shoulder leading to dyfunctional movement and pain.
Due to these possible complications I try to address this postural imbalance immediately as well as prevent it from occurring in others. I prevent this by having clients do two things, maintain great soft tissue quality and create in an imbalance in training volume.
To facilitate any imbalance in training volume I make sure to include at least twice as much work for the upper back, lower trapezius, and external rotators than pectoralis minor, latissimus dorsi, and internal rotators. To do this you don't have to have a lot of fancy exercises just a few that target the areas you activated.
Today's "Exercise of the Week" is one of these exercises which I used with clients to help develop the upper back musculature and promote a training volume imbalance in hopes of either correcting someone's terrible posture or preventing this from becoming a problem.
Which means regardless of your current postural status you should consider incorporating this exercise or a similar one into your training program on a regular basis.
How To Perform the Band Pull Apart
- Grab an elastic band, this can be either rubbing tube or a thera-band like device.
- Stand up tall. Maintain a neutral spine and a packed neck.
- Grasp the band in both hands and extend your arms straight out so that your hands, elbows, and shoulders create a straight line
- Begin the motion by pulling your hands and subsequently the band apart.
- Make sure that you allow your shoulders to abduct.
- Pull the band apart until your hands are outside of and even with your shoulders. At this point the band should touch your shirt. Be sure that you do not extend through your thoracic or lumbar spine.
- Think about squeezing your shoulder blades.
- Then allow your hands to come back together under control. Do not allow the band to slingshot your hands together.
- Repeat this motion for the prescribed repetition
Below is a video of me demonstrating the entire movement.
Practical, Purposeful, Effective Training