Exercise does not change static postural alignment

It seems we can’t go five minutes without someone telling us our posture is bad and we need to do such and such exercises to correct it or else.

Well, what does science say on the matter? It basically says exercise does not impact postural alignment and, furthermore, we probably shouldn’t care a whole lot. The key message so often in kinesiology is that we are all built and move differently. This variability is seen in our posture too, which means the idea that there is some gold-standard of posture we should all strive for just isn’t true.

So, what should you be concerned about when it comes to posture?

1. Being in one position for too long. Static positioning often irritates the nervous system and not because you are in a less than optimal position, but because you haven’t used your body in several hours. Get up and move!

2. Posture under load. There are certain positions that may make one more prone to injury when the system is under heavy load, say with resistance training. So, yes, pay attention to posture/form in these scenarios.

Outside of these two situations, stop worrying so much about your posture. There is no normal to shoot for. Your posture is your normal. Embrace it and move often!

1. Kuo YL et al. Sagittal spinal posture after Pilates-based exercise in healthy older adults. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2009.

2. Kloubec JA. Pilates for improvement of muscle endurance, flexibility, balance, and posture. Randomized controlled trial. J Strength Cond Res. 2010.

3. Hrysomallis C et al. A review of resistance exercise and posture realignment. Review article. J Strength Cond Res. 2001.

Article written by Dr. Tom Walters (@rehabscience), a member of team EBT.


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