Combating the North American Posture
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”
Truer words have never been spoken in reference to fighting the good fight against bad posture. Many people have fallen victim to what has become known as the “North American Posture,” which is characterized by excessively rounded shoulders and a pronounced forward head position, or an excessive lumbar curvature and protruding abdomen. The technical definition of the “North American Posture” falls under two headings:
- Upper Crossed Syndrome – A weakening and lengthening of the upper back and posterior neck muscles, and a tightening and shortening of the chest and anterior neck muscles (leading to the aforementioned conditions of the shoulders and head)
- Lower Crossed Syndrome – A Weakening and Lengthening of the deep abdominal muscles, gluteus maximus and gluteus medius, and Tightening and Shortening of the low back extensors, and iliopsoas and rectus femoris (hip flexors) (Leading to the aforementioned conditions of the lumbar spine and abdomen)
But what is a “victim” to do?
In reference to the opening quotation, we must first seek to prevent the pitfalls of the “North American Posture” by making behavioural modifications to 3 Main Areas of our North American Lifestyle:
- Prolonged Sitting – “Sitting is the new smoking” is a commonly heard turn of phrase nowadays. In order to modify this behaviour, try things such as:
- Changing your sitting position if you have to sit for a prolonged period of time. Also, try getting out of a chair and sitting on the floor
- Getting up and walking around when you’re doing things such as talking on the phone, texting, or working on a tablet
- Poor Exercise Technique – Cycling or running with rounded shoulders, and weight lifting with a “sway back” or rounded shoulders, will only serve to reinforce the negative effects of the “North American Posture.” Special attention should always be paid to exercising with proper technique.
- Imbalanced Training – “Chest Only” days at the gym, and doing exercises such as squats exclusively with the load on the shoulders, should be a thing of the past. Exploring Natural Movement (movnat.com), and engaging in balanced training for the whole body should comprise the bulk of our exercise regimen.
However, if we’ve reached point where a cure is needed, I have narrowed down my “Top 5 ‘On the Go’ Postural Corrective Exercises” that you can do pretty much anywhere. Combine these daily exercises with the aforementioned behavioural modifications, and better posture will not be too far in the future!
Be sure to do them in this order:
- Reaching Reverse Crunch (can be performed without the wooden dowel):
- Half kneeling and Rear Foot Elevated Hip Flexor Stretch (can be performed without the band):
- Floor Angels (neutral pelvic tilt with a flat low back is the key to this movement):
- Wall Angels (A flat low back with elbows on the wall are of the utmost importance):
- Wall “Y’s” (Be sure to avoid any low back extension during this movement):
*The information in these videos is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of a Physician or Physiotherapist prior to starting any new exercise program, or if you have any questions regarding an injury or medical condition.
If you have any further questions or would like any additional advice on combating the “North American Posture,” please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yours in health,
Jeff Berger, BHK, BACK, FMS LV. 2, Movnat LV. 1