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Jack's Journal: Posture

Let’s talk about posture! It’s more than just a static position of how you are currently sitting or standing. Posture is something that you have with you 24 hours in a day, 7 days of the week. Sure, there is good posture and bad posture but it is yours and you own it all of the time.

While your third grade teacher was right, “sit tall, don’t slouch” is a great cue for good posture, there is more to it than meets the eye. If you’ve ever had lower back pain, you’d know there is MUCH more to posture than just standing up straight. It is getting all of the right muscles to fire in the right sequence and hold your skeleton in place (no, I don’t mean your Halloween decorations from last year).

So what does good posture look like? Great question! It all starts with a straight, tall, and long back (or spine). Now, if you remember from anatomy 101, there are two natural curves in the spine: one in the cervical region and one in the lumbar region. If I’ve lost you, don’t worry; what I’m trying to say is, anatomically, not everyone’s spine is going to be straight in a line.

So why do I keep talking about having a “straight” back? Another great question! I’ll answer your question with another question: do you ever have back/neck/shoulder pain after sitting long periods of time, like in front of the TV, at the computer, or even in the car? That is your answer, your muscles are saying “please don’t keep stretching us out like that ever again."

So what is the solution here? Look at you with another great question! Like many things in life, fixing bad posture isn’t necessarily a “one size fits all” answer. Meaning, it usually is a combination of a few strategies and techniques, and the composition of said techniques and strategies can vary from person to person. If you’ve taken a couple of classes at Tri Fitness before, you’ll be familiar with a few of the answers.

  • Engage your core: the main culprit of poor posture is a lack of strength and muscular endurance in our core musculature.

  • Think “long” through your upper body: You can engage your core but still have a rounded spine (like when you’re doing crunches). Imagine there is a string on the top of your head and someone is pulling it. Simultaneous core muscle contraction and thinking “long” through your spine are steps in the right direction toward good posture.

Some of the other strategies are:

  • Strengthen certain areas of your body (like your core).

  • Work on mobility in other areas (shoulders and hips).

  • Spend less time in poor posture.

  • If you occupationally or leisurely sit for long periods of time, try to stand up and walk around more often (every 20 minutes or so).

  • If you HAVE TO be sitting for long periods of time for your occupation, try sitting with good posture (tips above). Take the time to randomly assess your posture every 20 minutes. You’d be shocked at the positions you find yourself in when you’re not thinking about it.

I encourage everyone to do random assessments of their posture. I frequently check my own, and I get stuck with poor posture more than I’d like to admit. Again, posture is something you carry with you 24/7, so check it even when you’re exercising! The tips and strategies above are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to posture. Like I said, there is MUCH more to it than meets the eye! See? Your third grade teacher was on to something with the whole “stand up straight” shtick!

If you’d like help setting and achieving your health and wellness goals, please contact Jack Zahn at to set up an appointment.

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