Changing Posture and the Exercise Effect

Beyond weight loss, strength and muscle toning, exercise is most effective when it is also directed towards improving posture disorder and creating muscle balance. In recognition of this concern Crossroads Centre fitness program places emphasis on exercises that are functional and address the postural needs of each client.

Postural disorder or dysfunction, affecting an estimated 90% of populations, is so common place that it could be mistaken as normal, although it is not. One of the most notable postural problems is forward head posture (FHP). This postural profile, which is characterized by rounded shoulders and protruded neck, often creates an excessive curvature in the lumbar (lower) spine. These changes in the spine can cause nerve compression leading to sciatica, headaches, blood pressure, disc compression, burning and aching pain in the lower back, fatigue and even internal organ malfunction. There is also some evidence to show that bad posture can affect nerve tissue by altering blood flow to the spinal cord. Maintaining and becoming more aware of posture is critical.

Ideally, the head should not be held forward of the shoulders as has become commonplace, instead it should sit directly in line, much like a golf ball on a tee. Since posture plays an important role in overall health, especially of the spine it is important to avoid F.H.P. It is also important to be mindful of the fact that for every forward   movement of the head out of alignment, the supporting neck and spinal muscles are placed under tremendous tension. For every inch of forward movement from neutral at least 10-15 pounds of pressure is placed on the supporting neck muscles. In fact if the centre of the ear, a good guideline is moved forward of the shoulder by three inches the weight of head on the spine {its disc, joints and nerves} creates a pressure in excess of 30 pounds.

Common causes

Postural disorder is often associated with weakness and imbalance in muscle structures. This condition affect several areas of the body, but is more noticeable in the neck area where the muscles of the anterior shoulders and chest cavity are usually very tight and lack adequate flexibility, while the supporting muscles at the back of the shoulder and neck are often distended and weak. Our changing demographic, which sees us becoming more sedentary, is also a contributing factor. For instance, we spend extended periods in compromising postures while at computers, playing video games, watching television and commuting. Our exercise practices can also contribute to our postural demise. When exercise becomes repetitive, where selected muscles are continually being targeted the stage will be set for muscle imbalance.

Possible Solutions

To address this disease, which is what postural dysfunction has become, exercise must become a significant part of our daily existence, not just seasonal or conditional. Most importantly exercise programs must be designed with functionality in mind where emphasis is placed on preventing and correcting imbalances. To achieve this, more emphasis must be placed on core related activities to build core muscle strength with the aim to improve balance and (awareness) proprioception. Flexibility is also critical and must be practiced regularly, especially for individuals who focus primarily on muscle building and development. Additionally, as a compliment to exercise we must be more aware of our posture during regular daily activities. Be mindful that posture is both static, alignment of the body when you are still and dynamic alignment when the body is in motion, a compromise in one will affect the other. Finally, the use of proper ergonomic principles especially in the work place must become a priority.


Posture dysfunction is chronic, it affects the majority of populations however, it should not be accepted as normal, every effort should be made to eradicate it, it will require dedication and consistency most importantly it can be done.

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