Assessing and Training for Better Posture: UPPER EXTREMITY POSTURAL DISTORTION

Part 3 of a series of 3 articles:
Some of the problems this posture can lead to include headaches, a painful nerve impingement in the shoulder, rotator cuff problems, and labored breathing or snoring. From an exercise standpoint, the body is not in an optimal position to perform many exercises such as overhead shoulder press, curls, chest press or fly, and so on. Individuals with this posture frequently mistake the soreness they experience in their upper back as muscle tightness when in fact the muscles are weak and extended - they need to be strengthened and not stretched.

Tight Muscles include:
- Pectoralis major and minor (chest)
- Latissimus dorsi (back)
- Upper Trapezius Upper back/below neck)
- Neck muscles (sternocleomastoid and levator scapulae)

Weak muscles include:
- Rhomboids and Middle/Lower Traps (upper back)
- Cervical Flexors (neck)

It is important to correct this posture early in an exercise program by strengthening the weak muscles and stretching those that are tight, and to avoid exercises that will worsen the condition and lead to progressive problems such an an impingement. Generally, exercises like incline chest press, shrugs, and front raises for the shoulders should be avoided. Front rows, and presses or pulldowns behind the neck - which are risky exercises for anyone - absolutely MUST be avoided. Corrective exercises would include scaption and rear flys emphasizing the rhomboids and middle lower traps, coupled with a stretching program.

The problem frequently shows up in poor form on simple exercises - such as lat pulldowns or tricep pushdowns done with the shoulders rounded forward. The exercises should be performed carefully. Please let me know if you need help with assessment, exercise selection or program design.

Corrective Exercise Program