You know when you’re on the treadmill and your eyes can’t stop from wandering around? Well as my eyes wandered the other day, I noticed a very distinct pose that the majority of the gym seemed to have; this was especially true for the bigger, more muscular gymers. Many of these people had something I like to call the “chicken head”.
The “chicken head” is where your head is craned forward above your chest, sort of like a chicken does when it walks.
Still, it wasn’t just the big guys that had this stance; it was the personal trainers as well.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not bringing this up to make fun. I am just pointing this out to make my argument clear that most people – even the guys that are suppose to be ‘in the know’, have terrible posture.
Why am I making a big deal about posture, you ask?
If you read my last blog about the importance of your posture, you would know how posture could have a massive impact on your confidence.
With that being said, in this blog, I want to talk about how your posture can have an effect on your performance in the gym.
To do this I first must introduce you to reciprocal inhibition.
Reciprocal inhibition is when one muscle on one side of a joint relaxes to accommodate the contraction of the antagonist muscle (the muscle on the opposite side). For example, the bicep is an antagonist muscle to the triceps just as the quadriceps is and antagonist muscle to the hamstring. Get it?
With this understanding you can begin to comprehend how bad posture can lead to losing out on muscle strengths we would normally have.
You see, when you have bad posture and the problem is a muscular problem (as opposed to a skeletal problem) some muscles have become tighter along the body, pulling the body into a bad position. When a muscle is tight it is permanently contracted. The rule of reciprocal inhibition says that when the agonist muscle is contracted, the antagonist muscle is relaxed. When the muscle is relaxed due to the contraction of its opposition it is a lot harder to contract the relaxed muscle when working out, limiting your capabilities.
Let’s take a look at all the people in the gym walking around with the “chicken head”. What muscles are creating this terrible posture?
In this case, their chest is contracted pulling the shoulder forward and in a downward position. Seemingly, as the neck is above the shoulders – which are now in a forward, downward position, the neck is forced forward.
The antagonist muscle of the chest is the rhomboid and lower traps, resulting in these muscles becoming too relaxed.
It would be extremely difficult if you were to attempt to get a good contraction on these muscles due to the tightness of your chest muscle.
In fact, what is going to happen here is the lats will kick in and do all the work the rhomboids are supposed to do resulting the shoulder pressed even more forward only to make the situation worse.
This is one way bad posture can hurt your performance.
Another way bad posture affects our performance is by limiting our range of motion.
Our bones are nicely stacked up on top of each other, almost like a puzzle, and each bone fits perfectly onto of the next. When your bones are not in their correct alignment the joints are not in their designated place limiting their range of motion.
For example, let us go back to the shoulder.
I want you to try this at home now so you can see how it works for yourself.
Firstly, get yourself into a hunched position and try to lift your hands above your head. Note how far up your hand reaches. You’ll probably notice your not getting very far.
Now, stand in the best posture you possibly muster and lift your hands up in the air. Did you notice that all of a sudden your range of motion expanded and your hand reaches higher and further up?
I hope you are now able to see see how bad posture can directly bring down your performance in the gym by not only weakening many muscles but also limiting your range of motion.
How do you correct this you ask?
Spend sometime stretching the tight muscle (see my YouTube video The Best Type Of Stretches Before And After Your Workout!). Concentrate more on your posture while you working out rather than just focusing on the amount of weight you lift.
Take care of your body and your body will take care of you.