An Athlete’s View on Postural Importance
When I bring up the term posture, most people think of puffing their chests out and holding their heads up high. When I was little and my dad would tell me to stand up straight, I used to picture a soldier standing at attention as the drill sergeant walked by blaring obscenities in every direction. But true healthy posture isn’t so easily stated.
Posture can be defined as the position from which movement both begins and ends.
By this standard, posture could be the batting stance you assume while waiting for a pitch to be thrown. It could be the way you set up for a deadlift. Or it could be your start position on the track, preparing for a sprint.
More importantly, posture is the passive position you are in all day long. Walking, sitting, standing still. The passive position of your body is a crucial piece of the puzzle when identifying postural dysfunction and the movement issues that come along with it.
Posture dictates function and function dictates posture.
This means that the way we stand passively affects the way we move athletically, but it also means the way we move athletically further affects the way we stand passively.
A simple example-
A high school sprinter walked into my gym a few weeks ago. She wanted to get faster while getting rid of some knee and lower back pain, and she heard I was the guy to talk to. After doing a quick assessment, I concluded that she was strong, and had extremely quick reaction time and great endurance. However, when I assessed her static posture I noticed that she stood with locked knees and she had poor flexibility in the quadriceps. She also had an excessive curve in their lumbar spine.
For the first week we did nothing but stretch. Because of the tension in her quads and hips she was unable to get full range of motion in her quads, calves, and glutes. Her static posture and sports performance training in that posture had temporarily crippled her for her sport. After the about two weeks of stretching and performing exercises to restore her to her natural body position, she was able to continue her sprint training pain-free and faster than ever before.
This is the importance of posture in an athlete.
Good coaches know that athletes with postural issues can’t perform at their highest potential. Without restoring an athlete back to proper balance, no amount of sport or strength training will ever result in an improvement in performance and could in fact cripple the athlete.
Postural imbalances can arise for many reasons. Common among those include:
-unilateral rotation (golfing, baseball, throwing sports, etc.)
-constant sitting (driving, school desk. office desk, watching TV)
-improper sports movement (overtraining in an already poor postural state)
-weakness (particularly in the posterior chain)
-poor static posture
Not only does posture affect an athlete’s ability to perform on the field, it also governs the athlete’s ability to participate in sports all together. Poor posture leads to chronic injury. The mark of a good athlete isn’t always strength or speed.
The mark of a good athlete is consistency!
Too many athletes are unable to participate in games because of injuries that occur through improper training. Many of these injuries can be avoided if proper training protocols are in place, and if the athletes’ training program was designed to make them stronger while also keeping them flexible, stable and balanced. Without proper posture none of this can be achieved.