Most exercises that are out there aren’t necessarily dangerous for you to perform. If you are taught how to perform them correctly and safely, there should be minimal risk of injury anyway. However, there are some exercises that I believe should be avoided if you have poor posture.
What do I mean by rubbish posture? In today’s society, most people work at a desk hunched over a computer screen all day. This leads to rounded shoulders and a forward head position, which in turn has an effect on thoracic mobility, or upper body mobility. This isn’t good. You’re upper body is designed to have lots of movement, if this is reduced or taken away, the risk of injury increases.
On that note, I’m going to give you two common exercises I see people with poor posture perform, and then give you two alternatives I like to provide.
- The Overhead Press
Performing an overhead press can be a great tool of highlighting any issues you have with your mobility.
With rounded shoulders and poor thoracic mobility, it’s highly likely that your core won’t be working as well as it should. This means that whenever you try to press anything overhead, you won’t have the solid base to prevent your spine from going into hyperextension. Your spine is not built to go into hyperextension. Check out the video below of what this looks like;
That is not a pretty overhead press. See how far he’s leaning back to press the bar overhead? This places a massive amount of stress on your lower back which it isn’t designed to cope with. Start walking away from overhead presses with lower back pain and you’re starting a rocky road which will give you more problems than you would like. Record yourself and see if this applies to you.
If it does, you might be thinking what am I supposed to do instead? Well, if you’ve seen any of my other posts before, my go to would always be the single arm landmine press. Ideally you want to start with in standing position and then progress to a half kneeling position to challenge your core stability a bit more. This allows you to build that solid base and teach you to keep your spine straight and not put it into hyperextension. From the video below, you’ll notice that the landmine press doesn’t allow for full range of movement to press directly overhead. Don’t worry about it; this exercise is used to keep your shoulders nice and healthy whilst you work on corrective exercises to improve your overhead mobility. I’ll give you these later on in the article.
- The Bent Over Row
Everyone needs to do horizontal pulling within their training. With rounded shoulders and poor thoracic mobility, it usually means that the back isn’t as strong as it should be. Horizontal pulling helps improve this. It doesn’t always have to be by using the bent over row though.
So, why not the bent over row I here you ask? Well, performing the bent over row requires you keep stability of your lower body, pelvis and spine, as well as keeping dynamic tension through your upper back. This isn’t bad, but it’s not ideal for someone with poor posture as the likely hood is that if they’ve got rounded shoulders and poor upper body mobility, they’ll probably have poor hip mobility from sitting down all day. If this is the case, it’ll probably be a struggle for them to perform a hip hinge properly. Therefore, making them hold a hip hinge during a bent over row would be madness.
On top of this, as I mentioned at the start about someone with rounded shoulders and poor thoracic mobility needs to strengthen their back, they won’t actually have the strength to keep their spine straight whilst performing a bent over row. This will then ultimately lead to more pressure being put on the spine. This is not good.
To prevent any further damage, I like to give people the chest supported dumbbell row. This exercise takes out the hip hinge and ability to keep your spine straight out of the equation. In turn, having your chest supported puts more emphasis on actually working the muscles of your upper back rather than trying to keep your joints stable. Ideally you want to keep a neutral grip to avoid any internal rotation of your shoulders. After all, that is exactly what we want to get you out of in the first place.
Whilst we’re on this, it should be noted that I would probably offer a different alternative if you were in a class environment. If you had lower back pain performing a bent over row in a class, I would swap that with a split stance, single arm bent over row. Again, like the chest supported row, it just takes that pressure off your spine and hips so you can concentrate on the exercise itself.
Think Longer Term
Ultimately, the alternative exercises I have chatted about in this article are short term fixes. To have healthy shoulder and upper body mobility, you have to think long term. It can’t be something you forget about as you put yourself at greater risk of injury and reducing your quality of life. I mean, if you could never reach overhead, how you are going to grab that tin of biscuits on the top shelf you hide from yourself to get rid of any temptation!
On that note, below are two exercises I want you to try out in your warm ups and movement prep before you train. You can’t do these exercises enough.
Half Kneeling Banded Thoracic Rotations
Aim for 10 reps each side.
Banded Cuban Press
Aim for 15-20 reps.
As always thanks for reading. If you enjoyed the article, all likes, shares and comments are appreciated. Alongside that, if you are unsure about anything you’ve read or want to chat about having an assessment of your posture you can drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org