Weight Lifting, Sitting, and Poor Posture
Weight training is a phenomenal workout for health, strength, power, athleticism, and body aesthetics. However, it is not without its downsides. Someone lifting without a thorough understanding of the body’s musculoskeletal system is extremely likely to cause postural imbalances due to changes in muscle development and lack of flexibility. I see postural problems of varying degree in most experienced lifters, including myself.
Here I’ll be covering two of the most common: rolled shoulders and anterior pelvic tilt. Both rolled shoulders and anterior pelvic tilt can also be caused by excess sitting and a sedentary lifestyle. It is quite possible to have these imbalances without ever picking up a weight.
Both of these imbalances have a similar dynamic. The shoulder and hip joints are surrounded by different muscles on 4 sides up/down front and up/down back. Imbalance in these muscles causes a shift in the joint, and poor posture.
Ah, the infamous rolled shoulders. The ultimate meat-head lifting trap. This is probably the most common posture imbalance, if only because so many people skip leg day.
Rolled Shoulders are caused by a muscle imbalance between chest, upper traps, lower traps, rear deltoids, and other internal shoulder muscles such as the rotator cuff. The most common cause of rolled shoulders is an over-emphasis on chest and other forward presses, while neglecting rear delts and lower traps. Lack of chest flexibility also increases this imbalance.
There are twice as many muscles in the back and rear shoulders as in the chest and front. As such, I would suggest a 2:1 ratio on back to chest lifts. Anything less is likely to cause forward shoulders.
How to Fix Rolled Shoulders:
- Emphasize strengthening the rear delts, lower traps, and rotator cuffs. I would highly recommend a resistance band to augment weight training in this regard. Myself and Google are available for exercise ideas.
- Increase chest flexiblity through stretching.
- Actively practice better posture throughout the day by slightly cocking shoulders back.
- Myofacial release on the pectoral muscles.
Anterior Pelvic Tilt
The second most common posture problem is an anterior pelvic tilt. Anterior, meaning front, pelvis tilt. This is caused by the hips tilting forward. It causes an arch in the lower back, a forward lean, and hips that are unable to extend flush to the sides, such as in doing the splits.
Much like the rolled shoulders, the anterior pelvic tilt is caused by an imbalance and lack of flexibility between the quads, lower back, abs, and glutes. Strong quads and lower back pull the hips forward. Strong abs and glutes pull them backwards. An imbalance will lead one way or another, but the anterior variation is far, far more common. Most guys neglect glutes. I almost never see them doing glute bridges! But, to fix the anterior pelvic tilt, flexibility must be increased and muscle strength must be balanced.
How to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt:
- Focus on strengthening glutes and lower abs. The best way to do this is by glute bridges, and other variations, along with lower ab training.
- Increase hip flexor, quad and lower back flexibility. Flexibility is paramount in fixing this one. The 90 degree hip flexor and laying quad stretch are very effective.
- Myofacial release on the quads and low back
- Get off your ass. This one is caused and increased by prolonged sitting. Literally just being more active improves pelvic posture.
These posture problems are incredibly easy for even the most experienced lifters to fall into. Well, knowledge is power, and hopefully now you can avoid it.