What is posture?
Everybody has an idea of what posture is, but what is truly good posture and how important is it during your sport? Posture is defined as static posture or dynamic posture, it is the ability to hold a certain position for a prolonged period of time. Dynamic posture is determined by the ability to hold certain parts of your body to enable the acceleration of your prime mover muscles to execute the skill.
The importance of posture in sport.
Having seen the role posture plays in Sport both at an amateur and professional level, a few areas come to mind, the ability to both control the spine, accelerate the joints in question and to enable the skill of the sport to come to the fore.
Different sports obviously have greater demands on the role posture plays in each given sport. For example an elite cyclist needs to be able to extend their neck for prolonged periods of time; the line back in rugby requires shoulder flexibility during the scrum and the upper back enables this to happen even the netball player jumping for the ball requires thoracic spine extension (mid back) to enable the shoulders to reach over the head, to catch the ball.
In Fig 1a you can see me demonstrating elevating a bar with poor posture. This requires stability, posture, flexibility, and strength. The posture of the joints and muscles of the upper back enable the shoulders to accelerate the bar into the overhead position. Although the movement can be achieved with poor posture, it puts an extreme amount of pressure on the joints, ligaments etc and the chances of injury increases.
How can we change posture?
The role of posture in each given sport is beyond the text of this article, however there are certain exercises that can benefit most sports. For effective posture, I recommend a full orthopaedic assessment by a physical therapist with the demands of the sport taken into account.
The exercises recommended by the Therapist should take into consideration the fibre orientation of your postural muscles which require slow movement and long holds to improve the strength of the targeted muscles. The duration is usually between 30-120 secs of work. Below are a couple of examples of excercises that you can start to implement into your routine and start to improve the way you move during your sport.
Fig 2a Fig 2b