Your Posture is why your (insert body part here) is messed up

For anyone planning to take my Fitness Assessment seminars in Edmonton and Calgary World Health clubs this coming March, I’m going to give away everything, in haiku form!!!!!!!

Posture is the key

To all assessments of the

kinetic chain, yo!

That’s right folks. You just read your first fitness assessment-related haiku. This will rank right up there with JFK, the Oilers making the cup finals in 2006, and Obama being elected for events that make you remember where you were when you heard it and tell people over and over for decades at crappy neighbor parties.

I’ve always believed that assessments should serve two purposes:

1. Show how the body moves under the effects of normal external forces (gravity, torque vectors, and potentially external loads)

2. Pick out dysfunctional movements or segments of the body through specific testing

I’ve never been a big fan of passive assessments, as there are too many confounding variables that are up to interpretation, such as hydration, compression (testing later in the day will usually result in less joint mobility, but more muscle mobility), fatigue (again, end of the day will have a greater amount of fatigue pushing the body into flexion bias than early in the day), nutrition, sleep, anxiety, etc, etc, etc. Literally the only time I’ll do a passive assessment is if the person has pain and I’m trying to figure out if their type of pain is one that can be trained or has to be referred out to an allied health practitioner. I’ve always believed that a passive assessment is testing a scenario that can never actually happen: supine position, completely relaxed muscles, lax joint, under no effect of gravity. There’s a place for this kind of testing, but for the most part it doesn’t prove any more than an active or dynamic assessment will prove, and in most cases the interpretation of the results may prove inaccurate once we get the person to actually move. I’m sure there’s a lot of people out there who will want to hang me by my short hairs disagree with me on this one, but that’s my stand, folks.

Hang on a second, my soap box is pretty high today.


There we go. Okay, back to posture.

Let’s take a look at pretty much every major joint or injury in the body that can be injured due to overuse micro trauma.

Shoulder: scapular dyskinesis from kyphosis can result in rotator cuff impingement, AC strain, bicipetal tendinitis, and rotational deficiencies

Hips: anterior or posterior tilt can alter the angle the femur sits in the acetabulum, thus altering the wear on the surface and predisposing arthritis, but will show hip pain and back pain before then

Knees: pelvic tilt places unbalanced forces on the anterior or posterior meniscus, and pre-dispose ACL injury risk as well as patellar tendinitis

Ankles: hyperextended knees can cause a loss of dorsiflexion, flattening of the feet, and the smell of despair and angst when the person takes of their shoes (okay, made this one up)

Spine: Where do I begin….

Hell, there’s even research on the topic. Check this action out, from the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (Vol 11, No 2, March/April, 2003, 142-151):

Scapular dyskinesis is an alteration in the normal position or motion of the scapula during coupled scapulohumeral movements. It occurs in a large number of injuries involving the shoulder joint and often is caused by injuries that result in the inhibition or disorganization of activation patterns in scapular stabilizing muscles. Treatment of scapular dyskinesis is directed at managing underlying causes and restoring normal scapular muscle activation patterns by kinetic chain-based rehabilitation protocols.

In other words:

The shoulder shure don’t move so good when you’re back’s all slouched and stuff.

Try this one on for size: Sit up at the table or desk or lean-to where you’re reading this, and raise your arms over head as far as you can. Pretty high, right Cheech? Riiiiight.

Now, slouch like it’s going out of style and you’re trying to stockpile all the slouch so no one else can have any, and then try to raise your arms over head.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Piss poor posture produces piss poor potential. Holy alliteration, Batman, that’s a lot of P’s!!

So the next time you get a little achy in your owies, check to see what it’s connected to, where it breaks down, and what your posture actually looks like. Odds are, unless you were hit by a truck or you insulted a redneck’s mullet, your injury could have been prevented. By fixing small postural problems before they turn into big injuries that keep you down, you can turn yourself into a super-human bad-ass like yours truly.

About deansomerset

Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, Post-Rehab Specialist, personal trainer and probably the coolest guy my mom knows, I try to impart a little knowledge with a sense of humor to keep people reading. I've always thought if it's something that can grab your attention, you're gonna remember it tomorrow!!
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9 Responses to Your Posture is why your (insert body part here) is messed up

  1. Trey says:

    Thanks for the insight Dean. If I have anterior pelvic tilt that is causing hip pain (especially after deadlifting), what is the best way to attack it?

    • deansomerset says:

      I owuld say start with your approach to the bar and see if your technique has some faults to it or not. You’re probably not getting a posterior tilt on your approach and it’s making your back do all the work. Try working on glute strengthening movements like a hip press, and mobilizers to get you used to doing tilts like a cat camel stretch to make it easier to position when you have a load on your back.

  2. Dean,

    Would you say there is a point where one should stop addressing postural issues during every exercise and be content with where he/she is with the movement? I’m thinking along the lines of the quote “You can find something wrong with anything, but you can’t find everything wrong with something.”

    • deansomerset says:

      Definitely, you can only tell someone their posture sucks for so long and do so many corrective exercises before you have to take them to the wood shed. Still focus on getting it in line, but use it as a progression versus a “get there now” philosophy and it will mean better long-term results.

      Love the quote by the way, I may have to steal it.

  3. R. Smith says:


    I would normally write here that you’ve given us “another great read.” But that’d make me Captain Obvious.

    Amazing how we all neglect posture until we start listening to smart folks like yourself and realize it’s the principal culprit holding us back. I did. It’s been astounding to see how moving better is so underrated.


  4. Mike Groth says:

    “Piss poor posture produces piss poor potential”, and, “So the next time you get a little achy in your owies” – both so great, so well worded.

    I’d like to put in my own .02$ as well, speaking from experience:
    I have winged scapula galore, primarily in my right shoulder, due to several labrum/subscapularis/posterior capsule tightening surgeries in the past 4 years. After being heavily exposed to Gary Gray, I thought my issue resided in thoracic spine mobility, specifically a lack of extension and rotation, so natually, I hammered down on both via quadruped extension/rotations and t-spine extensions on the foam roller. Little did I know that T-Spine and ST/GH joint kinematics are only part of the solution. I’m still in the midst of my progress, but after getting getting some manual physiotherapy sessions to pulverize my pec minor, upper trap, scalenes, and levator, coupled with supine straight arm protractions with a 5 second peak isometric hold at end range of motion, I’ve been seeing some significant progress.

    So, to make a long winded story a little shorter, I’ve found that you can get after mobility until the cows come home, but until you also engage soft tissue work for over-active muscles, and then ACTIVATE those weak-ass muscles that have been dormant for so long (in my case, serratus anterior was weaker than a baby’s fart), you won’t get anywhere.

    keep up the great posts Dean, very entertaining.

  5. Andrew says:

    Mike troth – I am the same. I have winging in both shoulders. I think I have had it forever. I’m am getting A.R.T onve a week and are seeing great improvements But my practitioner (also physio and chiro) thinks I have had/have some nerve issues. Definately agree with the soft tissue work.
    Google buchberger 12 exercises. They have helped a lot and obviously stuff from the ususals, dean, Tony g, Eric cressey, Robertson, cook, and so many more.
    Good luck.

  6. Mike Groth says:

    Andrew –
    thanks for your advice. i’ll give these a try. excellent resource those buchberger 12!

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