I'm not the tallest man in the game so I know how important it is to stand up straight and be as tall as possible. Being a wicket keeper since the age of 7 and playing 15 years of the professional game has taught me that my posture was of the utmost importance as I was fighting an everyday battle against the postures of my sport!. From sticking your bottom out to crossing your legs, find out how everyday standing and sitting habits can cause back pain and other ailments.
Correcting your posture may feel awkward at first because your body has grown so used to sitting and standing incorrectly.
You need to retrain your body to sit and stand correctly. Initially, this may require a bit of conscious effort and some strengthening and flexibility exercises to correct muscle imbalances.
But with a bit of practise, good posture will become second nature and protect your back in the long term.
Kyphosis, 'text neck' and the hunch back.
If you spend several hours a day working on a computer, you may unconsciously find yourself adopting poor postural habits such as hunching over your keyboard, iphone or laptop. This position is usually a sign that you have a tight chest and a weak upper back. Over time, this type of posture can contribute to you developing a rounded upper back, a condition called kyphosis which can cause shoulder and upper back stiffness and pain not to mention the occasional headache!
When hunching over a computer, your head may tend to lean forward, which can cause stiffness and pain in the neck. Mobile device usage can also encourage you to hang your head and can cause similar problems known as ‘text neck’.
Upper back, neck and rear shoulder strengthening exercises, chest stretches and neck posture drills are recommended to help correct a hunched back.
Exercises to correct a hunched back:
Lordosis, sticking your bum out.
If your bottom tends to stick out or you have a pronounced curve in your lower back, you may have ‘lordosis’, which is an exaggerated inward curve in the lower back creating a ‘Donald Duck’ posture. This is often caused by tightness in your lower back and hip flexors and weakness in your core muscles, hamstrings and buttocks.
These muscle imbalances tilt your pelvis forward and can cause lower back stiffness and pain. Wearing high heels, excessive weight around the stomach and pregnancy can all cause this posture.
Core and buttock strengthening exercises and hip flexor and thigh stretches are recommended to help correct a sticking out bottom.
Exercises to correct a ‘Donald Duck’ posture:
Side lying leg raises
Hip flexor stretches
Standing quad stretch
Leaning on one leg
This was a classic position for me and many others, cricketers while standing in the field, waiting at the bar, bus stops, even worst leaning on one leg while texting away on your phone....double whammy!!. Leaning more on one leg while standing, sometimes referred to as ‘hanging on one hip’, can feel comfortable, especially if you’ve been standing for a while, but it's often the result of weakness in some muscles. Instead of using your buttocks and core muscles to keep you upright, you place excessive pressure on one side of your lower back and hip.
Over time, you may develop muscle imbalances around the pelvis area which can cause muscular strain and pain in the low back and buttocks. Other causes of uneven hips include carrying heavy backpacks on one shoulder and mums carrying toddlers on one hip.
To improve this posture, try to get into the habit of standing with your weight evenly distributed on both legs. Exercises to strengthen your buttocks and core muscles will help correct uneven hips.
Exercises to correct uneven hips:
Side-lying leg raise
Our whole lives we spend going forwards and hunching more and more. Although it may take a concious effort to pull our shoulders back and improve our posture it is worth addressing now rather than later.
To help you maintain a correct standing posture, imagine a string attached to the top of your head pulling you upwards. The idea is to keep your body in perfect alignment, maintaining the spine's natural curvature, neck straight and shoulders parallel with the hips.
Keep your shoulders back and relaxed
Pull in your abdomen
Keep your feet about hip distance apart
Balance your weight evenly on both feet
Try not to tilt your head forward, backward or sideways
Keep your legs straight but knees relaxed