In my Pilates studios, one of the more common complaints of new clients is their posture, one of the things I cue the most in Zumba class is posture. The poor posture that is most noticeable is the rounding of the upper back, with shoulders rolling forward. Sadly, this posture is becoming more common with the increased use of computers, desk work, texting on cell phones and hours spent driving. Known as kyphosis with forward head or in layman's terms, hunchback, this posture, once saved for the older population, is now presenting itself at a younger age.
Not only is this posture unattractive, it creates pain and undermines your ability to live a healthy, happy life as you get older. Simple daily tasks like bathing and
washing become more difficult. People with a slumped posture and excessive forward head are far more likely to fall and hurt themselves. The more extreme the posture becomes the more the chest sinks, constricting the rib cage, thus making the simple act of breathing difficult.
Regulary practicing good posture helps to correct these postural deviations by strengthening the postural support muscles of the back and neck, re-establishing balance and alignment of the body. While participating in your Zumba class or any fitness class, keep the front of the chest open by gently sliding the shoulder blades towards the spine, but keep the upper shoulder relaxed. Keep the abdominal muscles engaged, like you need to pull up the zipper on a tight pair of pants. Easy to do? No. Really important? Emphatically, YES! In the long run, focusing on correction of posture is one of the best investments you can make in your health. It will impact how much energy you have, how vital and happy you are, and over the long term, how well you age and how much you enjoy the later years of your life.
*Upper body alignment occurs when your ear lines over the shoulder and shoulder over the hip, as if an imaginary plumb line were drawn through the body, as shown in the above image. Notice how the weight of the head increases as it moves forward of the shoulders creating greater strain on the upper back and neck muscles.