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Posture and Sports Performance

Modern lifestyle has got us sitting for hours at a time in a poor position, whether it’s at a desk for work or web browsing at home or slumped on a couch watching TV and using a laptop. Of course, this is now compounded by an increasing number of us working from home following the COVID-19 Pandemic. We are no longer getting that walk, cycle, run, drive to work which may have been our only exercise/movment for the day. This leads to muscle imbalances causing postural problems, even in those who train for a sport. Think about it, how many hours are spent sitting vs the hours training.

In some sports, there is the additional training factor that can develop a hunched posture, shorter hamstrings or hip flexors. For example; both swimming and cycling tend to develop hunched shoulders. If you do not have the muscle flexibilities and strength balances to naturally hold proper, efficient posture all the time, you will struggle to reach your potential, no matter how hard you train!

In summary, forward head, round-shouldered posture decreases sports performance because:

1. A forward head requires more energy to hold up during cycling and running, which can prematurely fatigue the neck, shoulders, and upper back. A forward head affects a horses way of going through the riders weigth distribution, it affects the appearance in a dancer or gymnast.

2. Changes to spinal curvature top to bottom occur, making the body less biomechanically efficient. Pelvic angle and limb range of motion also affects running stride.

3. Hunched shoulders and tight chest muscles impede upward movement of the ribcage, increasing the energy necessary for deep breathing.

4. Decreased shoulder range of motion due to tight chest and shoulder muscles decreases swim stroke/throwing/reach length and strength.

5. For swimming/triathlon the forward head posture positions the head further down into the water, forcing one to roll excessively and work harder to breathe.

Most importantly, taking care of your postural imbalances will prevent injuries of all kinds. For example;

> the swimming and cycling aero position increases load on the neck, which when combined with forward head posture, increases the probability of ruptured discs and pinched nerves.

> The rounded shoulders with tight chest muscles will lead to an inefficient sequencing of the rotator cuff leading to shoulder injruy.

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