Updated: Jun 29
Posture is a product of our own anatomy and lifestyle, therefore “good posture” looks different for everyone. Rather than striving for that perfect military-straight spine, maintaining postural integrity is more about assessing your daily activities, understanding whether or not your posture is serving you, and making appropriate changes. When it comes to men’s postural integrity, a great way to create change is through subtle tweaks to your exercise regime.
Looking at posture from a functional perspective allows us to make changes that are more sustainable. Avoid being reductive and making assumptions based on typically “good” posture, and rather prioritise your own needs by considering things like:
Your anatomy: pelvic tilt, position of shoulders, mobility levels
Your workday: What position do you spend the majority of your day in?
Your exercise: What kind? How often?
Becoming more familiar with these factors will allow you to make more informed choices on which exercises are most suited to you and your posture.
As previously mentioned, posture is a product of individual anatomy and lifestyle; so while gender plays a role in this it’s important to note that posture is never gender-specific. On the same note, it’s no longer relevant to claim that desk jobs are more common for men than women (so women, take note too). The Australian Institute for Health and Welfare conducted a study using data from the 2017-18 Australian National Health Survey on physical activity in Australian adults. In this study physical activity included three categories: sport/leisure, incidental activity and muscle strengthening. The study found that men are more likely to include muscle strength work (intentional exercise) in their weekly regime than females, though females often achieve more incidental activities (unintentional exercise) through Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). These findings recognise that men are more inclined to make time to train, though there is a caveat, albeit an anecdotal one. Many of the male clients we see at Muscle Medicine, who also happen to be desk workers, present with kyphotic postures or with strength deficits along the posterior chain. We’ve noticed that there’s a general preference for “push” work in the gym, or any exercise engaging the anterior chain. These movements are important and beneficial, although they can exacerbate “tech neck” postures.
Here are a few exercise ideas to combat this; easy to implement into a home rehab routine or within a gym workout.
1. Glute Strength
Sitting all day means that our glutes remain inactive, which in the long term means our hips become tighter. Focus on glute activation to maintain strong and healthy hips:
Glute bridges, 3 sets of 10
Clam shells, 3 sets of 10
Bodyweight squats, 3 sets of 10
2. Seated Rows
Focus on PULLING actions engages the vital postural muscles around our shoulder blades to activate, opposing the forward and inward position of the shoulders. This also helps to counteract the ‘pulling’ position many desk workers find themselves in.
Narrow rows: keep elbows tucked in beside the waist, 3 sets of 15
Wide rows: allow elbows to bend half way between waist and shoulder height, 3 sets of 15
Easy at-home option is to sit on the floor and wrap a resistance band around your feet for both of these.
3. Neck Flexor Strength
These tiny muscles are easy to forget about. Strengthening the muscles along the front of the neck stops the chin from jutting out and the head from hanging forward.
Double chins (don’t do in public): Sit or stand with your back against a wall, place two hands on the chin and use them to encourage the chin towards the throat. The top of the head should travel up the wall rather than into the wall. 2 sets of 10, 30 second hold at the end.
4. Prone Lying Twists
This is a brilliant exercise with multiple postural benefits for men - two of which being that it opens the front of the chest and it encourages thoracic rotation.
Lie on your stomach
Place both arms beside you in a 90/90 shape
Press into your left hand and lift the left side of your body. Your left shoulder will peel away from the floor
Continue twisting until your left ankle touches or hovers over the floor behind you
Repeat on the other side
Here’s a quick video
5. Deep Breathing
Shifting your breathing pattern from shallow chest breathing to diaphragmatic breathing can improve posture by decreasing the amount of gripping through the rib cage, shift the tilt of the pelvis and reprogram firing patterns of deep spinal muscles.
Lie on your back
Place feet on the floor with knees lifted
Place hands on the belly
Inhale for a count of 5, exhale for a count of 6, focusing on filling and emptying the belly
5-10 rounds of slow breath.
Here’s a muscle medicine video