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GRIT: Posture and Performance

Improve your performance by improving your posture.

Posture in an incredibly simple concept to understand. When asked to stand or sit up straight, we can quickly adjust our position. Most people at an intermediate level of fitness can maintain good posture while executing a lift in low reps at moderate weight. But, when it comes to controlling our body’s position while running or over high-reps, especially when fatigue starts to set in, posture is the first thing go.

In the words of Coaches Dan Pfaff and Stu McMillan, this is why there is a need for what is called “Active Alert Posture”.  This is defined as a balance of your joints (ankle, knees, hips, lower back, head and neck) and all muscle groups working in balance.

On two separate podcasts this week and during my weekend reading, the topic of posture and performance came up.  Both legends in their respective fields, track and field coach Boo Schexnayder and master back expert Dr. Stuart McGill both noted that posture is the single most overlooked determining factor for predicting performance. And, remember the words of Dr. Kelly Starrett:

“Mechanics are the heart of every legit/complete strength and conditioning program. Fitness, strength, power, etc. are all SIDE effects.”

Developing Active Alert Posture is not as simple as telling yourself to stay tall while you’re moving. This is a good place to start, but it does not account for chronic movement patterns that may be caused restrictions in your system. During this current GRIT cycle, I started photographing running strides and showing each person how they moved. This simple feedback raised self-awareness and caused some self-corrections, but it is only one element.

I highly recommend that each athlete become their own self-expect by learning to listen to their body’s pain signals, identifying restricted movement patterns, developing better proprioception, reflecting on the exercises that help or hinder freedom of movement, etc.  As a coach, I see part of my role is to provide feedback based on what I observe, but the athlete has the ultimate responsibility to commit to improving how they move.

There are few certainties in the fitness world, but it is hard to argue with the advice that if you improve your posture, not only will your performances improve, your general well-being will too.

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