Why is it that although the benefits of an actively strong posture are universally recognised, the vast majority of “elite” athletes, individuals who by definition need to be better adapted, are still not aware of the need for its very specific inclusion? The importance of learning how to deliberately master this most basic of human movement principles in all things training, and consequently the inherent advantages this will have on sporting outcomes, cannot be overstated. Examples of this profound shortcoming is plain to see. There is abundant footage of athletes from all sporting backgrounds, parading around with protracted shoulders and inactive Lumbar curves, while also engaged in a multitude of chronically slouched and intrinsically contraindicated, non-functional positions. Where are their informed and current fitness support staff and medicos? By the time athletes compete in their chosen sports, postural considerations need to be second nature. It should be as obvious as it is logical, that with greater attention to an athletically trained posture, many of the most common soft tissue and impact/collision injuries could be better alleviated through the way in which these episodes relate to the body’s natural propensity to best absorb and distribute load? Unfortunately, there is serious doubt as to the effectiveness of the traditional training methods still employed to achieve the perceived fundamentals of a finely tuned athlete, and is quite possibly a significant contributing factor into why soft tissue and structural injuries still occur in pretty much epidemic proportions, with not even the slightest successful reduction in rehab times to look forward to. Showing zero improvement in more than twenty years of a dedicated "science based" approach to the pursuit of enhanced sporting adaptations. It is surely time to think “outside the box”, and source cutting edge drills, exercises and systems, which deliver “real” sports specific strength, palpable improvements in muscular range, contractile endurance, and flexibility/mobility considerations, as athletes continue their pursuit of functionally tailored sporting adaptations.
In view of the above, several problems still exist in this field:
1. Athletes are asked to perform exercises/training which are neither functionally appropriate, nor specific to athletic requirements. For example: involvement in power regimens, when chosen sports have nil true demands for power. Oftentimes, anaerobic strength/endurance is misconstrued with power, and athletes perform pointless movements which promote adaptations that produce muscular inflexibility and tightness, rather than the vital instinctual responsive agility in producing effort and accepting counter-effort.
2. Traditional training methods still produce one-dimensional and superficial outcomes. A vastly inadequate approach, as precious little time and co-ordinated attention is allocated to simultaneous multi-planar functional adaptation processes, which concentrate on the athlete’s more deeply rooted propensity to absorb loads when it is coming the other way. The ability an athlete may have to produce multiple intensive efforts, isn’t necessarily indicative of that same athlete’s capacity to absorb an opponent’s counter-effort. This elusive adaptation is a direct reflection of an athlete’s purposely integrated training regime to both “give and take” in a contest.
3. All things considered, it must be acknowledged that any capacity to consciously invoke and maintain the more deeply rooted propensities in loaded game day situations is extremely difficult. However, once the correct training concepts and techniques are applied, they will provide the necessary adaptations to carry athletes through to that heightened level, where the vitally important inclusions become incidental. Through practical and specific experience, athletes will even feel these incidentally adapted postural inclusions in their sleep!
Not surprisingly therefore, the principal centres in the human body designed for maximum sporting output and absorption, are also the means by which the various multi-directional possibilities of load are more safely distributed. However, this can only be the case if appropriate and comprehensive impact/collision absorption adaptation practices are correctly and consistently applied. Be assured though, this is not possible when using the structured support and stability methods of traditional strength, fitness and flexibility training. Why place your sports adaptation practices on predictable support and structure methods, when sport itself is athletically random, unpredictable and unsupported?
For this reason, the following postural guidelines should be strictly observed.
The Active Lumbar Curve.
In life generally, and sport specifically, there are many different positions and postures, each requiring strict attention to inclusion of the active lumbar curve. Like the core (a separate issue, worthy also of in depth discussion), it is essential to be able to activate this curve at will and in any situation. The most effective way to learn and practice this skill is to assume an all-fours position on the floor. Once in this position, alternate the arch of the lower back from extreme convex to deep concave (slide demonstration below). It is a movement where the pelvis is tilted forward, and is technically controlled by contracting the Multifidi local to the Lumbar curve.
The Retracted Shoulder/Scapula.
As Bodii principles are committed to honouring the natural physiology of the structures of the body, and as it is the purpose of the spine as a whole to absorb load, acknowledgement is also necessary in respect of the upper spine. To this end, the retracted shoulder/scapula is employed to maintain the integrity of the Cervical and Thoracic curves of the spine. In the slideshow below, the relaxed shoulder/scapula position and the retracted state are illustrated. As the relevant concepts & techniques are applied, and the required adaptations and inclusions begin to occur incidentally, it becomes apparent the inclusions of Lumbar curve and shoulder/scapula retraction are interdependent. Especially as in many training scenarios, if shoulder/scapula retraction is lost, so also is the active Lumbar curve.
In closing, it is the responsibility of all fitness professionals involved in the training of athletes of all levels to ensure all facets of posture are included in each and every exercise, drill and component of any approved strength and fitness training system.