How To Correct Your Body Alignment

Your posture says a lot about your personality. It also says a lot about how your joints and muscles are working. Here’s everything you need to know about assessing your postural deviations and how to fix them!

Living with bad posture can be a dangerous thing. The muscle and ligament imbalances that result from poor alignment can lead to all sorts of problems:

 

  • Chronic back, neck, and shoulder pain
  • Foot, knee, hip, and back injuries
  • Headaches
  • Stiffness
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle atrophy and weakness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Digestion issues
  • Impingement and nerve compression
  • Sciatica
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

Correcting Your Alignment

Most postural deviations occur because the muscles that work to hold a joint in place are imbalanced. Generally speaking, one muscle group will be too tight and the opposing muscle group will be too loose or weak.

The easiest and most effective way to correct imbalances is to stretch the overactive muscles and to strengthen the underactive muscles.

Standing Assessment Postural Deviations

If your body doesn’t look aligned, you might have one or more of the following postural deviations. Here’s how to spot these deviations and the stretches and strengthening exercises you can do to fix them.

 

UPPER BODY

DEVIATION 1: SWAY BACK

Hips Press Forward And Sit In Front Of The Ribs

DEVIATION 2: LOWER-CROSS SYNDROME

Excessive Curve In The Low Back, Pelvis Is Tilted Forward

DEVIATION 3: ROUNDED SHOULDERS

Shoulders In Front Of Ears

DEVIATION 4: FORWARD HEAD

Ears In Front Of Shoulders

DEVIATION 5: UPPER-CROSS SYNDROME

Rounded Shoulders With An Excessive Curve

DEVIATION 6: HEAD TILT

Head Tilted To One Side; Can Be Accompanied By Rotation Toward That Side

DEVIATION 7: UNEVEN SHOULDERS

One Shoulder Sits Higher Than The Other

 

Overactive muscles Stretches Underactive muscles Strengthening exercises
DEVIATION 1: SWAY BACK Hamstrings, gluteus maximus and medius, erector spinae, and quadratus lumborum (glutes, hamstrings, and low back) Runner’s stretch, world’s greatest stretch, seated glute stretch, lying crossover, hamstring stretch, hamstring self-myofascial release (foam rolling) Iliopsoas, external obliques, and rectus femoris (hip flexors and lower abs) Cocoon, exercise ball pull-in, hanging leg raise, scissor kick
DEVIATION 2: LOWER-CROSS
SYNDROME
Iliopsoas and erector spinae (hip flexors and low back) Pyramid stretch over ball, kneeling hip flexor, quadriceps stretch, quadriceps self-myofascial release, hug knees to chestt Abdominals and gluteus maximus Pelvic tilt to bridge, single-leg glute bridge, exercise-ball hip bridge, leg-elevated crunch, frog sit-up
DEVIATION 3: ROUNDED SHOULDERS Pectoralis major and minor (chest) Front deltoid stretch, elbows-back stretch, chest stretch on stability ball, dynamic chest stretch, chair upper-body stretchH Rotator cuff, lower trapezius, serratus anterior (muscles in the back surrounding the shoulder blades and rear delts) Seated cable row, back fly with band, shoulder external rotation, rear- delt row
DEVIATION 4: FORWARD HEAD Neck extensors, upper trapezius, and levator scapula (muscles behind the neck that tilt the head back) Neck self-myofascial release, chin to chest, sternocleidomastoid stretch (with palms up, reach your arms as far back as possible while turning your head to look to one side) Neck flexors (muscles in front of the neck that tilt the head forward) Isometric front-neck exercise
DEVIATION 5: UPPER-CROSS
SYNDROME
Trapezius, levator scapula, pectoralis major and minor, neck extensors (the back of your neck, traps, upper back, and chest) Neck self-myofascial release, chin to chest, front-delt stretch, elbows-back stretch, chest stretch on stability ball, dynamic chest stretch, chair upper-body stretch Rotator cuff, lower trapezius, rhomboids, serratus anterior, and deep neck flexors (muscles in the back surrounding the shoulder blades, rear delts, and in front of the neck) Isometric front-neck exercise, seated cable row, back fly with band, shoulder external rotation, rear-delt row
DEVIATION 6: HEAD TILT Sternocleidomastoid tilted toward midline. (The sternocleidomastoid runs from behind the ear to the collar bone, works to flex the chin down, move your ear towards your shoulder, and to turn the head.) Side neck stretch, neck self-myofascial release, sternocleidomastoid stretch Sternocleidomastoid tilted away from midline. Perform daily activities (e.g., chewing, carrying, pulling, lifting, and using a cell phone) evenly on both sides, isometric side-neck exercise
DEVIATION 7: UNEVEN SHOULDERS Trapezius (muscle running from the back of the neck into the shoulder girdle) on the elevated side Side neck stretch, neck self-myofascial release Serratus anterior (muscle running from upper ribs to the shoulder blade under your pecs) on the elevated side Perform daily activity like carrying, chewing, pulling, lifting, using a cell phone evenly on both sides; single-arm high-pulley row

 

LOWER BODY

DEVIATION 8: UNEVEN HIPS

One Hip Sits Higher, Can Give The Perception Of Leg Length Discrepancy

DEVIATION 9: FEET TURNED IN

Toes Are Turned In Toward The Midline Of The Body

DEVIATION 10: ONE OR BOTH FEET TURNED OUT

Toes Are Turned Out Away From The Midline Of The Body

 

Overactive muscles Stretches Underactive muscles Strengthening exercises
DEVIATION 8: UNEVEN HIPS Internal and external obliques, hip abductors, erector spinae and quadratus lumborum on the raised side (muscles along the side of waist and outer hip, low back, and the hip.). Runner’s stretch, world’s greatest stretch, IT-band stretch, IT-band self-myofascial release, seated glute stretch, lying cross-over, piriformis self-myofascial release, dancer’s stretchh. Varies based on individual Avoid high-impact and high-repetition exercises (running, plyometrics, etc.) until the pelvis is aligned. This will reduce the risk of secondary injuries in the ankle, knees, hips, and low back.
DEVIATION 9: FEET TURNED IN Tensor fasciae latae (outside of your hip) IT-band stretch, IT-band self-myofascial release Gluteus medius and minimus Bridge with band tension around thighs, lateral tube walk, squat with band tension around thighs
DEVIATION 10: ONE OR BOTH FEET
TURNED OUT
Piriformis and the other deep external rotators (muscles really deep in your hip attaching the femur to your sacrum) Seated glute stretch, lying cross-over, piriformis self-myofascial release, IT-band stretch, IT-band self-myofascial release, dancer’s stretchh Hip flexors and obliques Cocoon, exercise ball pull-in,
hanging leg raise

 

Correct Your Body's Alignment

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