We're frequently told to "stand up straight" or "stop slouching". Sure, posture is important to breathing well, organ function, and prevention of aches and pains, but have you ever thought about how posture can impact athletic performance?
Why Posture Matters
Posture is all about putting your bones, muscles, and ligaments in the best possible position to perform whatever it is that you're doing. When you think of posture like that, it becomes a little more clear how it can impact athletic performance. If your body is properly aligned, it gives you better balance, and a more stable base to perform skills like throwing, kicking, or changing direction.
It also gives you more motor control because your joints are in stable positions, and your muscles are in a position to function at their best. Posture can even impact the joints' range of motion. To see this in action, slouch and raise your arms over your head. Then, sit up straight and try it again. Your arms go up higher the second time because your shoulders are in a better position. You can imagine with more range of motion at the shoulder or hip that you can throw or kick a ball with more power and accuracy.
It's Always Changing
During a practice or game, your posture is constantly changing based on the needs of the activity. "Good posture" will also look different depending on the sport, position, what you're doing, and even what you're planning on doing next. Good posture for a defensive lineman looks a lot different than for a catcher and both of those are different than what the correct posture for a goaltender would be.
Because of this, athletes need a high level of postural awareness. In other words, they need to know how their bodies should be positioned and how they are positioned. This skill is what allows athletes to quickly change direction, react to a play, land a vault, and perform all kinds of complex skills.
How to Improve
Because athletic posture is so variable between sports, positions, and skills, it's impossible to make recommendations for every position in every sport, but the basic athletic stance is a good place to start. Think of a tennis player getting ready to receive a serve. They have
Feet shoulder width or a little wider
Weight evenly distributed side to side and front to back
A slight bend at the hips and knees
A flat back
To get more specific postural training, your physical therapist is a great place to start. A PT can not only teach you proper posture for your sport, but they improve your postural awareness and address any strength or mobility issues that prevent you from getting into that optimal posture. Contact Performance Physical Therapy at 401-726-7100 to get started and take control of your posture.