Today, while very busy at work and not at all doing Internet browsing during non-break hours, I came across a new bit of info that really illuminated my posture issues in a manner I’d never considered before. While reading through a list of muscle-development activities that might be cause for posture difficulties, I noted the usual culprits: weak core, weak butt, strong chest, etc.. In the midst of this list, however, I came across a muscle that I had never considered to be a problem in this way:
Latissimus dorsi, as the kids call it, is the large “wing” muscle of the back… the muscles on each side of the spine that are most responsible for providing that tapered-v look. It connects from the lower spine and wraps around up to the arms, so it covers a lot of area. The novel idea that this website opened my eyes to, though, is that if the lats are tight they basically create a bow effect. Think of a string with one end tied to my upper back and the other to my butt (now, please stop thinking of my butt [stupid, sexy Flanders]). If that string is tightened, as on a bow, physics demands that my body will need to bend outward to compensate for that extra tension. So, if my lats are tight, it makes complete sense that it would pull the back of my pelvis upward and force my lower ribs out in front of me. What makes lat muscles tight? Well, strengthening them through exercise sure will. What is a great exercise for lat development? Pull-ups. Who does a lot of pull-ups in his workout routine and has two thumbs? This guy.
Tight lats aren’t likely the root cause of all of my issues, but the evidence really stands out that they’re a pretty big influence! I’ve been wondering why my posture has actually been getting a little worse in some ways, and the fact that I’m so actively strengthening these bow-strings behind me really illuminates the situation in a new way.
So, what does this mean for my fitness regiment? Well, instead of diminishing one area of development, I’m going to increase the opposing side; instead of simply weakening the string, I’m going to strengthen the bow. I was already heading in this direction anyways, but now I am really going to focus on developing a stronger core, especially on the front end. If you feel like you might have a tight upper back, yourself, this is a decent article which pinpoints some tests and stretching solutions to try out.
This fitness path is an interesting one… never know what one might find out next! It sure keeps things exciting, and it serves my curious nature pretty darn well. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to continue working very hard at my busy job and then go strengthen the heck outta my bow :).