By Jesse Kepka
NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist
One of my favorite chapters in our 30 Tips book is called “Postural Dominoes.” Two important notes here:
- We know that the position of our feet can affect body mechanics all the way to our cervical spine.
- We call on our muscular system to move our skeletal system. (General day to day movements and basically what’s happening while we’re working out.)
In effort to maximize efficiency (i.e. increase strength and power) of movement and lessen our risk for injury, we can keep those two gems in mind and set our systems up to work together seamlessly. But it takes some focus and reteaching of muscle-memory. For today’s tip, let’s focus solely on the position of our head.
During your workout today, pay attention to the position of your cervical spine. Start by doing a self-assessment, making sure your ears are above your shoulders, not forward. Pretend there is a steel pole that goes through the top of your head, down to your hips. Everything here should move as one piece. Confused? Try taking a broomstick or a body bar and hold it vertically along your spine. There should be 3 points of contact: your glute, your thoracic spine, and your head. Can you hinge at your hips, keeping contact in all three places?
During sessions, the most common movements where our heads tend to fall forward off the track are planks, deadlifts and pressing movements. Before beginning, set up your posture and imagine that steel pole – don’t let it fall apart when you start moving. In planks, our head likes to drop and watch our feet. If you feel that happening, tuck your chin. Don’t look down but pull your head backwards like your dodging a punch from the side. In pressing, if we can’t seem to find our pecs initially, our head will push forward in effort to make the rep happen. Again, check it before you wreck it! In deadlifts (and squats) we like to look up. Keep your eyes forward and your head in a neutral, home position.
If you find yourself with a lot of neck tension and headaches, this body awareness can help alleviate some of that. If you’re lifting heavily while moving dynamically with a forward head, your risk of injury will skyrocket and you’re denying a large amount strength and power.
If you have difficulty simply positioning your ears above your shoulders in static posture, there are some muscular imbalances of which I encourage you to correct. Let me know if you have questions here and want to know what the first step is. It’s worth the time and effort to explore, I promise!
Tip shared by Jesse Kepka, NASM-certified personal trainer, corrective exercise specialist and owner of Elevate Fitness. Jesse is a co-organizer for Priority Fit Camp. Each week, we publish a health and wellness tip that is shared at the Priority Fit Camp community workout. The free group class happens every Saturday at 7:50 a.m.Click for more info on the free Saturday group workout.