Portraying confidence when you walk into a room or on the playing field can start with your posture. Men who have a sedentary lifestyle, spend long hours in front of the computer or who lift weights with incorrect form may develop postural deficiencies. Aspects such as slouching shoulders, a forward head and an anterior pelvic tilt – or stomach pooch – can lead to body pain, discomfort and injuries. Aligning your muscles, bones and ligaments properly lends to improved speed, efficient muscle use, agile movements and a general feeling of well-being.
Stand sideways in front of a mirror in your underwear with your feet hip-width apart and spine elongated. Ask a friend to take a photo if you have trouble getting an accurate view. Your head, shoulders, hips and ankles should be in one line; notice if you are leaning forward or backward, or if any parts of your body are sticking out.
Stretch your neck to correct a forward head; tight muscles can cause your head to stick out in front of your shoulders. Press your shoulder blades down your back as you bring your chin toward your chest; hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
Reverse hunched or raised shoulders by strengthening your upper back. Many men want a developed chest so they go heavy on bench pressing yet pay little attention to their back. This leads to over-trained chest muscles, which can pull the shoulders forward. Train your back as often as you work your chest. Perform back exercises such as lat pulldowns, rows and scapula retractions. Choose a resistance level that allows you to complete at least eight but not more than 12 repetitions with proper form.
Fix your stomach pooch by strengthening your abdominal muscles. Weak abs can accentuate the curve in your lower back and cause your stomach to stick out. Perform exercises that activate the transversus abdominis, which is the deep-seat abdominal muscle that helps you pull your abs in toward your lower back. Perform planks, flutter kicks, supermans and bicycle crunches.
Strengthen your glutes, which can aid in fixing an anterior pelvic tilt while also lending stability to your thighs and hips. Perform squats, step-ups, lunges and deadlifts with resistance, such as barbells and dumbbells. Avoid using weights that are too heavy for your fitness level; compromising your form can exacerbate your posture issues.
Improve the flexibility in your hips and thighs to align your feet forward, rather than having your toes point in or out, which can throw your posture off. Incorporate yoga poses that target the hips and thighs into your stretching sessions. Beneficial yoga poses include bound angle pose, big toe pose, one-legged king pigeon pose and sphinx pose, the latter of which stretches the front of your hips and thighs. Hold each pose for 30 to 60 seconds.
Complete three sets each of two to three exercises per muscle group, at least twice per week. Allow each specific muscle group to rest for 48 hours between strengthening sessions.
Consult with a physician before starting a new strengthening or stretching program. Inform your doctor of any posture issues and body pain or discomfort that you may be feeling.