Have you heard of the term functional fitness?  Maybe not, but perhaps you’ve seen me meticulously correcting the form and posture of my clients at the gym?  No?  While most onlookers probably consider me to be some kind of drill sergeant with a chip on her shoulder, the truth is that performing exercises that are ‘functional’ while using correct posture is a significant factors in achieving lasting, real-world fitness results.

The goal of this 2 part article is to define neutral posture and functional training and inform you on how it can make you a better athlete, a safer senior citizen, and a stronger home-maker.

What is neutral posture?
According to http://www.oehc.uchc.edu/ergo_neutralposture.asp, “Neutral Posture” refers to the resting position of each joint-the position in which there is the least tension or pressure on nerves, tendons, muscles and bones. It is also the position in which muscles are at their resting length-neither contracted nor stretched. Muscles at this length can develop maximum force most efficiently.

The neutral position requires you to keep shoulders under the ears, maintain the natural curve of the spine, and a neutral pelvis. Most often, people tend to round out their upper back or rotate their pelvis back as they fatigue.  Although being in this non-neutral position may help you complete the exercise, it can actually be detrimental to your body and can put you at risk for injury to either your back or shoulders. You’ll need a good eye when looking for yourself to “lose position”.

What does posture have to do with fitness results?
Understanding and utilizing the neutral posture during exercise and athletics gives you a lot of benefits.  You’ll notice your effort to train from the neutral position transferring into reduced knee pain, improved balance, improved core strength, and more.  The following is a brief list of additional benefits you’ll experience, especially when you use this method long-term.

-develop balanced musculature
-prevent undue stress on joints
-improve performance
-use appropriate muscles during movement
-protect spine by developing supporting muscles
-allow lungs to draw in full capacity of breath
-reduced risk of injury
-alleviate or reduce lower back and neck pain

This has been a brief summary of both neutral posture and why it matters in fitness results.  In part two of this series, I will define the term functional training and explain how it applies to real world fitness results.  If you are interested in learning more about functional fitness and understanding how to train with correct form and posture, email me at jes@jesreynolds.com and we can set up a personal training session.