Tuesday, July 02 2019

The perils of poor posture go far beyond aesthetics.  Fortunately, the negative effects are reversible and preventable.  Aquatic fitness professionals have a unique opportunity to provide corrective solutions using the water’s resistance.  UK aqua/senior fitness expert, Steph Toogood, shares a three-pronged strategy for improving posture with water exercise.


Posture is often associated with parental scolding to stop slouching and stand up tall.  A stooped posture in older age has far more consequences than a defiant childhood slouch.  According to a recent article in U.S. World & News Report, poor posture can lead to issues with pain (neck, back, shoulder, jaw), circulation, breathing, digestion, headaches and more.  The quality of life diminishes as posture deteriorates. 


Human ancestry may be part of the reason the quest for maintaining good posture is so challenging.  “Historically we were quadrupeds but over time our bodies gradually evolved into today’s upright model,” says Steph.  If history has made maintaining posture more difficult, the future and modern technology may damn us.  “Today’s society conspires against us while standing, sitting and even lying to maintain that upright alignment in a healthy, comfortable and pain-free position,” adds Steph. 


Food for thought, Steph lists some 21st century necessities that might exacerbate poor posture.

  • Text neck or Turtle Neck posture - officially a condition that encourages a forward head position from prolonged looking down at a hand-held device.
  • Computer work- that daily task that so many people tackle without considering the position of their spine.  Improper seating can lead to postural kyphosis. 
  • TV watching - gradually as the evening wears on the seated position on a sofa deteriorates into a slump
  • Baby/Child care - the forward spinal flexion and internal shoulder rotation to cradle the child.  Pushing a stroller can also contribute to forward spinal flexion.
  • Walkers – similar to strollers, walking frames are often too low and encourage stooped posture.  Given the age of typical users of walkers, this can be a leading contributor to kyphosis, also known as hunchback. 
  • Walking - tendency to look down with a forward flexed neck to check for obstacles
  • Sleeping - the majority of us sleep in the fetal position often with a less than correct pillow to support the neck

Poor posture is reversible and preventable.  According to an article on Healthline.com, improving posture can reduce pain in your back, lessen tension in shoulders and neck, decrease the wearing of joints, increase lung capacity and improve circulation, digestion and much more.  Every fitness professional should be aware of posture health and make efforts to include corrective strategies in their exercise programs.   Steph Toogood just made this a lot easier for aquatic fitness professionals.


Pool Posture features three exercise segments that address key strategies for improving posture.  1) Strengthening weaker posterior muscles 2) Improving mobility in the joints that move those muscles 3) Stability and balance training for a stronger core.


As discussed above, the activities of life age us into flexion and stooped posture.  The first strategy is to identify the muscles that can help reverse this and then incorporate exercises that target those muscles.  This segment features water exercises that strengthen the posterior muscles of the body.  Watch Steph describe these muscle groups. 


Muscles and joints go hand in hand.  Joints move muscles and therefore full joint range of motion is essential for optimal alignment.  Poor posture can wear down joint surfaces and so joint health is a key strategy.  This segment features exercises that move the hip and the shoulder joints in all directions.  Watch Steph describe the hip and the shoulder as “magic” joints.

Needless to say, maintaining core strength is also an integral strategy for improving posture.  One of the best ways to ensure a stronger core is to train stability and balance.   This segment features water exercises that challenge balance and promote a strong, stable core.  Watch Steph explain the correlation between balance and a strong core. 

Pool Posture is an essential video tutorial for providing water fitness instructors with corrective exercises they can include in their regular classes to improve postural health and quality of life.  “My loyal senior groups regularly tell me that they are having less back and neck pain and that they feel better and look better,” says Steph. 

Stay tuned for an online education program that includes an extended education handout and a CEC Quiz worth 2.0 AEA CECs. 


Fitmotivation extends a big THANK YOU to Steph for once again traveling to Florida and sharing her passion and knowledge for creating exercise solutions for aging bodies.  Steph is the founder of Hydro-Actif, the United Kingdom’s most widely recognized and respected aquatic fitness organization. Check out Steph’s library of videos on Fitmotivation.com.


Author: Mark Grevelding is the founder of Fitmotivation. He is also a training specialist and consultant with the Aquatic Exercise Association’s (AEA). Mark has been active in the fitness industry for 22 years as a group fitness instructor, personal trainer, international presenter and a continuing education provider for AEA, AFAA & ACE.