- What would happen to the sprinter if she were slouched over? A waste of her remarkable muscle power.
- The full contact karateka’s devastating spinning kick would turn into a harmless wobbly spinning top.
- The archer would not be able to align her structure for a perfectly stable shooting platform.
In a great majority of athletic events and real-life tasks, a ramrod straight posture, or at least its approximation, greatly improves the efficiency. So get your carcass rebalanced.
Don’t Row Yet
A common recommendation for improving posture is to row. Yet you can row until you are blue in the face, but unless you have excellent thoracic mobility, you will fail to balance out your development and could get hurt in the process.
Does it make sense to load a movement one cannot perform without extra load? Would you put a barbell on the shoulders of a person who cannot do a single competent bodyweight squat? The answer, of course, is no. By the same token, if you are unable to open your chest up with no external resistance, you should not be rowing with weights.
First: Soft Tissue Work
You need to overcome the fascia’s and other tissues’ internal resistance first. Various soft tissue work will help. So would a stretch with a yoga block.
Lie down on the floor with a wooden block the size of a brick under your upper back. The block is strategically placed at a specific spot to ensure you are stretching where it should. You need to hang out there for a long time to allow your shortened tissues to “ooze” over the block. The head is supported by a folded towel that limits cervical extension and lets one hang out longer. Many minutes later, slowly roll to your side rather than sit up.
There are subtleties to this. You are well advised to see a yoga expert.
Two powerful posture improving drills from the SFG curriculum are the kettlebell arm bar and the windmill.
Then: Strengthen the Position
Once you have sufficient passive flexibility to have good posture—you can assume the posture, you just cannot hold it long—it is time to strengthen the right muscles. This is where rows and such come in. But chances are, you will not even need to bother with rows and will get the job done with the kettlebell ultra basics alone, the goblet squat and the one-arm swing from Kettlebell Simple & Sinister. The goblet squat forces you to raise your chest and the swing pulls the shoulder blades together and extends the entire posterior chain, from the base of your skull to your heels.
A little attention to opening yourself up will go a long way toward getting more speed, strength, precision, and endurance out of your muscles—with no added effort. As a martial arts master said, “Posture is balance and balance is power.”