Being a chiropractor, I regularly see patients dealing with neck and back pain that is directly related to poor posture. Since most of our patients sit at computers all day, text on their phones, and commute long distances, it’s no wonder they find themselves in a near-permanent hunched over position.
After attempting to “fix” their bad posture by purchasing pillows, supports, and braces, they finally come to the conclusion that they need to exercise in order to make a change. However, not all exercise will help you change your posture, some may actually make it worse. I find that many patients haven’t given any thought to specific exercises to help their posture, rather saying “I started exercising, thinking that would help my bad posture.”
It’s important to find an exercise that you enjoy doing, since consistency with your chosen program will make the biggest difference in affecting a lasting change. However, I think that cycling could be one of the more damaging exercises to do, especially if you already have poor posture. If you’re worried about your posture, you’ll either need to find a different exercise or do more back exercises to counteract spending even more time hunched over.
Cycling (including engaging in a “spin” class), puts you in a hunched over position. By itself, this isn’t a problem. Combine that with the forty hours per week you sit at a computer and any other activity you do in that same position, and you’re only going to make things worse.
Running could be considered neutral, neither helping nor hurting your posture. In many cases, however, I find that the non-competitive runner doesn’t give much thought to running style or technique. I see runners holding their arms up near their chest, essentially running in a hunched over posture.
For some, this position is about modesty, while others just aren’t sure what to do with their arms. Running hunched over can make your bad posture worse, while decreasing your lung capacity and making running harder to do.
If you want better posture, you’ll need to spend time cross-training or, at a minimum, spend time engaging your upper, mid, and low back to strengthen your postural muscles. Just doing sit-ups could potentially make things worse, since this exercise is performed hunching over and tightening front muscles while elongating back muscles.
Running won’t fix your bad posture, and could possibly make things worse if you’re not consciously making an attempt to remain upright during your runs. Regardless, consider adding weights, working some additional muscles, and focusing on improving your postural strength.