How The Bar Method Gives You Great Posture
August 4, 2018
Hello, Bar Method students! I’m delighted to have the opportunity to be a contributor to The Bar Method blog. Today, I want to explain why Bar Method classes make you feel straighter and taller afterward. The reason is that The Bar Method puts a special focus on strengthening a muscle group that’s key to good posture. This muscle group is called the “erector spinae,” and it’s responsible for keeping your chest lifted and your head over your spine.
The erector spinae consists of three long, vertical muscles that run from your pelvis to the back of your neck. It functions to:
- Upright and lengthen your torso
- Lift your head over your shoulders
- Side-bend, twist, and arch your torso
When you activate the erector spinae, you straighten up. When you turn it off, you slump. You can activate it right now it by lifting your chest or simply by looking up. The Bar Method is the best workout I know of for strengthening and training the erector spinae because most of its exercises double as tough workouts for this muscle group. Here’s how:
- “Thigh-work” challenges your erector spinae by putting your hips in a flexed position, which causes your lower back to draw a little forward. Your erector spinae must then contract more than usual to keep your torso upright.
- “Seat-work” gives your erector spinae even more of a challenge. “Standing seat” and “diagonal seat” require you to actively draw your tailbone down with your glutes and hamstrings. Your erector spinae must then contract energetically in order to bring your head and spine back to vertical, which as you know can be challenging to maintain. Pretzel and arabesque go a step farther to strengthen your erector spinae by calling on it to hold a hyperextended position.
Other Bar Method Exercises that Work Your Erector Spinae:
- Plank, pushups and one-weight lifts recruit the erector spinae to help keep your head up and your back elongated. Shoulder-work and biceps-work need this muscle group to maintain good back alignment when you are holding weights in front of you. And the new on-all-fours “floor zinger” seat exercise performed with your opposite arm extended forward uses your erector spinae to keep your head up and your spine horizontal.
Of course, a vital component of The Bar Method’s ability to enhance your posture is your teacher’s vigilance. If you begin to slump or drop your head, she or he will remind you to “lift your chest and look straight ahead” or will physically adjust your body into good alignment. Last but not least, the Bar Method stretches your erector spinae after all of these exercises. These stretches increase mobility and minimize the risk of tweaking your back due to tight muscles.
In sum, The Bar Method trains your erector spinae to hold good alignment through a range of exercises, then stretches it to keep it supple and healthy. This formula makes it the best workout I know of for giving you beautiful, effortless posture.
– Burr Leonard