Importance of Proper Posture in Training


Some experts estimate that as much as 80% of the population will experience back pain in their lifetime (Rubin, 2007). This estimation is bolstered by the fact that the American population spends at least 50 billion dollars each year on issues related to back pain (MEDTEP, 1994). Individuals should work towards prevention rather than treatment of back maladies. One of the best preventative measures is proper posture in the midst of exercise and activities of daily living to improve spinal health.

Most lumbar disc injuries occur when the spine is in flexion or extension (Callaghan & McGill, 2001). This is one of the reasons that coaches are adamant about cuing clients to find a neutral spine position before proceeding with activity (e.g. shoulders back, tucked hips, tightening glutes). In exercise, one never wants to compromise spine position for the ‘ability’ to load more weight in an exercise (Boyle, 2016). One should practice stability prior to incorporating movement or increasing one’s weight-load while being mindful of avoiding excessive flexion or extension. The middle portion of the available range of motion has previously been described as the neutral range — this has been purported to be advantageous for preventing injury and enhancing athletic performance (Herring & Weinstein, 1995).

The next time you step foot into a gym, check your positioning. Don’t wait for a coach to correct your spinal position. Take responsibility for your postural and spinal health by learning the basic body weight movement with proper mechanics first and from that point forward, challenge yourself a little more. 

3 helpful tips for back pain prevention:

  1. Warm up and stretch properly, paying special attention to the hamstrings and hip flexors.
    1. The hamstrings need to be stretched in order to relieve pressure off of one’s back and prevent anterior tilt of the pelvis. The same goes for stretching the hip flexors as tight hip flexors can produce a posterior pelvic tilt.
  2. Maintain a healthy body weight through proper nutrition and an active lifestyle.
    1. A high fat and caloric diet in combination with an inactive lifestyle can lead to obesity, a condition that can put stress on the back. Proper nutrition to maintain a healthy body weight helps you avoid unnecessary stress and strain on your back. It is important to get enough calcium and vitamin D daily in order to keep your spine strong. These nutrients assist in the prevention of osteoporosis, the culprit to blame in many cases of bone fractures leading to back pain.
  3. Warm up and stretch properly, paying special attention to hamstrings and hip flexors
    1. Having the hamstrings at a normal length can help to prevent a posterior pelvic tilt and having the hip flexors at a normal length can help to prevent an anterior pelvic tilt. Stretching these muscle groups can help to relieve unnecessary pressure off of the spine.


Boyle, M. (2016). New Functional Training for Sports (2nd ed.). Champaign (IL):

Human Kinetics.

Callaghan, J.P., and S.M. McGill. Intervertebral disc herniation: Studies on a porcine model exposed to highly repetitive flexion/extension motion with compressive force. Clin. Biomech. (Bristol, Avon). 16(1) :28–37. 2001.

Herring, S.A., and S.M. Weinstein. Assessment and nonsurgical manage- ment of athletic low back injury. In: The Lower Extremity and Spine In Sports Medicine (2nd ed.). J.A. Nicholas and E.B. Hershman, eds. St. Louis: Mosby Year Book, Inc., 1995. p. 1189.

In Project Briefs: Back Pain Patient Outcomes Assessment Team (BOAT). In MEDTEP Update, Vol. 1 Issue 1, Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, Rockville, MD.1994.

Lee, J., Y. Hoshino, K. Nakamura, and Y. Ooi. Trunk muscle imbalance as a risk factor of the incidence of low back pain. J. Neuromusculoskeletal Syst. 7:97–101. 1999.

Rubin Dl Epidemiology and Risk Factors for Spine Pain. Neural Clin. 2007; May; 25(2):353-71.

“Handout on Health: Back Pain.” National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal

and Skin Diseases. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web.

28 June 2017.

aysiaAysia Shellmire – Prevail Intern

B.S. – Kinesiology (Westmont College)

Aysia was born and raised in Burbank CA. She graduated from Westmont College on May 6th 2017 with a B.S. in Kinesiology. Aysia played 4 years of basketball at Westmont College under Coach Kirsten Moore. She was 3 time All-Conference and 3 time All- American athlete and she holds the Westmont’s All-Time scoring record as well as the career rebounds record.

Aysia became interested in Kinesiology when she had a strength coach in high school. She was able to see how her workouts contributed to her progress on the court. Westmont’s Kinesiology Department helped foster her passion for coaching and sports performance with the guidance of some amazing teachers including Prevail CEO Chris Ecklund and Trainer Alexis Anderson.

Aysia plans on getting her CSCS this fall and possibly continue to play semi-pro basketball overseas.

Balance: Either you’ve got it or you don’t

by Will Hughes, BA, NSCA-CPT

While standing, hold your arms out to your side, shift all of your body weight on to one leg, and lift the other leg off the ground. Can you balance without holding on to anything?  Can you move your arms or leg and still stay balanced?  How about can  you close your eyes and stay balanced?

Unless you do this type of activity on a regular basis, you may feel a little unstable or just plain awkward. In any event, your body’s ability to recognize this feeling and respond to it is called proprioception, also known as balance. Balance is essentially your body’s way of knowing where your body position is relative to your surroundings. In unstable surroundings your brain sends signals throughout the body so that you can make the necessary adjustments to remain stable. Commonly overlooked in most general fitness workouts, balance training is a good way to help reduce chance of injury and pain. Having a good sense of balance is also very important when it comes to exercise progressions.

What are we doing when we train our bodies? Most of us are familiar with the phrase “muscle memory”. Muscle memory is essentially your central and peripheral nervous system communicating and telling your body what’s going on around you. In regards to balance training you are training your central nervous system to send signals throughout your body as quickly as possible so that you feel stable in an unstable situation. Essentially we are focusing our attention on a particular area of training so that when we need to focus on other external forces in our sport or everyday lives we can spend as little time as possible thinking about that particular area. A football player has enough to think about during a game than to have to focus on whether or not he feels balanced enough to run, jump, change directions, or tackle another player. So the idea is to train your body to do something so that you don’t have to think about it later.  We’re looking for balance to become like second nature.

Here’s some simple progressions you can work on at home or in the gym:
1.  Standing on one leg
2.  Draw the alphabet in the air with your free leg
3.  Keep your arms to your side
4.  Add a weighted object that you can move from one hand to the other
5.  Add an unstable surface to stand on with a bosu ball or air max pad
6.  Close your eyes

Once you feel confident in your ability to maintain balance on one leg you could also incorporate balance training in other exercises as a progression in your workout to make them a little bit more difficult/challenging. Take a basic body weighted squat for example. Normally you would stand feet parallel, hip to shoulder width apart, and squat. Now try a single leg squat (split squat or stationary lunge). Feet are now in a split stance with trail leg relatively straight behind you, and feet positioning is still hip to shoulder width apart. Now, keeping majority of your body weight on the front leg continue with your squat. There are even ways to progress further with your squat variations. You can elevate the trail foot, do a walking lunge, do step-ups, or use an unstable surface such as a bosu ball or air max pads.

At Prevail Conditioning Performance Center, we work on balance and proprioception everyday with our clients. 

William has been in the Santa Barbara area since 2002. Originally from Indianapolis, IN William received his B.A. in Mathematics from Earlham College in Richmond, IN. He played 4 years of football at the Div III collegiate level as a wide receiver and 2 years of Track and Field running the 400m, 200m, 4x400m relay, 4x100m relay and triple jump.
William began his path with personal fitness in 2007 when he earned his Personal Training Certification through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.  He is currently striving to work more closely with athletes. He has worked with summer football camps and enjoys working with young athletes to help them direct their athletic development. As well as working with athletes, William also does private training for general fitness, and leads core conditioning group fitness classes.
For further question, contact Will:

Prevail Conditioning