By Kevin Witham, BSc(Hons), MDipFTST, DipIIST, NLP(Prac)

Nothing annoys me more than watching over the years countless of people exercising with very poor technique. This is so common that it astounds me as it seems few people even though they are exercising actually care about their bodies. Training in poor posture can seriously increase your risk of injury, you wont get the full benefits from your exercise routine which inevitably leads to demotivation and a reduction in exercise so often seen after the post Christmas rush.

I appreciate that many people are not aware of what correct posture is and what further causes me to become very cross is the lack of good staff at most gyms willing to talk and coach their clients. Even many personal trainers I find pay little attention to their clients posture whilst training infact, they seem to pay little attention full stop to their clients and expect to get paid good money for this poor advice- many unfortunately are poorly qualified but that's another story, lets get back to the issue of posture.

Whilst exercising the back should be in a position which is referred to as Neutral. This is where the four curves of the spine line up correctly and places the back in its strongest position, its best shock absorption position- a must considering the stresses that some exercises place upon the body. The back is designed like all muscles to be worked but it needs to be worked in the correct alignment so that the muscles work effectively. Most peoples back aches and pains are due to poor posture often made worse by sitting all day at work and then at home.

In conjunction with testing and strengthening the core muscles, another must in programme design, most back problems can be sorted out- it is not something you are born to have!

If we can ensure that the body's alignment is correct then the whole workout will be much more effective and safer for less time spent on it! Work smart is the key especially for those who find exercising a chore. You will also feel a lot more upright and even confident.

How do you know where neutral spine is- ensure you trainer is competent enough to test you and then caring enough to be checking your posture throughout your workout which you are paying for. However, here is a quick check you can do at home. Place yourself against a straight wall with your feet slightly forward and head also back against the wall. Get yourself in to a relaxed position. Take a hand and see if you can place it in to the small of your back. You should be able to get your hand only as far as the knuckles. Any more or less is an indication that your pelvis is not aligned properly which inevitably means your back as both are attached. In other words a neutral spine is also a neutral pelvis.

This test can also be performed laying on the floor if you wish with your legs flat. Once you learn where the correct position of your back should be you will achieve much better and safer workouts. Failure to train in the correct position will increase your risk of injury and gives exercise a bad name.

You must ensure that you have a postural analysis carried out on you before you exercise. This is an absolute must for safe and effective programme design.