Body By Design: 3 Steps to Optimize Your Workout


“Form focused” athletes and “Posture Perfect” gym goers always render greater benefits from their workouts. To improve your results at the gym, it is imperative to be mindful of your bodily alignment, or posture, while exercising. When the body is in proper alignment, and an exercise is performed with precision and proper form, the muscles are activated with greater efficiency and have a lesser threshold of fatigue. Improving your posture while exercising will not only instantly increase the results of your workout, it will also help you stay injury-free.

Most injuries in the gym are caused by improper posture and bad form. Unfortunately, many people learn their lifting techniques by seeing others in the gym or by watching video demonstrations online. Although the intentions are correct of learning new exercises to keep the body strong, it is imperative to learn proper form from a professional. It is equally important to have a Postural Specialist ensure that your body is in proper alignment before beginning a new workout regimen. If your body is misaligned before starting a new exercise program, your results will be stunted from the start.

Your posture follows you everywhere you go, even the gym. Next time you go to the gym, implement these three easy steps to improve the quality of your workout.

Low Risk Weight Training: Always be sure to choose weights that your body can handle. If it is too heavy and you break your form, your body will not receive full benefit from the exercise. Exercises that usually see the worst postures and most serious injuries are those that involve the lower body or the lower back. While performing these exercises (such as squats, deadlifts, and lunges), concentrate on lifting slower and with more control of the weight. Connect your mind on the move and be aware of your posture throughout all exercises. It is much more beneficial to lift lesser weights with perfect form than to break form with higher weights.

Be “Hard Core”: While performing each exercise, focus on having a strong contraction of your core musculature. When the core is engaged it supports the natural curvature of the lumbar spine. When the core is weak, you can see your belly pouch out, what is called a “flaccid belly.” While exercising, focus on contracting or pulling your navel towards your lumbar spine. You should be able to do this while breathing naturally. If this feels uncomfortable, it is a strong indication that your core muscles are weak, leaving the lumbar spine and the hips more susceptible to injury. Consult a Postural Specialist to learn how to properly strengthen your core musculature.

Put Your Posture to the Test: Have your workout partner check your posture before starting your workout. Challenge each other to maintain the correct posture throughout the entire workout.

  • When viewed from the side, an imaginary vertical line should pass through your earlobe, the tip of your shoulder, your hip, and then through both your knee and ankle. If there is any deviation of proper alignment, for example if your ears are in front of your shoulders or your shoulders roll forward toward your chest, you will be more susceptible to injury.  
  • When viewed from the front, check to see that the head is pointing forward (not rotated or laterally flexed to either side), the shoulders are the same height, and the knees and feet are pointed forward (not pointed outward or inward). With the arms hanging to the sides, check to see if the thumbs point forward or inward toward the body. If they point inward it is indication that the shoulders are rolled forward, pulling the body forward, affecting your posture and your ability to breathe properly during exercise.

Written By:
Dr. Krista Burns DC, DRHA, CPEP, CPS
Doctor of Chiropractic
Doctor of Health Administration
Certified Postural Specialist

Co-Founder American Posture Institute

 Posture by Design, Not by Circumstance


Dr. Krista Burns
Dr. Krista Burns, co-founder of the American Posture Institute, is dedicated to the development and expansion of the American Posture Institute as the number one recognized leader in postural correction and postural certification programs in the world. She graduated with honors as a Doctor of Chiropractic from the prestigious university Palmer College of Chiropractic. Passionate about furthering her education, she completed a Ph.D. in Health Administration with an emphasis in Health Policy. To further her clinical expertise she completed certifications as a Certified Postural Specialist, Certified Posture Exercise Professional, and a Specialist in Functional Chiropractic Neurology. She is an inspiring public speaker and has been a featured presenter at forums such as the International Functional Medicine Conference in Italy and the Women’s Leadership Summit in the United States. Dr. Burns is a published author and researcher in the field of health and wellness. As a recognized health expert, she has been featured on Sport Magazine televised program, CYOU TV live radio program, and as a contributing author to L’Accademia del Fitness national health magazine. She is also the founder and President of the League of Chiropractic Women-Europe, an organization dedicated to the advancement of women in the chiropractic profession. In addition to her esteemed professional accomplishments, she has always had a love for fitness. As a teenager she was a competitive member of the United States Freestyle Development Ski Team, and a qualifier for the US National Championships and North American Competition skiing circuit. Her love for sports continues, as she is currently a recognized fitness competitor for the International Federation of Bodybuilders. She was a top finisher in the Northern Italian Championships, qualifying her for her top 10th finish in the Italian National Championships as a Bikini competitor. Dr. Burns has a passion for all things “health.” She lives the advice she gives. Her superior personal work ethic is demonstrated by her continuous devotion to academics, her admired professional accomplishments, her role as a woman leader in the chiropractic profession, and her successes as a professional athlete.