Sometimes what lies within us is strength and courage. Other times there is stress, tension, and anxiety. Stress, tension, inflammation, and just plain life can cause aches and pains that really wear down our body and body systems. At times these pains can manifest into an array of symptoms. Neck pain, back pain, shoulder pain, and posture issues.
Today I would like us to try some easy at home tips to work into your day to help improve our posture!
One of the best things that you can do today to help improve your body’s posture is to work on core strength and stretching. Do not limit strengthening and stretching to the core alone, but to all areas of the body as well.
Areas of increased tightness include the hips, shoulder, and neck. If you pay special attention to these areas and maintain them, it’s possible that good posture will follow! I have found that simple body awareness is key. Check in often and notice if you have a forward head posture, are you slouching, slumping, aching? I find myself slumping while typing, driving, and just sitting on the couch…remember, ears over shoulders!
If it is possible, in the morning or evening, or post workout, carve out some additional time to do some stretching. If you find yourself puzzled over stretching or want something beyond the basics, below is a 4 minute yoga clip by Tara Stiles for Perfect Posture!
Strengthening exercises are also key in correcting poor posture. It is important to strengthen the mid trapezius and rhomboids, posterior deltoids, thoracic erector spinae, external rotator cuff muscles, and of course to work on scapular depression. Now what does all that fancy talk actually mean?! In a nut shell, stretch your back and strengthen your core! Be sure to focus in on your middle trapezius and rhomboids, which are responsible for holding your shoulders back. I definitely went through a phase where my mom was telling me to, stand up straight! I don’t think I ever really did stand tall until I developed some actual flexibility and core strength! And to be completely honest, that was just recently despite my daily fitness routine! Post pregnancy and c-section I was very concerned about my core and have worked very hard to develop it to be strong again! NO matter where you are at, this take time and consistency!
To work your Trapezius and Rhomboids perform Bent Over Rows: Grasp a barbell with a wider than shoulder-width overhand grip. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Lean forward from your hips until your body is inclined to around 80 degrees. Do not allow your lower back to round out; this may result in injury. Lead with your elbows and bend your arms to pull the bar into your chest. Hold this most contracted position for one to two seconds and then extend your arms to return to the starting position. Try to keep your wrists straight and your upper arms perpendicular to your torso when performing this exercise (Livestrong).
Here is a short video clip on scapular depression. Check it out! It’s so effective at improving posture and can be done anywhere! (Fit tip: Do it at your desk at work, in the car at a red light, or in the kitchen while making dinner. Work it in!
There are several factors that can affect poor posture. I am sure you can guess many of them! Working in hospitals or gyms, I have usually held jobs were I am walking quickly from point A to point B (or running!), or I have at least been on the move. If I sit for a couple of hours straight working on the computer, my neck and back really flare up. However, when I switched from an office chair to my exercise/stability ball, I am sitting up taller and feeling much better at the desk.
Jobs that require a lot of sitting or being hunched forward (think mechanics, dental hygenists, surgeons) and active jobs that require you to use your body as part of your work (think post man, Chicago Bear) are all jobs that are tough on our musculature and thus the spine.
This article focuses in on some specific exercises to help improve posture, and again they are quick and easy!
Take care of your core by working it out (your core is your abdominal wall, waist, and back muscles, and hip flexors). Stretch and strengthen those muscles several times a week.
Create body awareness of your posture and how you are “being” (are you all slumped over?)
And if you’re truly in chronic pain, please see your doctor or health care provider. There may be something more out there for you to help.
“Exercises to Help Posture.” LIVESTRONG.COM. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Nov. 2012. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/128939-exercises-posture/>.
“What Exercises Can You Do to Improve Posture?” LIVESTRONG.COM. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Nov. 2012. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/383655-what-exercises-can-you-do-to-improve-posture/?utm_source=undefined_R1>.