Standing Tall With Posture Exercises
Good posture affects more than your appearance. Over time, certain muscle groups can grow weaker. Other muscle groups will become contracted and fibrotic; they will lose their actual ability to function as a muscle. Poor posture of the neck and shoulder region is an affliction of modern society and is the true source of many people’s neck and shoulder pain.
If you sit hunched over a keyboard for an entire workday, persistent neck and shoulder pain is soon to follow, which impacts your off-the-clock activities. If you have back pain, you’re less likely to do physical activities you may enjoy, such as walks, going for a jog, or riding a bike. This can snowball into an unhealthy lifestyle that is difficult to overcome. To avoid this, you should incorporate some easy, at-home posture exercises to ensure your long-term mobility and wellness:
This simple yoga pose is great for lengthening your spine and is restful enough that you can do it as you’re waking up – even before you get out of bed. Start out kneeling, then sink your hips down towards your feet. If your thighs don’t touch your calves, you can use a pillow or rolled up blanket to support yourself. If your stomach is blocked by your kneeling legs, then spread the legs wider and allow the stomach to drop down to the floor/bed. Stretch your hands out in front of you and let your head hang between your shoulders. Make a conscious effort to relax your shoulder back, away from your ears, and hold the pose as long as it feels comfortable. Breath in and out carefully and mindfully.
Once you’re done with Child’s Pose, roll up onto your hands and knees. On an inhale, drop your chest and abdomen down, creating a gentle curve in your spine, and look slightly up. On an exhale, draw your abdomen up so your back mimics a “Halloween cat” pose. Do this movement for a minute or two, following the natural cadence of your breath.
Stand on a firm surface with your feet hip distance apart. Gently bring your hands behind you, palms facing each other, and interlock your fingers. Breathe in, and roll your shoulders back as you do it, pushing your hands towards the floor, gently and intentionally pushing your chest forward and leaning your head back slightly. Hold this pose for a few breaths, then relax. Repeat 5-10 times. Be mindful of the position of your head and neck during this exercise. Make sure the shoulder blades are moving together to the center of the body.
Lie on your back with your hands on your temples. It’s important to not place your hands behind your head, as you could pull on your head, making your head and neck posture worse. Draw your knees up towards your chest while lifting your chest off the floor along with head and neck. Only your low back should be in contact with the floor. If you feel stable in this position, you can extend one leg out at a time in a “bicycle” like movement. This exercise will engage your core and make your back muscles stronger as well.
At the core of good posture is… well, your core. Strong abdominal muscles are key to maintaining good posture. Do exercises like planks (you can adapt into a kneeling plank if you have to,) gentle sit ups, and heel raises to engage your core and lower body alike. This helps you walk with good posture. Simply working on deep breathing and focusing on the movements of your ribs and pelvis can actually improve core strength as well.
Be sure to check in with your doctor or a physical therapist before attempting a new exercise regimen. It’s good to pick one exercise to practice and master over the course of 2+ weeks instead of trying to devote an hour to multiple different exercises a day. You’ll be able to form a more long-lasting habit of daily posture-improving exercises if you start slowly and build up your exercise regimen over time.
Choose Warner Orthopedics & Wellness for an integrative approach that is centered on promoting your overall wellness – both inside the clinic and at home.