When it comes to living a pain free active life we are often told that having correct posture is a large piece of the puzzle. Correct posture will sometimes change slightly for everyone depending on various factors.
In the broader sense, having good posture basically means the body’s is in the correct alignment so that the joints and soft tissue do not have any extra pressure and the body can function efficiently without any excess stress placed where it shouldn’t be. Having correct posture and efficient balanced movement patterns can help reduce the risk of pain and injury and attribute to a long healthy life.
Here are some areas that are crucial for correct posture and some exercises to help correct imbalances!
Spine Mobility - Cat/Cow
Start on all 4’s with the knees under the hips and the wrist elbow and should stacked so the back is flat like a tabletop. This movement in divided into two parts that involve flexion and extension of the spine. Cat – Look down between your legs and flex the spine as much as possible.
Imagine someone is trying to push your sternum up to the sky as you arch this will add to the upper back stretch. Cow – Look up and try to tilt the pelvis and try and arch the spine pushing hard into the ground to try and extend the upper spine as much as possible. Try to breathe and push into these positions more every rep. Repeat 10-15 times.
Neck Flexor Strength – Chin Tucks
Lay on your back on a mat. Bring feet flat and knees at 90 degrees. Low back should be flat on the ground. Look back as much as possible with the head stretching the front of the neck. While looking back push head into ground and while keeping head pushed into the ground try to tuck your chin in to make a double chin.
This motion will feel as if your trying to dig a hole in the ground with your head and you will feel your neck muscles working as you make your double chin relax and look back again. Repeat 10-15 times.
Upper Back Strength - Banded Two Part Row
Grab a band or cable with two handles. This could also be done on the seated row machine. While either sitting or standing grab both of the handles with arms straight and allow should blades to protract (slide forward) as much as possible to feel an upper back stretch. Part one of the row is to pull the shoulder blades back and down keeling the arms straight.
During the second part of the row as the should blades are pulled back and down row the arm down and back thinking about pulling from the elbow. At the end position the elbow, forearm, wrist, hand and the cable/band should be in one straight line. Hold and squeeze for a second or two between each rep then simply slowly reverse the movement allowing arms to straighten and shoulder blades to protract. Repeat 10-15 times.
These drills can be done a few times a week at the end of a workout or at the beginning for a warm-up. If done correctly they can help fight against the imbalances and bad positions that our society puts us in and help improve posture and quality of life.
These exercises along with others are a piece of the puzzle to better posture. Correct stretching, self-myofacial release, proper movement patterns and a balanced workout program can also attribute to correct posture and having correct posture is one of the keys of living a pain free life.