Exercises & stretches that will improve your posture (part 1)
As a kid, I had extremely bad posture. I would slouch in my seat, slump over my guitar and generally resembled the hunchback of Notre Dame. Unfortunately, poor posture can contribute to long-term health issues like back pain and it can also have a negative effect on your emotional well-being and self-esteem. Today I am happy to share some of the exercises and stretches that helped me improve my posture immensely. I'll be doing a number of posts on this topic so be sure to look out for part two in the coming days.
As a precursor, anyone reading this post who is not following a balanced exercise routine should put that on the top of their to-do list. I would also highly recommend chiropractic adjustment, although the effectiveness varies from person to person.
#1 Foam Rolling
Foam rolling is a massage technique that can improve your spine mobility and correct rounded shoulders. Foam rollers are inexpensive and can be purchased from eBay or physical stores such as Kmart, for as little as $10.
Lay the foam roller across the spine in the middle of your back right below your shoulder blades. As seen in the image above, your knees should be bent, feet firmly planted on the ground, and hands comfortably behind your head. Lift your hips off the ground, tighten your abs and slowly roll forward so the foam roller travels down your back, towards your neck, then reverse so that you end up back where you started. Repeat this movement 10 times for a total of 3 to 4 sets. If you feel any areas of stiffness, roll back and forth on top of the area for a few seconds. If you hear a cracking sound, don't worry, this is completely normal. According to "The Chiropractor's Self-Help Back and Body Book," by Samuel Homola, when there is a binding or locking in a spinal joint, a cracking sound may occur when the joint is suddenly loosened through stretching or manipulation. The crack you hear is the sound of gases escaping the protective fluid barriers surrounding the joint. If you experience some pain and discomfort the first few times you complete this exercise, start slow and progress at a pace you are comfortable with. Given enough time and practice, you should see improvements in your upper back mobility.
# 2 Chest stretch
Facing the corner of a wall, extend your right arm and put your hand against the side of the wall. Turn your body left and lean forward as you feel the stretch in your chest and shoulder. Be sure to keep your arm in line with the plane of your shoulder as you complete the stretch. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and complete on both sides for 3 sets. The looseness and strength of your chest plays a role in how much you slouch, your goal should be to increase flexibility and strength of this muscle.
#3 The Superman Stretch
Turn your thumbs toward the ceiling. Squeeze your glutes, contract your core, and lift your arms, head, and legs about 4 inches off the ground. Hold this position for 2 seconds, then lower your limbs back down to the floor. You should aim to do 10-15 repetitions for 3 sets.
These exercises can be done every day, or every other day. As long as you do it with some consistency, you will improve your posture. Always be patient with yourself and treat it as a work in progress. Leave me a comment if this post has been helpful and check back tomorrow for part 2!