There’s never been a better time to be a physiotherapist, chiropractor or an osteopath. This is largely due to both our work life, as well as our social (media) life. Being in front of, or more accurately, slouched over, a device has led to a pandemic of poor posture.
So if your work week is wreaking havoc on your back, here are our top 10 exercises for better posture!
The slouch has become the new norm, and most people don’t even realise they’re doing it. If you want to do a free 5-second test to see how far out of alignment you are then head to your nearest wall and do the ‘Wall Stand’.
1st. Stand tall against the wall with your heels, bum, shoulder blades and head touching the wall while keeping your neck long and chin tucked – Check out the image and mimic the guy with the green tick.
2nd. While maintaining this alignment go for a walk. The stranger this feels the more out of alignment you are.
3rd. The exercises and more importantly the habits outlined below will help prevent years of pain and postural dysfunctions developing.
The following hints, habits and exercises all have multiple benefits, I don’t expect you to do them all (although that would be awesome!), just choose the ones that give you the most bang for your buck!
1. Think Tall
Now that you know what good posture actually feels like, do this 5-second wall check more often, and then stand, walk and sit tall. To help with this imagine a string pulling you up from the top of your head, to reinforce this good posture also engage your pelvic floor muscles, this will not only improve your posture but has the added advantages of: Taking pressure off your lower back, gives you a smaller waistline and means you won’t be needing a nappy the next time you crack up laughing.
2. Hold your phone at eye-level
I’d never ask you to stop using your phone altogether (although I might ‘suggest’ you use it less). But when you absolutely have to use it hold it up to eye-level instead of looking down. This will help prevent your discs bulging backwards and your last 3 fingers from tingling or going numb. This 1 habit can literally prevent months of physio, pain and potential surgery.
3. Drive Straight
The 3rd life-enhancing habit is the way you set up your car seat. Most people have the seat reclined too far backwards and then compensate by putting their head forward into a posture appropriately titled ‘Forward Head Posture’. By putting your seat more upright (even better if you can place a rolled up towel behind your lower back) the back of your head won’t be so far from the head rest. In fact a great tip is every traffic light to retract your head (the technical name for making a double chin) into the headrest which strengthens the back of your neck.
Now that you know how to assess your posture, and which habits to change, here are 7 exercises and stretches that will improve everybody’s posture.
1. Cobra Stretch
This is here because it literally reverses a hunchback, remember to look up towards the ceiling to stretch the front of your neck.
2. Downward Dog Pose
This famous yoga pose stretches out your: Back & chest muscles (which are 2 muscle groups that round your shoulders) as well as hamstrings & calf muscles which is where most people feel it.
3. Child’s Pose
Everyone’s favourite relaxation position – When done with a little effort really stretches out your upper and lower back as well as lengthening your spine – Aaahhhh….
4. Scapula Push Ups
This exercise makes the hot list as it requires core strength (Always good for posture) as well as mobilising your upper spine just like the Cat/Cow yoga move.
5. Plank with External Rotation
I made this exercise up because it works your deep core muscles as well as most of your glute muscles too! And when you have a strong set of glutes this is the perfect platform for a supported spine.
6. Cobra Exercise
You’ve done the stretch, now for the exercise. As you build up your muscular-endurance in your back muscles good posture becomes your new norm. Hold it for as long as you can and build up a little more everyday, the ultimate goal is to hold it for 5 minutes straight.
7. Wall Slides
Bad posture is caused by poor thoracic mobility, stiff back & chest muscles, rounded shoulders and poor movement quality. Wall slides counteract ALL of those. So any time you’ve been sitting at your desk for too long hop up and get out 10 of these. Don’t feel bad if your forearms don’t slide against the wall at first, you’ll improve very quickly on this one.
So there you have our top 10 tips for better posture that come from the Guru’s of: Corrective Exercise, Yoga, Strength Coaches and Industry Experts. For more, check out this blog – https://blog.12wbt.com/fitness/easy-exercises-improve-posture/
12WBT, your one-stop shop to all things, health, fitness and better living!