You won’t go far without good posture
Well, that’s an overstatement! Or, is it? The most severe problem there can be a result of having problems with your posture are serious injuries that may affect your spine (like discopathy) or tendons (like rotator cuff’s contusion). And well, one thing is certain, having a “bad” posture is not healthy for your muscles, and – while not necessarily cause you pain – might make them weaker, hence might make your workout goals hard to achieve. So, let’s take a look at some issues concerning proper posture and see what the good posture exercises that may help you fix problems with it are.
What is a good posture anyway?
We all know what good posture is, right? Back straight, head high, shoulders down. Great, but here’s the thing. It’d be more effective if you look carefully at what you do all day and try to catch moments, when your posture may unnecessarily stress some parts of your body or prevent the others from working as they should do. Why is it so important? During the workout, you try to do every exercise the way it’s supposed to be done. So, you train your muscles for – how long: an hour or two each day? And what about the rest of the time? All this talk about how to get better posture is trying to make you treat your body properly all day. Even little things can improve your workout progress – keeping correct posture may prevent injuries during exercises, help strengthen your spine and so on. OK, let’s go for some details now. How to correct posture when you have a sitting job? Here’s what you can do:
- Plant your feet evenly on the ground. It may sound simple, but when you are sitting for an hour straight or more it is hard not to curl your feet behind chair legs or put one leg or another, right? Well, try anyway.
- Untuck your tailbone and allow your spine to rest on top of your pelvis.
- Gently push yourself off your chair making yourself taller
- Do not force your shoulders down, try rolling them back gently instead
- Relax your face and jaw, let your ribcage slide down a bit (imagine that you have a pole in the centre of your body with ribcage around it)
- Pay attention to your wrists: they shouldn’t be bent while you’re working on a computer. That way you’ll prevent them some irrevocable wrist’s degeneration.
Yes, that’s it. When you’re sitting that way, you cause the least damage to your body. And of course, by all means, take a break or two, stretch yourself a bit – it all helps, but maintaining a proper posture during sitting is the key here.
Good posture exercises
When you want to know how to get a proper posture, first of all, there are some tests you can undergo to see whether there are some problems with your posture or not. Keep in mind that the tips from this article can still be helpful, even if you’ll pass all the tests – you can treat it as a prevention. So, if you want to test yourself, lay down on your back with your knees bent. Put your arms in the “arrest” position. And now: you should be able to put your wrists on the floor and at the same time press your ribcage to the floor so as there won’t be space underneath it. It’s worth checking out!
OK, but are there some exercises strictly connected with the posture? Of course, there are! Here are some posture exercises you can do anytime:
- Wall angel: stand near the wall with your heels and the back of your head touching it. Put your arms up in the “arrest” position, with straightened wrists and back of the hands touching the wall (forearms and wrists should make contact with it as well, all the time during the exercise). Start raising your arms and lowering them down, keeping the position and touching the wall all the time. When your arms are down, you should feel your shoulder blades pinched together. Do about 25 reps. This exercise put some rarely used back muscles to work.
- Air wings: still with your back against the wall put your arms straight in 45 degrees down, palms facing towards the floor. Start flapping your air wings up and down, don’t touch the wall with your arms and keep it straight.
- Then you can start to cover your ears with both hands at the same time and after some reps imagine climbing a rope: put your tightened fist up to the air and then slowly lower it down, then do the same with another hand.
Feel you need to know more how to correct your posture? You can also do more advanced exercises using a roller as a fulcrum for back stretching.
Dealing with proper posture issue one often finds out that all would be easier if not for the back problems. A reminder: if you’re experiencing some persistent discomfort in your back, it’d be better to contact a specialist. That said, first we should see how the back is built. We have four basic regions: neck (7 Cervical vertebrae), upper and mid back (12 Thoracic vertebrae), low back (5 Lumbar vertebrae) and sacrum (between low back and tailbone) out of which the most problematic are thoracic spine and lumber spine. The thoracic spine helps us with twists, bends and turns, whether lumber spine is responsible for forward bending and backward bending, in other words, flexion and extension.
There are many things that may not work properly in your back, but we may distinguish three main groups of problems:
- Mobility limitations: it means tightness in your back and problems with extension. It’s caused mainly by… that’s right – lots of sitting. That is why it’s so important to focus on exercises to improve posture.
- Strength limitations: yet another disadvantage of rounded back posture – it may cause you trouble with building strength in the back. Sitting and slumping makes some of the muscles between and surrounding your shoulder blades weak. That may stop you from excelling in some exercises and with tome even from performing some of the activities you want to do. That’s where bodyweight leverage exercises come in handy – they will help you improve and maintain your back muscles strong.
- Pain: it is difficult to say for sure what’s causing specific back pain in an individual, that’s why when you have some discomfort and pain in your back try some of helping routines described below. It should also be stressed that when you’re experiencing pain in your back after your workout, especially when you’re doing squats, in most cases it means that you’re not doing the exercise as it should be done. You can always look for details in other articles and work at your proper exercise form, that may fix your problem sooner than you think.
Some helping routines
So, when talking about preventing back pain or exercises to improve body posture, we have to cover the spine, but also hips and shoulders as it all are connected.
- Back stretches
- Lay down on your back and then prop yourself up on your forearms, placing your hands at a comfortable distance. Push your chest toward the ceiling and squeeze your shoulder blades together. If you feel that you strain your lower back, put your hands forward as the motion should be happening mostly in your upper and mid back. With time you can straighten your elbows to extend your back further. Move in and out of stretch ten times, then hold for half a minute. Do three sets of this exercise.
- Hands and knees on the floor, knees together and past your hips. Lift your feet off the ground and sweep them right and left. Keep your back flat at the movement.
- Hands and knees on the floor. Elbows directly below shoulders and knees beneath your hips. Shift one forearm and place it directly below the midline of your chest. Place the other hand on your low back. Rotate your body toward that elbow and look up as you do so. Pressing down with the other elbow will keep your body stable.
- Flexibility (forward and back bending)
- In a deep squat position move your hands to the left and place them perpendicularly to your feet (try to have a foot between your legs). Stand up trying to keep the hands on the ground. Push your body up as much as you can, when you feel the resistance – go back down. Then switch sides.
- Sit with your legs straight. Pick a side and fold diagonal (45 degrees) on that side. Extend your chest forward, do not work only with your arms. After that fold straight towards your toes. Hold for a moment and look up.
- In kneeling position push your hips forward and lift your chest up and back.
- Lunge stretch with rotation to the side of the front knee. You can put the knee as far as you can while keeping your balance.
- Hip and shoulder mobility
- Lie on your back with knees bent. Put one ankle on the opposite knee. Start rotation your hip in and out. Then do the hold by pressing into your knee.
- Sit up with your feet together, moving the knees down toward the ground. With your hand, press into the ground and move your hips closer to your heels. You can also start this exercise by sitting with your legs straight in front of you. Place your hands behind you and push with them so as your hips start moving towards your feet.
- Start with a kneeling position with your feet under your butt. Lift your hips and at the same time raise your arms overhead. After some reps, when you’re in that position, you can lower down one arm and reach the other one to the opposite side.
And of course – if you realize that your posture problems might be severe and there are lots of muscle imbalances in your body, please consult a specialist who’ll check this all out and advice you about therapy.