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This week we will go over some simple postural exercises you can do to improve your posture. Certain areas of the body are particulary important with regards to upright posture. The following postural exercises will help address those key areas.
Postural exercises for upright posture:
Take a moment, place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen, and just breathe naturally. Where is the movement occurring? Is it mostly into your chest or into your abdomen? For many people the normal pattern of ‘abdominal’ breathing has been substituted for a ‘chest’ breathing pattern. Breathing in this way overloads the muscles of the neck and shoulders and is a very common contributor to excess tightness and faulty posture.
- Set up as shown with your forehead resting on the floor (if your head doesn’t reach the floor comfortably place a small cushion underneath).
- Lengthen the spine. Imagine someone is pulling your head forwards whilst holding your hips in place. Let the shoulders widen.
- Relax your stomach and concentrate on breathing down into the sides of the lower ribs and abdomen.
- You should feel the lower ribs widen and the abdomen expand gently into the thighs. You shouldn’t feel your neck and shoulders move or tighten.
- Hold this position for 1- 2 minutes.
- Try and reproduce this pattern of breathing during the other exercises and throughout the day.
Sitting in a slumped position leads to stiffness and tightness in the mid-back and over time results in an inability to fully straighten the mid-back and achieve a fully upright posture. This will impact neck, shoulder and low-back pains.
- Kneel on the floor with hips in line with your knees and forearms on a chair.
- First, round your back up and breathe in.
- Then, as you breathe out, let it fall towards the floor in an arch shape.
- You should `feel’ this in your mid-back especially when you let your back fall to the floor.
- Make sure your arms are not too straight or pushing into the chair.
- Repeat 8-12 times, twice day.
Having the legs flexed at the waist for long periods can result in tightness/ shortening through the muscles at the front of the hip (the hip flexors). Shortening in the hip flexors can cause an ‘over-arching’ of the low back altering posture and increasing the risk for low back pain.
- Place your front leg on a sturdy step or table. (Make sure you have a wall close by if balance is an issue).
- Tilt your pelvis backwards so your back flattens and you start to feel a slight pull in the front of your rear thigh.
- Gently push your hips forwards to increase the stretch. The movement should be through the hip not the back – DO NOT over-arch the low back.
- Hold for 30-60 sec each side.
- You should feel this stretch in the front of the hip/ thigh on the back leg, not the low back.
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Images and References
- McGill, S. (2007). Low back disorders: evidence-based prevention and rehabilitation. Human Kinetics
Liebenson. C., Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies
This post was written by Steffen Toates. Steffen is a chiropractor at Dynamic Health Chiropractic in Jersey, Channel Islands. For more infomation about Steffen click here.