At first glance this seems like a Health Post – but if you’re not healthy you can’t improve your fitness. It’s a bit like people dividing their body up into body parts thinking that this is the best way to hit certain muscle groups they deem weaker…but in fact we should be viewing the body as one unit, rather than seeing it as many different units we will gain a far effective approach. Now I’m taking a direct physical approach when I say this, not the metaphysical view…
If you’ve ever given yourself the time to view people as the go about shopping or their daily routines you will see that many people take the shape of their predominant posture – even young people…the seated position, even when they are standing or walking. This posture is more pronounced with some people as compared with others as they display a head that pokes forwards and rounded upper back and shoulders. You will be amazed at how many people display this posture when you look! I remember clearly my mother telling us children that we should get our shoulders back and look straight ahead when we were young in an effort to improve our posture but this won’t help unless you add to your routine the two exercises described below.
If you look at the picture below it depicts someone with a pronounced rounded shoulder/poking head posture I’m talking about. It goes further to show where the problem lies. What it doesn’t show you is the cause of the problem and the associated pain people suffer from having such a posture. The cause is sitting in a slouched posture and not getting up and moving around throughout the day. This is also the cause of some arthritic conditions as people age.
To improve your posture you must move regularly throughout your day. It is that simple. But to ensure that you do not develop a rounded posture there are two exercises that I’ve found that are most effective in improving people’s posture because they stretch the tight muscles and strengthen the weaker muscles at the same time.
1. Is the exercise shown at the beginning of the post but I would add to this by getting people to lift their arms straight out to their sides as they move into the top position and rotate their hands forwards. (See an example of doing a version this exercise on a Fitness Ball below to see what I mean as this explanation is a bit unclear). Doing the exercise this way ensures that you activate the appropriate muscles correctly. Do 8 – 10 repetitions of this exercise holding the top position for at least a few seconds to start with and build up to 10-second holds after you have got used to it. You can do the version on the Fitness Ball if you feel more comfortable doing it this way or do it as an alternate way.
2. The second exercise is doing the same movement with your body but instead bend the arms at the elbows and concentrate on squeezing your shoulder blades together and leading with your elbows bring your arms closer to your bottom. Doing it this way activates all the muscles in between your shoulder blades and along your middle spine. (See photo below) You don’t need to lift your feet off the ground as depicted in the photo as this can put strain on your lower back…particularly if you have lower back problems! Do 10 repetitions holding the top position for least a few seconds and build up to 10-second holds, same as the first exercise.
There are other exercises that will help you develop an effective and natural posture and I have put examples below but the first two exercises are more effective if you see that you are starting to display a rounded posture. If you wish to test yourself for this stand with your back up against a doorframe. Place your heels up against the doorframe and your bottom, upper back and the back of your head should touch the doorframe without having to force yourself into this position…it should feel natural.