I often find myself looking at people’s posture, analyzing what muscles are short and tight and long and weak. It is something ingrained in me being a personal trainer and group fitness instructor for over 30 years. Last night I was observing one of my husband’s Ju-Jitsu buddies and noticed his palms were facing backward like in the image above, indicating tight pecs (chest muscles) and most likely long weak upper back muscles needed to help lift the chest and bring the ear over the shoulder. This often happens to most of us after having children, working at a desk all day, watching TV, driving etc. We tend to sink into poor posture more often than we think doing little to get us out of that position.
3 Reasons You Need To Work on Your Posture
- Poor posture colapses the rub cage making it harder to expand the lungs and breath. Oxygen is life, so when we reduce our ability to breath well we decease our immune system and open ourselves up to dis-ease, disease.
- Rounded shoulders and a forward head that weight about 12-15 pounds places a lot of stress on the neck and upper back. This can also cause issues in the spine where the discs start to bulge creating muscle and nerve pain as well as shoulde pain.
- The same forward head also pull on the lower back creating low back pain as well.
All this from tight pecs you ask? Yes. Tight pecs create a rounding in the upper spine which leads to weak postural muscles.
One super important exercise that helps strengthen those back muscles is the prone cobra. This coupled with some other amazing postural stretches and exercises can help you bring the body back into a state of balance.
- Lie on your stomach and extend upward, rotating your palms out and squeezing your shoulder blades together as in figure 2. Make sure that the shoulders are externally rotated, not internally rotated.
- Squeeze your buttocks and keep your feet on the floor.
- Hold without extending your head back, chin slightly tucked, to lengthen through the back of the neck.
- The goal is to hold this exercise for 3 minutes. Slowly work your way up by holding as long as you can, then resting for half the time you held, i.e. 30/15.
Tempo: Hold as long as you can and rest 1/2 the time
Intensity: -5 seconds (stop when you can hold for 5 more seconds with good form)
Rest: 60-90 sec.
This exercises teaches your neck and back muscles how to work to hold your body in good posture. In addition, it helps to decrease forward head while working the thoracic and neck extensors.