Our posture pretty much sucks these days.
This isn’t about propriety or your grandma yelling “stop slouching!”
This is about your quality of life, because in our modern era poor posture doesn’t just mean a bit of shoulder tension or slightly forward rotated shoulders – it means PAIN, and lots of it.
While smart phones were a genius invention, our insatiable appetite for constant engagement means we’re hunched over our phones all day every day. (I mean, I even see people crossing the street or riding their bike while cranking their heads down to stare at their phones!)
All this hunching over and bending our necks puts the equivalent of a 60 POUND WEIGHT on our cervical spine!
Over time this creates a nightmarish domino effect of pain, because an unhealthy cervical spine can lead to serious neck pain, shoulder issues; mid back pain; low back pain, elbow tendonitis or wrist issues, not to mention grip issues from lack of nerve ennervation to the hands due to fascial blocks created in the scalene area of our neck.
The THREE “R’s” of better posture:
- Release the overworked, over-tight areas.
- Restore muscle memory and neural pathways of good posture.
- Reinforce the muscle memory and neural pathway of good posture by strengthening the weak/overstretched muscles in your mid/upper back.
One of the reasons our neck and shoulders and mid back hurt so much is because all the soft tissue (muscle and fascia) in the upper front of our bodies has been shortened, tightened and is getting adhesed to our (front) ribs, humerus (upper arm bone) and shoulder joint.
This causes forward rotated shoulders, and even when we’re not slouching or hunched over a phone that tissue is still tight…and it’s pulling on our cervical spine, our uppper trap muscles are being pulled forward towards our chest and the mid back starts to feel pretty vulnerable because all the muscles back there are getting weaker and over-stretched.
My top pick for ONE thing to release for fascia and muscles is your CHEST or pecs.
Click here for the chest release and PNF stretch.
Use the fascial release AND the PNF stretch in the above post/video and you’ll be doing your body a world of good! If you don’t have a lacrosse ball, the wall stretch is an AWESOME 30 second fix for all of you that sit at desks all day.
If you want to do MORE to improve your posture, click here for my biceps release.
I hope it’s obvious that we can’t just release a few things and expect to have good posture for life!
All those muscles that used to work well for us when we had decent posture have forgotten their main job. I see this ALL the time (including in my own body): the back muscles that hold our posture in a healthy position are getting weaker and weaker while the overworked muscles from our other activities and habits learn to take over – the upper traps, biceps and chest.
Restoring those healthy neural patterns can be as simple as remembering – as often as possible throughout your day – to take a moment and pull your shoulders back and down while sitting or standing tall. That’s it!
You can do the wall exercise in the video anywhere as an excellent jump-start and good posture reminder, but even if all you do is activate those muscles with good spinal posture throughout your day when you think of it, you’ll be light years ahead of most people!
If you want these changes to LAST, and if you want to create proper muscle distribution between your front and back in such a way that you counteract any “bad” habits you still have, then you have to get your back muscles activated and stronger.
In particular, most of us could benefit greatly from strengthening our rhomboids.
There are a BUNCH of variations on rhomboid exercises, from using kettlebells to the TRX to weights, machines, cables and bands.
The best simple gym exercise to target your rhomboids is the LOW ROW.
I’m not a personal trainer and I don’t claim authority in this area (at least not right now), but I CAN tell you from personal experience as someone who has been working out in a gym with and without trainers for 2 decades that the low row is a GREAT option for beginners and you almost can’t go wrong.
PLEASE WATCH THE VIDEO!
I may do another post on this with better picture graphics on the workout portion, but for now I mostly wanted to inspire you to do some research and experimenting on the “low row” and how to do them correctly…and I’m leaving you free to decide which option to go with depending on gym access or equipment and personal preferences.
If you know your way around a gym, or if you have a trainer, then feel free to do this your way or make it more complex and dynamic. Just make sure you’re not shrugging and using your traps!
Whenever possible, try putting your phone in front of your face instead of holding in your hands and forcing your head to tilt down to see it. This will dramatically help your cervical spine from damage due to the weight that position puts on the entire spine!