Over time, chronic hunching or slouching can lead to a ton of problems over and above tight muscles and a rounded back.
Chronic poor posture – which many of us are dealing with thanks to desk jobs and driving – can lead to structural changes in your spine, which cause abnormal wear and tear on the joint surfaces, which can lead to arthritis or degenerative disc disease.
If that slippery slope of despair isn’t enough to scare you, poor posture can also cause blood vessel constriction, digestive issues, headaches, and even depression.
Reversing poor posture starts with awareness, and correcting alignment when you notice slouching or hunching. Do this by pulling the shoulders down and back, followed by pulling the head back so it is in-line with the shoulders. We call this the chin tuck and it is the first of three easy, no-equipment exercises to improve your posture.
3 EASY EXERCISES FOR BETTER POSTURE:
1. Chin tuck. Sitting or standing, elongate your spine by imagining you are lifting the top of your skull to the sky. Tuck your chin back without tilting the head, until your head is in line with your shoulders. Tip: this exercise can be especially useful in the car while driving, use the headrest as a guide for optimal positioning.
2. The 'I-T-W'. Lying on your stomach, bring your arms straight out to an overhead position (or an “I” position) and lift them off the floor. From there float the arms straight out to the side (or a “T” position), followed by shifting the elbows back creating a “W” position with the arms. Return to the original “I” position and repeat. Tip: do this with palms facing the floor or with thumbs pointing up to the ceiling, make sure you are lifting the arms with the upper back and NOT the lower back.
3. Wall Slides. Stand tall with your upper back, glutes, and head contacting the wall. Bring your arms up on the wall starting in a “W” position. Slowly lift the arms up to an “I” position overhead, trying to keep elbows and wrists contacting the wall. Return to starting position and repeat. Tip: If this is too challenging, bring arms out to a “Y” position instead of an “I”.
The goal of any postural exercise is to strengthen your back while lengthening your chest. Therefore, to get the most bang for your buck, do these exercises in combination with stretches for the chest.
Looking for a personalized exercise program? Contact us today for a free assessment, anywhere in Toronto!
Poul Nielsen is the owner and operator of Nielsen Fitness, Toronto's leading team of in-home personal trainers. He has 18 years' experience in the fitness industry and has taught courses in Fitness and Lifestyle Management at George Brown College.
In addition to exercise (obviously), he loves spending time with his family, playing the guitar, strong coffee - and dark chocolate!