Hello! Welcome, or welcome back if you are new to this blog. I am happy you are here!
Today, we are going to be discussing posture, hunched shoulders and how to correct it. Why is it important to talk about this? Well, for several reasons. The most important reason you should know is that bad posture leads to back pain, or even worse- spinal dysfunction and joint degeneration. When we think about back pain, we typically imagine someone who is older than sixty but the truth is that neglecting our posture now can lead to back issues for anyone, regardless of age.
Bad posture and hunching your shoulders all day long can lead to the following…
- Tension headaches
- Pain in shoulders, neck and lower back
- Higher blood pressure
- Reduced function of lungs
- Lower energy
- Gastrointestinal pain and distress
- Sleep problems
- Endocrine dysfunction
Unfortunately, it is difficult to be mindful of posture especially now with many of us working remotely from home most of the day. Before the pandemic, I had a standing desk at my office which helped with hunching a lot. I work from home now and even though I have a monitor, I have to catch myself from hunching over my laptop several times a day.
When I am working, I remind myself to sit with my shoulders back. I used to tuck one leg under the other while I was working but my MT told me this was actually terrible for my hips and was causing strain, so I now I just sit with both of my feet planted on the ground. I try to keep my computer almost a full arms length away while I am typing. You can get a computer stand from Amazon which is great because not only does it reduce eye strain, but your computer remains at eye level so you do not have to hunch in to see what you are working on. Other tips I have include remember to take frequent breaks. In between calls, I go on walks, do some yoga, foam roll, try a Pilates workout or just get up and move around. If you need some exercises to do for back/shoulder relief, I highly recommend the moves below. I usually aim for twenty reps, repeated at least twice through. Without further ado, here we go!
Cat Cow is an amazing yoga posture, and if not for back/shoulder health, you should do it because it just feels so good! As shown in the GIF above, simply round out your shoulders and tuck your stomach in. When you release, push through your shoulders and round your neck up, breathing out. You can even roll your neck out a few times at the top of the motion for added benefit. Cat Cow is perfect for relieving stress in your neck, shoulders, and just getting settled with the body before a workout for example.
Bird Dog is one of my personal favorites! There are several variations you can try. In this GIF, I am raising one arm and the opposite leg twenty times each side. You can also alternate arm and leg which challenges your balance further. In addition, sometimes I tuck my arm in and tap it to my leg, which gets into your abs. Bird Dog is fabulous for relieving any pain in your lower back.
Back Bow lifts
Here is a lying back bow lift. My hands are on my head and I am lifting as high as comfortably possible. My legs are remaining on the ground, but you can choose to lift them as well to make it more challenging. This pose is going to help with flexibility in your back. It is not uncommon to neglect your back muscles and this pose targets this whole area.
Wheel or Bridge
Wheel pose is like the holy grail of hip openers. It is going to stretch your hip flexors (important for runners!), strengthen the back, and improve spine flexiblity. If you cannot do wheel yet, that is completely fine. Bridge pose makes for a great variation. Bridge pose will still strengthen your back and glutes, while stretching the neck.
Leaning palm up lifts
This is a move I learned in Pilates and it may look simple but it truly burns! Typically I do twenty lifts and then pulse at the top of the motion. Your palms are facing up and you lift as high as possible. This move helps with posture because it works your arms and back muscles. As mentioned before, these muscles are neglected often times so incorporating these movements can give a great burn to this area. You can wear wrist weights as well to increase the challenge and work on your strength!