It’s something that seems to be hindering more of the population and unfortunately – bad posture doesn’t seem to be going away.
With more and more office jobs around, where slumping behind a desk seems part of the job description nowadays, the problem is spiraling out of control. The result is that an increasing number of people are starting to experience the severe back pain that accompanies such posture.
To put the problem into perspective, let’s take a look at some statistics. Researchers have found that for every inch that you move your head forward, the weight on your upper back and neck will go up by 10 pounds. Suffice to say, if your head was to move forward just three inches, you’ve immediately placed an extra 30 pounds of pressure on the area.
As such, it’s a problem that needs addressing. Let’s now take a look at some of the best exercises to sort bad posture and get you re-aligned.
Hip flexor stretch
For anyone who frequents the gym this exercise might be quite familiar – it’s probably one of the most popular that we will look at. It’s something which is regarded as extremely effective in treating lower back pain, whilst also providing you with that natural lumbar curve at the bottom of your back which can improve your posture no-end.
To perform the exercise, start by kneeling down on your left side and pointing your toes downward. At the same time, your right foot needs to be flat on the floor. In other words, you will have created something of an ‘n’ shape with the gap in your legs.
Both of your hands should be pushing down on your right leg, as you push your hips forward until you feel the stretching sensation.
Throughout the stretch, make sure that your abs are contracting and your pelvis is tilting backwards somewhat. You should be able to hold the stretch for up to thirty seconds, before switching legs.
This exercise aims to strengthen your neck muscles. The importance of this shouldn’t be understated; by performing this movement you can stop your head slipping forward and ultimately causing that added pressure heaping onto your back.
The beauty about the chin tuck is that it’s one of the easiest exercises of the lot to carry out. It’s possible to perform it whilst either standing up or sitting down and you’ll start with your shoulders pinned back and down. Proceed to look straight ahead, place your two middle finders on your chin and move your head backwards. Attempt to hold the exercise for three to five seconds and aim to perform ten consecutive times.
There are slight deviations of this movement as well. For example, if you’re sat down, maybe in a parked car, you can use the headrest as additional support. Aim to push your head back into this for the same amount of time, but on this occasion look to repeat up to twenty times.
As the name suggests, this next exercise involves getting your body into the shape of an ‘X’. By doing this, you’ll be strengthening the muscles based in your upper back. Specifically, the rhomboids will be targeted – and this is essential in preventing all of the head movement that we touched upon in the introduction.
To achieve this ‘X’ shape, you need to start the movement but sitting on the floor with your legs spread forward in front of you.
Next, you’ll need to use a resistance band. Place the band around the bottom of your feet, before crossing them to create the ‘X’. Grab hold of the band with your arms outstretched directly in front of you, before pulling it towards your hips. Make sure that you bend your elbows during the movement, before holding for several seconds.
You should be looking to perform this for 8-12 reps and three sets.
On the subject of shapes, let’s now move onto the exercise which maneuvers your body into a ‘V’.
The importance of performing this exercise has been highlighted in several studies. For example, the Scandinavian Society of Clinical Physiology and Nuclear Medicine concluded in 2013 that it can aid neck and shoulder pain substantially if it’s performed at least five times a week. Considering the fact that it only takes a couple of minutes to carry out – we’d call it a no-brainer.
Unlike the ‘X’ shape movement, this one involves you standing up. However, once again it does make use of a resistance band and you should start by standing on it – with one foot slightly further back. From this point, lift your arms directly up and away for your body at about a 30 degree angle. Throughout the whole process you should be making sure that you retain a bend in your elbows. The exercise concludes once your arms reach shoulder level – where you should hold for several seconds.
Whilst carrying out the exercise, another tip is to make sure that your back is completely straight and your shoulder blades are down.
Doorway chest stretch
Something that we reiterated at the start was the problem that so many office workers face in relation to “hunching”. In short, it’s something that just destroys your posture and in turn, gives you that dreaded back pain. The doorway chest stretch addresses this by loosening your chest muscles which can cause the “hunch”.
As the name may have given away, start out by finding a doorway and bending your arm at an angle so the upper part is parallel to the frame and the lower is parallel to the floor. Proceed to lean towards your arm which is resting on the doorframe and hold the stretch for 7-10 seconds.
Now you have completed this once, try it again but by performing a small lunch with your legs. By doing this you can apply even more pressure to your chest and enhance the stretch.
You should try and perform the stretch two to three times on each side.
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