Poor posture is a common problem these days, and over time, it can lead to back problems and neck pain, according to physical therapists at Harvard University. Many of us spend much of the day sitting down hunched over desks, and this is one of the things that exacerbates the problem.
By ensuring that you engage in strengthening exercises like swimming and regularly give yourself movement breaks away from your desk, you can do a lot to combat the problem, but if you’re concerned about your posture, there are specific exercises you can do to target particular issues. Three of the most common are rounded shoulders, a hunched back and a forward neck.
To Fix Rounded Shoulders
When your shoulders are rounded, the muscles in your chest are pulling your shoulders forwards, which makes you appear shorter. If your upper back muscles are weak, there is nothing to counterbalance the rounding, and this can eventually cause back pain and make your posture worse.
To address the problem, you need to stretch your chest and shoulders, and build your upper back strength. For the upper back, practice pull-ups. These can be performed anywhere if you have a set of gym rings with adjustable straps, so carry them with you in order to strengthen your muscles regularly. Work towards three sets of eight pull-ups with two minutes of rest in between each set. For your chest, hold onto the sides of a door frame and push your chest forwards until you feel the stretch. Hold the position for 15 seconds, and then increase the tension by pushing your elbows against the door frame. Repeat the stretch three times.
To Fix A Hunched Back
Symptoms of a hunched back can range from simply looking hunched to stiffness and pain. Stretching your chest and releasing the tension in your chest and upper back should help to improve your posture.
Use the door frame stretch to stretch the chest, and use a massage ball to reduce tension. Hold the ball with both hands, and roll it around your chest muscles. When you come across areas of tightness, use the ball to apply pressure in order to help release the tension. Massage your chest three times on each side, for about 30 seconds each time. To release tension in your back, lie on the floor with a foam roller against your mid-back. Cross your arms in front of your chest, and lift your back over the roller, holding for 15 seconds at points of tension.
To Fix A Forward Neck
A forward neck often develops as a result of prolonged use of a computer. It can make your head push forwards from the shoulders, causing stiffness and aches. To correct this, you need to strengthen your neck muscles, which you can do by practicing a chin tuck. Roll your shoulders back and down and look directly ahead. With two fingers held on your chin, tuck your chin and pull your head backwards. Hold this for five seconds before releasing, and repeat 10 times.
Be mindful of your posture as you’re navigating your daily life, making an effort to stand tall and avoid hunching when you’re sitting. Regular strengthening exercises can help you build your overall strength to combat poor posture, but if you have specific problems, target key areas for strengthening and stretching, and you’ll be able to improve your posture, reducing aches and pains in the process.