Posture goes deeper than just sitting up straight or looking better. Poor posture can make us feel bad and cause physical and medical issues. Chronically poor posture can cause areas of stiffness creating tension and headaches. So what can you do to change this? This is the first part in our posture program.
Understand what better posture is and tips to help you have less pain each day.
Posture is the balance point between our front and back muscles, tendons and ligaments, as well as from side to side. The better our posture the least amount of muscle activity is needed to support this position. We are also strongest and can carry the most load when we achieve a balanced posture, no matter what activity we are doing.
Better posture is less work, more efficient, and our strongest position.
Our shoulders are one part of improving our posture. Rounded shoulders, especially if one side is more rounded than the others, can create continued strain to supporting muscles and cause nerve tension, arm and hand ‘numbness’ or tingling. Look for a forward head position, a ‘hump’ or thickening to the upper part of our back, and head tilt. These are signs that there may be an underlying joint issue present.
Shoulder Posture Test
While standing let your arms hang relaxed, now stick out your thumbs. Are they pointing away from you or toward each other?
Thumbs pointing inward means your shoulders are rounded.
The neck and shoulder muscles are like a tepee. The most stable position for you is where there is a balance between the front and back structures of the neck and shoulder. Too rounded and the shoulders cannot take as much load. Too upright of a posture is also weaker.
Other signs of poor shoulder posture
Shoulder sounds or noises when you move your arm or roll your shoulders. This means there is friction between the muscles under the shoulder blade and the muscle over the rib cage.
Start improving your posture!
One of the first things that you can do to start improving your posture is to begin by paying attention to your breathing. Do your shoulders rise up and down when you breathe? Is the upper part of your breast bone or chest moving when you breathe normally? If this is the case then you are working too hard! It requires 2 to 3 times as much work to breathe in an upper chest pattern of breathing than with a relaxed breathing pattern. It is the same type of breathing as someone with chronic lung disease or COPD. This causes neck tension as well as muscle tension all the way down the back.
Watch how you breathe in a mirror
Do your shoulders rise when breathing in?
Does your upper chest move?
To correct your breathing start by focusing a few breathes into your lower rib cage or back. Place your hands on your lower ribs on your back and push in a little. When you breathe in you should feel an expansion outward into your hands. Let this happen by relaxing and breathing into your hands. Stop breathing with your shoulders and neck.
You can do this on a boat with a goat, and in a house with a mouse, you can practice your breathing anywhere, in any position, and at any time. Breathing into your back is more efficient, reducing back muscle tension, and relaxes your back.
Back breathing Relaxes the Back
Remember, if you practice this once or if you manage to work on this twice a day you will have helped yourself. If you do nothing else to help your posture this is probably the most important exercise that you can do.
Tips to Succeed
Set a personal goal/Start one thing
Make your goal personal in that it is a ‘you goal’.
“I want feel better each day.”
Commit to starting an activity that such as this program that you will do one posture exercise a day.
Tell someone what you want to accomplish
You will almost double your chances of success if you tell someone in your inner circle.
Set alerts on your phone
You can incorporate this into getting up from your desk.
Add a posture exercise to a current habit
What do you currently do regularly such as brushing your teeth or driving to work that you can add back breathing to an existing habit?
Back breathing while driving? Put a sticky note on your steering wheel and move back and forth to your dash. Every time you see it breath into your back and then move it again.
Add a habit to a cue
I am feeling tight or aching therefore I am going to do an activity or stretch to help feel better. (The reward)
For some tips on succeeding in changing or adding a habit check out this link. Double your chance of success in achieving your goal.