With more and more time being spent hunched over computers, sitting on our daily commute and curled up on the sofa every night, it’s no wonder that posture is fast becoming worse.
Shoulders curve in, chest and biceps get super tight and the upper back muscles get weak and unable to hold good posture for any length of time.
During your day to day activities, your first goal should be to be aware of your posture. After potentially years of being a hunched over, you will probably feel weird standing taller and lifting your chest/ pulling your shoulders down and back. Add to this the fatigue you’ll develop through those underused back muscles, and initially, you’ll find this hard to do for long. But every time you catch yourself slumping forward to that Mr Burns position, pull yourself up and stand tall!
I’m not looking to get into all the various lifestyle factors that tie into the causes of poor posture. You no doubt know what you do that leads to that.
What I want to do is give you 5 tips to help you start to correct it.
Stretch the SCM
The Sternocleidomastoid connects the skull, just behind the ear, to the collar bone. In a head forward, slumped posture, this muscle can get shortened and tight, holding your head forward and increasing the unwanted curvature in your upper back.
To stretch the left side, gently tilt your head to the right and slightly backwards. You can increase the stretch by holding your left arm behind your back.
Hold the stretch for 20-30s and you should feel the tension ease. Don’t jerk or force it. Repeat on the other side.
Release the Pec minor
The pec minor connects the third, fourth and fifth ribs to the top of the shoulder blade. As it tightens, it can also pull you into the hunched posture.
A simple release is to use the edge of a foam roller. Lie face down with the edge of the roller sitting below the collar bone, roll slowly back and forward approx 6-8 inches, ensuring you go slow and you don’t go over 6/10 on your perceived pain scale.
Roll for 2-30s per side.
Improve thoracic extension/rotation
Improving the ability to extend and rotate through your upper back is another key component in improving your posture. The kneeling T-spine rotation is a key part of my clients’ warm up, and you can use it to help improve upper back mobility.
Perform 5-8 reps per side.
Strengthen the rhomboids
The rhomboids can become weak from lack of use. Batwings are a great exercise to strengthen these muscles. Hold a couple of light KBs or DBs and hinge over as below. Then simply pull the weights up towards your armpits and hold for 20-30 seconds. Perform 2-3 sets. Make sure you keep your head in as neutral a position as possible.
Strengthen the traps, mid back and rear delts
Building on the rhomboid strengthening above, facepulls are a great option for strengthening not only the rhomboids, but the traps and rear delts. Basically everything across the upper and mid back.
Perform 2-3 sets of 10-20 reps. Maintain good position and don’t cheat with momentum or by letting your head drop forward.