Self Care, Exercises, Injury Prevention, Neck and Back Pain
Good posture keeps your body balanced and your spine aligned. It allows you to hold your head high in social situations, helps prevent head and back aches and increases your shoulder strength.
Whether you are standing, sitting or lying down, it's important to maintain a proper posture.
We've put together a few exercises to strengthen the supportive muscles you need to stand and sit tall.
Stand with your back to the wall. Put your heels together. Try to touch the wall with your neck, shoulders and spine at the same time. Hold for 10 seconds and then walk away from the wall as your maintain your position.
Sit up Straight.
Sitting for hours on end in front of a computer screen can be a real pain in the neck. Our bodies were not designed to sit for extended periods of time. In fact, researchers from the University of Sydney found that prolonged sitting increases the risk factors for disease, independent of other physical activity. In addition to taking breaks every 20 minutes to move, consider these helpful tips to maintain good posture while seated.
This simple but effective exercise strengthens your back and abdominal core as well as your shoulder and back muscles.
Start on your hands and knees with your palms under your shoulders. Extend both legs straight behind you, balancing on your toes. (Beginners can use their knees.) Your position should resemble the raised position of a push-up. Tighten your abdominal muscles to prevent a "sway-back" and gaze down at the floor. (For a more challenging variation of this exercise, lower your arms and balance on your forearms.) Hold the plank until you start to feel muscle fatigue. If you're just starting out, you may be able to hold the plank for just 10 seconds. Rest and repeat.
Be a Bird Dog.
Start on your hands and knees with a flat back. Extend your right leg behind you and extend your left arm in front of you. Balance and hold. For more intensity, bring your extended arm and leg toward your midsection and touch your elbow to your knee. Release and repeat on the other side.
Lie on your stomach with your arms extended in front of you. With your thumbs up, slowly lift your chest off the floor and expand the chest by opening the arms at the shoulder. Hold and lower. Lift your legs off the floor. Hold, lower and repeat the exercise. For more intensity, lift your chest and your legs at the same time. Hold, lower and repeat.
Stretch and Roll.
From the plank position, lower your legs and straighten your arms. Extend your head and spine. Lift your chest off the floor and move into the cobra pose. Hold for a few seconds then change positions. Move onto your hands and knees, gently round your back and arch up into a cat stretch. Lower and repeat.
For a strong finish, stretch your back.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Raise your arms over your head, holding your biceps close to your ears. Lace your fingers together. Tuck your pelvis forward to protect the small of your back. Slowly bring arms forward as you roll the stretch down your spine. Do not push the stretch. Move as far as comfortable and return to your starting position.
Strengthening your back and abdominal muscles will support your posture. After a few weeks, you'll personify confidence as you walk, stand and sit.
But, before starting these exercises, especially if you experience back pain, talk to your primary care provider or your orthopaedic specialist.
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