Two Exercises to Fix Your Posture - Indianapolis Fitness And Sports Training

Two Exercises to Fix Your Posture

written by Bill Hartman

Question:  I’ve been working hard on trying to fix my posture, but it doesn’t seem to be helping. Are there any exercises that I can do to improve my posture?

Signed, Help Heal my Hunchback

Posture is one of those things that is grossly misunderstood.

It tends to be thought of as some sort of static, statue-like ideal that we should all seek out because, well, it’s “good” posture. (Blame Mom for that one)

The reality is that we humans weren’t designed to be static creatures. We are designed to be movers. 

It’s actually the reduction of movement capabilities that results in the appearance of “bad” posture. Truth be told, there is no such thing as bad posture, only limitations that predispose and limit our ability to position ourselves.

Consider a long care drive or airline flight. You’re in a cramped, limited space for several hours. This is an imposed constraint that limits your movement options. Most folks don’t walk away from the car or plane after such a trip and express how loose and comfortable they feel. It’s typically the opposite with the desire to move around more to get comfortable.

When you look at yourself in the mirror or in photos, you may see that your chest, back, or shoulders favor a certain posture or position that you find substandard in regard to your mental picture of what “good” posture really means. The common strategy at this point is to try to activate certain muscles to “fix” your posture.

This is typically a bad idea. You’ve now begun a process of unnecessary and undesired muscle activity that further restricts and limits your positioning capabilities. This is typically felt as burning in muscles on or around the shoulder blades, aching in your upper back, lower back pain, neck pain, or even headaches.

Your goal in regard to fixing posture should be to move more. Sometimes it is that simple. Getting away from your desk, changing your body positions more frequently, and engaging in a general exercise program may all be viable solutions.

Those with rounded shoulders often blame weak or tight muscle for the undesired hunchback or even flat-backed appearance they see in the mirror. However, a key, and often missing, element to movement, comfort, and better posture is not the muscles on the outside, but rather, what goes on inside your body. 

The shape of your chest, back, and position of your head and shoulders is determined by the ability to breathe effectively in an upright position. Because of gravity, your lungs fill up with air from the bottom up like pouring water into a glass. Prolonged upright posturing, like sitting at at desk for hours at a time, may result in the reduced ability to fill the upper part of the lung and result in physical appearance that many associated with “bad” posture.

The simple solution then is to reverse direction of the way your lungs fill with air. This can be done with very simple exercises that essentially turn you upside down.

Here’s two examples to get you started.

Level 1 

Place some pads or pillows under your knees to elevate them slightly.

Lower yourself down to your forearms such that your hips are higher than your shoulders.

Tuck your hips under you as if someone was pulling down on your back pockets.

Push your upper back toward the ceiling by pushing away from the floor with your forearm to make your back feel “big” between your shoulder blades.

Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth being sure to exhale fully each breathe.

Hold the position for a minute or two as you breathe.

Repeat 2-3 sets and do this exercise at least twice a day.

Level 2

Start from a position on your hands and knees with your arms straight.

Keeping your arms straight, lift your hips upward as high as possible until your knees are fully extended.

Push away from the floor and keep your back “big.”

Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth being sure to exhale fully each breathe.

Hold the position for a minute or two as you breathe.

Repeat 2-3 sets and do this exercise at least twice a day.

Bill Hartman

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