I’m finally getting some good inspiration for some blog posts, so you can expect them to come more regularly now (as long as this mojo keeps comin’ that is). After talking with Dave Pritchard about going to speak at a few of his accounts, Dave asked me if I could come up with a quick list of posture tips. Ya know, stuff folks could do on their own with little direction. I chewed on that question for a few days and came up with this little nugget o’ knowledge. Read. Digest. Improve!
1. “Butt and Gut” The most common problem with posture these days is a pelvis that is rotated forward from sitting too much. To counter this, focus on tightening your abdominal muscles and your glutes while standing, walking and sitting. You will find that your achy back will get a bit of relief and your posture take a big step in the right direction.
2. “Crush the Can” For your upper torso, shoulder positioning is key for good posture. Imagine there is an empty can between the lower part of your shoulder blades. Now crush that can with your shoulder blades! This will bring your shoulders back toward their ideal position. You might feel like you are walking around a bit to “proud” at first, but the benefits of better posture (better breathing, more alertness, less aches) far outweighs your false sense of appearing cocky or showy.
3. Tuck your chin When looking at somebody with terrible neck posture, the two most glaring muscular deficiencies are shoulder muscles and neck muscles not doing their job. Folks have their necks jutting forward like a tortoise trying to reach out and eat something. Not pretty and not good for preventing arthritis proliferation down the road. Work on tucking your chin while your shoulders are pulled back. Start by pushing your tongue against the roof of your mouth (increases deep neck muscle activation) and tuck your chin towards your neck. This will get easier and easier to do, especially once you take care of….
4. Improve your neck range of motion The muscles at the top of your neck/base of your skull provide the majority of your range of motion when turning your head. If those muscles are tight, as they often are with bad posture, you will have an increased likelihood of headaches or migraines and will have terrible range of motion. If you apply a gentle pressure using a theracane or lacrosse ball while tucking your chin you will gain range of motion and get rid of some trigger points keeping your range of motion restricted. Sometimes you just won’t be able to get the same ROM turning left and right, and that is often because the bone in your neck have rotated, which in order to be put back in place you will need a little help (like from a chiropractor, that’s their bread and butter!)
5. Stretch your hamstrings! Tight hamstrings can “pull” on your back and cause back pain. Stretch for at LEAST 20 seconds, preferably a minute per side. Focus on breathing deeply through your nose and out of your mouth while doing this. Fast and shallow breathing will lead to your muscles being guarded and you won’t make any stretching progress.
6. Practice sitting in a deep squat In third world countries many people don’t have chairs to sit in and squat instead. Due to this, the prevalence of low back pain is much lower. When you have good range of motion in your hips, you won’t need to get it from your back. Hips are built for mobility and your low back is built for stability. Starting with your back against the wall and your feet ~12-18″ from the wall shoulder width apart, drop down into the deepest squat you can for 2 minutes. At first this may be a bit uncomfortable (due to you using previous unused hip socket real estate) but as time passes it won’t hurt and your range of motion will go through the roof and your back pain through the floor!
7. MOBILIZE, MOBILIZE, MOBILIZE! Doing repetitive activities often overloads muscles. When this happens your body will put down scar tissue and trigger points will develop in the muscles. This will restrict range of motion, induce pain and generally act like your body’s check engine light turning on (Hey, I’m hurting right now! Stop doing that and fix it!). Using a lacrosse ball or foam roller on these tender muscles goes a long way in keeping your body moving and out of an office like mine. Of course, sometimes they develop so much that you’ll need a a little help from a professional to give you a helping hand.
8. Get more sleep Everybody should benefit from the restorative effects of ~8 hours of sleep. Your body does a whole bunch of rebuilding during this time. More refreshed= muscles that can hold good posture for longer.
9. Drink more water! When you are being a good little boy or girl foam rolling, lacrosse balling, stretching and exercising there is a great deal of metabolic waste produced. Flush it out better by consuming half your weight in ounces of H20 per day. Once again, more refreshed/less sore muscles= better able to hold good posture.
10. Listen to your body Awareness is key. If you notice you have a little bit of an ache or a “pop” while doing an activity, address the issue before it snowballs into something worse. If your knee wobbles when you squat or are standing on one leg, fix the wobble before you end up blowing out your knee. If you are thirsty- drink. If you are hungry- drink (and then wait 20 minutes–if you’re still hungry you need food, if not you were really just thirsty) If you are pooped from being on the go, take a day off and rest. You know you better than anybody else. Trust yourselves!
For more info, visit www.selectspineandsport.com!