I am starting to experience some back pain from poor posture as a result of nursing a progressively growing baby. I don’t have the round, concave bad posture some of my peers exhibit from decades of working for hours in front of a computer. However, I occasionally catch myself letting my head hang forward and slumping.
With regular posture exercises, I can slowly strengthen my neck and back muscles to correct my poor posture and hopefully prevent further posture problems. This post discusses stretches you can to work home to correct your poor posture.
Why is Good Posture Important?
A forward hanging head is the most common posture problem. A human head weighs about 10 to 14 pounds. When it hangs forward, it is no longer in the center of gravity, therefore the neck and upper back muscles have to work extra hard just to hold your head up.
Every inch that your head hangs forward puts an additional 15 pounds of strain on your neck and upper back muscles. Over time, the trapezius muscle that runs from the base of the skull out to the shoulder and down the mid-back becomes thick and tight from the constant tension of holding your misaligned head. The nerves that run between the neck bones to the arms and upper body also get squeezed.
Good posture is important. A forward hanging head from bad posture can result in neck pain, tension headaches, and numbness or tingling in the arms and hands. In addition, the over-develop trapezius muscle causes pain in the upper and middle back from the muscle imbalance. The next time you have a tension headache, check the alignment of your head. Are you practicing good posture?
Stretches that improve your posture
- Trapezius stretch
The trapezius stretch is a simple posture exercise you can do anywhere. This posture exercise stretches the sides of your neck and upper trapezius muscle. You can do this while standing or sitting on a chair.
To stretch the left side of your neck, drop your right ear towards your right shoulder. Press your left shoulder down by extending your left arm. Hold for 10 seconds and then change side.
- Chin to chest stretch
This posture exercise stretches the back and sides of your neck. You can do this while standing or sitting on a chair.
To stretch the right side, turn your chin towards your left shoulder. Drop your chin to your chest. Place your right hand on top of your head and gently ease your chin towards your chest. Hold for 10 seconds and then change side.
You won’t actually touch your chin to your chest. Don’t force or yank on your head.
- Elbow press
This posture exercise strengthens the muscles of the middle, upper, and lower back and shoulders. You can do this posture exercise standing or sitting on a chair.
Claps your hands behind your head. Relax your shoulders and pressed them down. If you feel the muscles on the back of your neck tightening while doing this posture exercise, you are holding your shoulders to high. If you can’t get your shoulders to relax, then you should skip this posture exercise.
Gently press the back of your head into your hands. You should feel the muscles along your spine tightening. Hold for 5 seconds.
Next, press your elbows back 10 times. You won’t be able to move your elbows very far (maybe half an inch to an inch). You should feel the stretch in the muscles between your shoulder blades.
- Door frame stretch
This posture exercise stretches the front of the shoulders and chest. When I was pregnant, this stretch was a lifesaver for me. You have to do this posture exercise standing in front of a doorway.
Stretch out your arms at shoulder level. Bend your elbows at a 90° angle. Your fingers should point toward the ceiling. Place your palms on the door frame.
Lean your body forward until you feel a stretch in front of your shoulders and chest. Hold for 10 seconds.
Then slide your elbows several inches higher. Lean your body forward until you feel a stretch in front of the shoulders. Hold for 10 seconds.
Final thoughts on stretching posture exercises
These stretching exercises will reduce the muscle tension and discomfort you experience from poor posture. Do these posture exercises gently and adjust it to your level of flexibility. Stretch until you feel mild tension, but never discomfort.
Until next time and thanks for stopping by Small Steps to Health. If you like what you are reading, please share it with your friends.
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