When you spend the majority of your time with your arms in front of you, it becomes habit for your body to round the shoulders. As a result, the muscles in the upper back and neck strain, overstretch and overwork. The chest muscles shorten, the small muscles between the shoulder blades weaken and the back muscles stretch and lengthen. Smaller muscles that are not designed to be postural muscles have to work doing a job they were not designed to do.
And all this poor posture can have a tremendous impact on our health. Poor posture causes all sorts of muscle and ligament imbalances which can lead to chronic back, neck and shoulder pain, headaches, fatigue, difficulty breathing and other more devastating health problems. If you are having pain, it’s important to see a physical therapist and/or a chiropractor who can help your muscle imbalances and align your spine properly.
When your body is aligned it means that your heels, knees, pelvis, and neck are directly stacked on top of each. Your body will not only be able to move so much more efficiently, but you will be able to carry heavier loads, tire less easily, have better digestion and will be less susceptible to injury.
These stretches, yoga poses and exercises are very important to work into your regular training program for improved posture and to combat rounded shoulders. If you sit at a desk or have your arms out in front of you for a large portion of the day (driving, texting, typing, etc.), it’s extra important that you do these as often as you can.
The first 3 can be done sitting on a chair, standing, kneeling, or sitting on the floor. These are great stretches for someone with a desk or office job and can be done (and highly recommended) anytime throughout the day.
Back Bound Hand Pose
Squeeze your shoulder blades down and together and bring both arms and hands behind you. Grab the right elbow with the left hand and then grab the left elbow with your right hand. If this is too hard, grab your wrist or forearm with the opposite hand. Take a few deep breaths. Lift your chest and keep your shoulder blades down and back. Now repeat by grabbing your left elbow with your right hand this time.
Bring your shoulder blades down and back and clasp your hands behind you. Slowly lift your arms as far as you are comfortable as you squeeze your shoulder blades together. I like to pretend there is an orange in between my shoulders and I am trying to squeeze the juice out of it by my shoulders. Breathe deeply for a few breath cycles as you are doing this stretch.
Cow Face Pose
Place the back of your left hand on your lower back and slide it up as far as it will comfortably go. Now stretch your right arm up and bend your elbow reaching behind you to grab your left hand. This is difficult, so if you can’t do it, do not worry. Just go as far as you comfortably can and over time you will get better and better. Remember to keep your chest lifted and your shoulders down and back. Hold for a few breath cycles (30 seconds or so) and then repeat sides.
These 3 yoga poses below are excellent for expanding and stretching the chest, strengthening and reducing tightness of the shoulders, releasing tension in the back, all which will give you excellent results for rounded shoulders and better posture.
Baby Cobra Pose
Lie on your stomach with your hand directly beside your shoulders. Inhale and slowly press yourself up, keeping your elbows bent. Breathe deeply for a few breath cycles and then come back down.
Lie on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Take a deep breath and raise your hips off the floor as high as you are comfortable going. Now draw your shoulders down and back and clasp your hands together if possible. Try to reach them as far to your feet as possible. Breathe deeply for a few breath cycles and lower your body gently to the floor.
Kneel on the floor with your back to a chair. Keep your feet hip width apart and grasp the chair with your hands. Now push your pelvis forward and lift your chest to the sky. Breathe deeply as you keep pushing your shoulder blades back and down and keep lifting your chest as far as you can comfortably go. Hold this pose for a few breath cycles.
Monday, 26 September 2016
Wednesday, 21 September 2016
This exercise stretches the upper back and rhomboid muscles as well as to increase mobility in the shoulder blades & upper back. Begin by engaging your inner core stability below your belly button. Then keeping the head up and chin slightly tucked, clasp your fingers together and reach forward and slight down arching the upper back. Hold for 30 secs, repeat 3 sets 3-4 times daily. This stretch is great to do if you are sitting down on your computer working all day, standing or doing a lot of repetitive lifting where your shoulders, upper back and neck are tight, stiff and sore.
Monday, 19 September 2016
Wednesday, 14 September 2016
This exercise is targeted for eccentric strengthening of the hamstring muscles and tendons. Start with your hands on each side of your hips. Engage your inner core by making yourself skinnier below the belly button and pulling in your waistline. Standing on one leg, bend your body forward by pivoting at the hips and allowing the non weighted leg to pendulum upwards with the movement. Return back to the start and repeat 3 sets of 15 repetitions. This exercise is excellent for increasing the functional strength of your hamstring muscles in conjunction with your core stability. It is particularly useful after recovering from hamstring muscle and tendon strains and overuse tendinopathies.
Monday, 12 September 2016
While the showoff muscles get all the acclaim, they'd be nothing without the supporting cast of smaller stabilizers and assisting muscles. Ignore them, and you'll eventually pay the price. The cost? Injury. Missed workouts. Painful runs. An unbalanced body. Wondering if your'e guilty? Here, experts discuss the most neglected muscles, why they're important, and how to strengthen them for an even, injury-free physique.
The Rotator Cuff
Deltoids the size of grapefruits won't do you much good if you tear your rotator cuff, which is a group of four muscles that literally form a “cuff” to stabilize the shoulder joint. Injure it, and you’ll restrict your range of motion, making overhead movements painful. Shoulders have the most mobility, so they're also the most unstable, keep them strong by taking a 'pre-hab' versus a 'rehab' approach. You typically only see people doing these exercises after they're injured.
Strengthen it: Attach light to medium resistance tubing to a door hinge, then stand with your left side to it, grasping the handle of the tubing with your right hand. Bend right arm at a 45-degree angle to your side (your elbow is at your hip and your forearm is at a 90-degree angle in a handshake position), then rotate your arm at the elbow, pulling the tubing out towards the right side without pulling your upper arm away from your body— like a door opening on a hinge. Next, stand with your right side towards the door hinge. With your right arm bent at a 45-degree angle next to your side, grasp the handle of the tubing with your right hand and rotate your arm at the elbow, pulling the handle in towards the center of your body. Repeat 10 to 12 times on each side, alternating sides for each set.
The Erector Spinae
You probably work your upper back and traps for that wide expanse, but you're likely neglecting the very muscles that keep you upright. The erector spinae is actually a bundle of muscles and tendons that extend throughout the lower, mid and upper back. They're more about posture than anything. Weak spinal erectors and poor posture may lead to back pain and sports injuries.
Strengthen it: Lie face down over a back extension machine with heels anchored. (You can also use a fitness ball if you have a partner to hold down your ankles). Place your hands behind your head with elbows out to the sides. Slowly raise your torso (don’t swing) just until your body forms a straight line, with ears, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles in line. Slowly return back to start. Do three sets of 10-12 reps.
The Gluteus Medius and Minimus
Few muscles get as much attention as the gluteus maximus, yet it could not reach its full potential without these two lesser-known helpers, which serve to stabilize the pelvis— especially when standing on one leg. They're vital for any athletic performance and crucial for walking and climbing stairs. Plus, when they're toned they lift up the glutes.
Strengthen it: Using a heavy resistance tubing circle, step inside the tubing with both feet and fasten around each ankle. Stand in a wide sports stance, knees slightly bent, toes pointed straight ahead and hands on hips or out in front. Step out to the side and continue walking sideways for 8-10 steps, then repeat in the opposite direction. Perform 2-3 sets, 2-3 times a week.
The Tibialis Anterior
Have you ever suffered from shin splints? If so, listen up: failing to strengthen this vital muscle—which runs along the bottom part of your leg, next to your shin bone, and plays a huge role in forming a healthy gait—can increase your risk of getting those nagging lower-leg pains. The tibialis anterior plays a vital role in walking, running and sprinting.
Strengthen it: Do this 2-3 times a week: Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor, then—keeping your heels on the floor—raise your toes off of it for 8-10 reps. To increase the challenge, you can balance a small dumbbell (5 lbs) on your foot for added resistance. Or you can also sit on a high chair or bench, with enough room for your feet to dangle, and do the same exercise with a dumbbell between them.
All the crunches in the world won't get you six-pack abs without working these puppies. The obliques include the external and internal obliques, which cross diagonally from the bottom of your rib cage to your pubic area. Functionally, they keep you stable in an upright position. Cosmetically, the obliques form a 'frame' around the mid-section of your abs. Problem is, most people believe they're strengthening them by doing side bends— but they won't work.
Strengthen it: Do Bicyle Crunches. Lie on your back with your legs extended, feet about 10 inches off the ground, and your hands behind your head. Rotate your right elbow toward your left knee, keeping your opposite elbow on the ground and your opposite leg straight. Exhale as you rotate, thinking about your ribs squeezing toward your hips, then straighten your leg back to the start position. Pause, then repeat the motion to the opposite side. Do 8-10 reps 2-3 times a week.
Sure all those squats, dead lifts and lunges indirectly hit the hamstrings—but not enough. Most guys are quad dominant and ignore their hamstrings, which are only about 60 percent as strong as the quads. So what’s the big deal? Any imbalance of opposing muscle groups, like big quads and weak hamstrings, can cause unequal pull on the joint. And in this particular case, that sets the stage for knee injuries.
Strengthen it: Prone hamstring curl machines and standing leg curl machines are both effective, or try this leg curl move using an exercise ball. Lie on the floor with your heels on top of the ball, toes up toward the ceiling, and legs slightly bent. Lift the hips by pushing down on the ball with your heels, then roll the ball towards you by pulling your heels towards your seat, kneecaps pointed towards the ceiling. Keeping the hips off the ground, roll the ball back out to the starting position and repeat. Do 8-10 reps 2-3 times a week.
The Forearm Extensors
Since these muscles are responsible for gripping heavy things, like dumbbells and barbells, weak ones my hamper your ability to train larger muscles and weaken your entire workout—not to mention your tennis backhand. We get the forearm flexors with all pulling moves or curls or even tricep presses but nothing other than reverse biceps curls hits those muscles.
Strengthen it: While watching TV, you can simply squeeze and release a tennis ball, doing 3 sets of 10 reps 2-3 nights a week. Or try this: tie a light weight to the end of a rope, then tie the rope around a piece of broom handle or a wooden dowel. Stand with arms extended in front of you and roll the weight up and then down by rotating the broom towards you and away from you. Do 2-3 reps.
Monday, 5 September 2016
This is the cat stretch for mid back. Start on your hands and knees both shoulder width apart. Keep your head up and your chin gently tucked with your inner core engaged below the belly button. If you have wrist pain then alternatively, you can go on your fists to support your body weight. Then arch your mid back towards the ceiling like a cat making your shoulder blades wide! Hold for 30 seconds and do 3 sets twice per day. This exercise is great for increasing mobility in the upper back, neck, stretching the Rhomboids and muscles of the neck & spine after injuries such as whiplash, neck, shoulder and mid and low back strains.