We do so much forward movement throughout the day. We cook in front of our bodies. We drive with our hands on the wheel in front of our bodies. We type with our phones, tablets, and computers in front of our bodies. Our bodies are constantly in a state of repetition in front of the body.
Not surprisingly this leads to the muscles in the front of our bodies becoming tight and overactive.
Many of us also sit all day at work, in the car or at home. This leads to tight hip flexors and hamstrings, and a little (often pesky) muscle called the piriformis.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
When imbalances like these start to occur, we start to notice changes in our posture.
You see your shoulders start to round forward. You will notice your chin moving forward. Your low back may arch. Over time, these changes in posture can develop into injuries or pain.
Therefore, it is really important that we address our postural changes with appropriate exercise and flexibility programs. Although you may not be able to change all of your daily habits that have led to your posture change (ask your boss if you can get rid of your computer, see how well that goes over!), we may be able to bring your body back to balance and improve your posture.
Just as important as strengthening will be, we will need to improve the flexibility of certain muscles to correct the postural imbalance. Of most importance are the pectoralis major and minor (chest muscles), anterior deltoid (front shoulder muscle), hip flexors, hamstrings (back of upper thigh), and piriformis.
For each of the following stretches, complete 2-4 sets holding at the point of mild discomfort (not sharp pain!) for 30 seconds.
1. Pectoralis Major/Minor and Anterior Deltoid: The easiest way to stretch your chest and front shoulder muscles is to stand in a doorway with your arms out to your sides and elbows bent to 90 degrees. Then slowly move forward through the doorway as your chest opens.
2. Hip Flexors: Begin in a kneeling position with your left knee touching the ground and right leg in front of your body. Tilt your pelvis under (Imagine your hips are a bucket of water. Tip the water out the back of your body to tilt under. You should feel your core engage as you do this.) If you do not already feel a stretch in your left hip flexor, begin to reach your body forward while holding the pelvis tilt. Repeat on the right side.
3. Hamstrings: Lie on the floor on your back. Bring your right leg up toward the ceiling and use your hands to hold onto the back of your thigh, calf, or ankle (whichever is available to you). Try to keep your right knee straight as you stretch. Repeat on the left.
4. Piriformis: Begin seated in a chair with feet flat on the floor. Take your right ankle and cross it over your left knee. Then lean forward as you gently press your right knee toward the floor. Repeat on left.
For each of the strengthening exercises, complete 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions with a moderate to heavy load. Be sure you are watching your form and perform each movement with great precision, as you do not want to create additional impairments as you correct your posture.
1. Seated cable rows
2. Reverse flys on an incline
3. Ball squats
5. Dead bug
6. Hip bridges
7. High rows
8. Floor prone cobra
To help improve your posture, complete these 12 exercises 2-3 times per week. Begin with the stretching routine and then follow with the strengthening exercises.
Within no time, you will be standing taller with your chest high and shoulders pulled back!
Connect here with Expert Sarah Walentynowicz.