Weekly Wellness 06-03-2019
COLUMBIA- We know that having good posture is important, but why? Good posture is important to balance. Balance is important for many reasons. When applying good balance to exercise or activities, it's important because it allows you to maintain correct form, which can result in fewer injuries and greater gains.
Physical reasons for poor posture include:
- Inflexible muscles that decrease range of motion. For example, overly tight, shortened hip muscles tug your upper body forward and disrupt your posture. Overly tight chest muscles can pull your shoulders forward.
- Muscle strength affects balance. The "core muscles" (back, side, pelvis, and buttocks) form a sturdy central link between your upper and lower body. Weak core muscles encourage slumping, which tips your body forward and thus off balance. Strong lower leg muscles also help keep you steady when standing.
So what IS good posture?
- chin parallel to the floor
- shoulders even (roll your shoulders up, back, and down to help achieve this)
- neutral spine (no flexing or arching to overemphasize the curve in your lower back)
- arms at your sides with elbows straight and even
- abdominal muscles braced
- hips even
- knees even and pointing straight ahead
- body weight distributed evenly on both feet
Pectoral Massage: Begin by rolling the shoulders back and down. Make a fist with the right hand and gently press the knuckles into the left pectoral muscle next to the sternum. Place the palm of the left hand on top of the fist for added pressure. Slowly drive the knuckles across the muscle toward the shoulder joint. Lift the hand, returning it to the starting position, and repeat.
Shoulder External Rotations: Internal rotation is a common problem. External rotation can help. Roll the shoulders back and down. Tuck the pelvis slightly to maintain a neutral lower-back position throughout the exercise. Slowly twist the wrists until the thumbs point away from the body. Hold for a few seconds and release; repeat.
Chin Tuck: This exercise stretches the muscles of the neck, allowing the skull to return to a more neutral, balanced position while the spine is lengthened. Stand with your hips and shoulders against a wall. Heels can be an inch or two away from the wall. Lifting through the crown of the head, gently bring the chin down toward the throat while pressing the back of the head against the wall for a few seconds. Rest and repeat. Place a pillow behind the head if the pressure is uncomfortable.
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch: Start in a kneeling lunge position (one knee on the floor and the other leg bent 90 degrees in front of you with foot flat). Lift from the crown of the head to elongate the spine. From here, drive the hip of the kneeling leg in a gentle thrusting pattern to achieve the stretch. Hold for a few seconds, then release and repeat. Perform the exercise several times for both hips. Place a pillow under the knee for added cushion.
Hip Hinge with Fly: This exercise improves your ability to extend your upper back. Place feet hip-width apart, and hinge at the hips while simultaneously angling the upper body forward. Aim to slightly arch the lower back by lifting the tailbone. Retract and depress the shoulder blades. Start with the arms extended and palms clasped together directly in front of the chest. Then slowly swing the arms out to the sides of the body at about shoulder height with a slight external shoulder rotation, and pause when you feel contraction in the upper posterior muscles and a stretch in the pectorals. Release and repeat.