Have you ever wondered where that mysterious ache in your neck or back comes from? Chances are, it’s not from your weekly workouts. Poor posture is one of the leading causes of injuries inside and outside the studio doors! Since it’s a gradual transition, it’s hard to notice how bad it’s gotten over time. The good news? It’s easily correctable and simple to maintain, with a tailored workout regimen (posterior chain/core exercises), and with proper stretching.
Do these five stretches to improve your posture:
- Chest and shoulder opener
- Neck tucks
- Levator scapulae stretch
- Prone cobra stretch
- Thoracic release
These five stretches performed alongside these workouts will have you standing taller, experiencing less pain and feeling way more confident in your day-to-day life!
Chest & Shoulder Opener
Since we primarily move in a forward direction from walking, holding things or typing at a computer, we tend to use our chest and shoulder muscles more than the backsides of our bodies. This causes our chest and shoulder muscles to be more strong and stiff as a result. This causes poor mobility, and leads to back pain and rounded shoulders. This shoulder and chest stretch will allow you to relieve these muscles, allowing increased mobility to build the foundation for better posture.
Forward head posture (aka “text neck”) is becoming more and more common in today’s digital age. If you’re glued to your computer or your head is buried in your smartphone, this is a stretch that needs to be in your daily repertoire. It’s also easy enough to do periodically throughout the day right from your desk! Begin with a deep breath in, and slowly exhale while tucking your chin back as far as possible while keeping it level with the ground.
Levator Scapulae Stretch
(3:45 of video)
This stretch is an absolute essential for anyone suffering from forward head posture and the neck pain associated with it! This muscle is the one responsible for holding your head in this bad position, hence the added soreness! Doing this twice a day (lunch and before bed) will allow you to relieve the tension in these muscles.
Prone Cobra Stretch
This will help strengthen your back, and also help build mobility in your shoulder and chest muscles. If you’re looking to take this stretch to the next level, try adding some forward reaches, and arcs (like you’re making a snow angel) to further increase mobility and strengthen your back muscles! Remember to always keep your chin tucked.
If you have chronic backaches, this stretch is an absolute must. While it’s common to think that your lower back causes the majority of the pain, that’s actually a myth. Our thoracic spine (the central region) is often the culprit. One of my biggest tips to clients and students is to look above and below the area that’s hurting. This stretch helps release tension in your lower and upper back as a result. Pro tip: always focus on your breath in this stretch for your own safety, and also to see the best results!