Over time, habits like slouching, inactivity, and sitting on poorly supported chairs and stools can cause muscle fatigue and tension in the spine. This can cause poor posture, leading to further health concerns, including back pain, joint degeneration, shortened muscles, rounded shoulders, and even a softer stomach.
Improving your posture offers various benefits, including more energy, easier breathing, better productivity, fewer headaches, and a lowered risk of injuries.
Proper Posture and Your Spine
Your spine has three curves – the neck (cervical), the middle of the back (thoracic), and the lower back (lumbar). When your posture becomes compromised, your neck may protrude forward, your middle back can round, and your lower back develops an anterior pelvic tilt, lifting upward.
Additionally, you may develop asymmetries due to poor posture, with one side of the body becoming tighter or weaker than the other, further damaging your health and alignment. You can add specific exercises to your daily routine to counteract your body’s adaptations over time.
You can try the following exercises to reverse the effects of poor posture.
Shoulder-Opening Over and Backs
Grab a towel or band and hold it in a wide, overhand grip. Then, slightly pull your hands apart to create tension in the band or towel, hold it at waist level to start, and slowly raise your arms up and behind your back.
Maintain the tension in the band or towel, and only move as far as your shoulders allow, then return your hands to your starting point. Start with a wider grip and shorten your grip over time.
Cobra pose reverses the effect of sitting on almost all of your body’s joints. Lay on your stomach with your feet hip-width apart and the tops of your feet flat on a mat.
Plant your hands next to your chest, draw your shoulders down and back, and engage your quadriceps as you slowly draw your upper body forward and up, using your core and back muscles. Hold for a few breaths before slowly lowering.
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
Tight hip flexors stem from sitting for too long and contribute to developing the anterior pelvic tilt that can cause or aggravate lower back pain. You can stretch your hip flexors by starting in a kneeling position and then stepping one foot forward with your knee bent 90 degrees.
Align your spine by gently contracting your glutes and abdomen, creating a posterior pelvic tilt. Then, slowly shift your weight forward until you feel a stretch in the front hip of your back leg. Hold for ten deep breaths before switching.
Adding a few posture-enhancing exercises into your daily routine allows you to reverse the effects of poor posture on your spine and joints.
By realigning your body, you avoid wear and tear on your joints that stems from misalignment and put less stress on your cartilage and ligaments while building supportive muscle to protect your body from further pain.
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