Whether we’re driving, working at the computer, cooking, cleaning, or helping our kids with homework, it seems our society is in a perpetual forward fold. This affects our posture, tightens and shortens our hip flexors, rounds our shoulders and keep our necks in an unrelaxed state. In turn, taking inches from our height. I did my own test of my uncorrected posture compared to my corrected posture attained through my stretching exercises and body awareness. I gained 1 INCH just by standing up straight!
Short term effects can also be lower back pain, neck pain, headaches, sleep deprivation, muscular imbalance in the body and bad posture. Long term effects can be chronic as your posture deteriorates. Joint movement becomes restricted, causing lack of motion throughout the body and eventually losing inches to our height. When we see our parents after a while and think to ourselves, how they used to be taller, well they were! This is an ongoing problem that has not been given enough awareness. When correcting our posture we need to strengthen and stretch certain muscles. For now, I want to focus on the stretching; the body takes a while to open up and give way, so that we are able to strengthen the proper muscles. In a few weeks I will post strengthening exercises. Here are some quick tips to apply to your daily routine to keep you upright and living well.
I like to get myself settled in for the night and plant down in front of my TV and do these stretches.
STRETCH: HIP FLEXORS AND PSOAS MUSCLE
1. Start on your knees and lunge one leg forward
2. Always align your ankle directly under you knee
3. Keep your other knee planted while resting your hand on hips or on top of your thigh
4. Relax into the stretch for 1 minute and repeat other side
5. This will stretch short/tight hip flexors
STRETCH: DEEPER HIP FLEXOR STRETCH
1. Lie down on your stomach, supporting your upper body on your forearms
2. Bend your right leg and grab with your right hand and pull into you as far as you can with no pain
3. You will feel some discomfort but you should not feel pain. Hold for 1 min and repeat other side
STRETCH: SUPPORTED BRIDGE
1. This is a great stretch for lower back, relieves back tension and feels so good!
2. Lie on your back, knee bent and hip width apart
3. Heels should be as close to your buttocks as possible
4. Press down through your heels and lift your hips to the ceiling
5. Place your yoga block directly under your tailbone…and let your body weight rest down
6. This is a restorative so just let your body relax completely. If you feel pain you need to probably have block to high and in your lower back. Slide down and make sure it’s directly under the bony plate at bottom of your spine.
STRETCH: FISH POSE IS A GREAT CHEST OPENER/SHOULDER STRETCH
1. This stretch starts off as if you were suntanning on the beach propped up on your forearms
2. Keep your legs together and press your thighs into the ground
3. Press your sternum up to the ceiling, roll your shoulder heads back and let your head relax back
4. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat a few times…
STRETCH: SHOULDER STRETCH
1. I do this one every day! You can use any belt for this doesn’t have to be a yoga belt
2. Put your right arm up and close to your ear bend your arm at the elbow
3. Reach your left arm up the middle of your back
4. If you can reach your hands great, clasp them and stretch
5. If you need assistance use a belt like my image, slowly crawl your hands close to each other and hold 30 seconds
6. Repeat other side and repeat both sides again
Once you starts stretching daily you will start to feel and see the difference.
Do your own test. I have always had a sway back/anterior tilt to my pelvis and my neck (like most) juts forward. In yoga they stress over and over to maintain a neutral pelvis. Well when i started applying this rule to my daily posture, I gained a WHOLE INCH in my height. You can practice your own body awareness by lengthening your tailbone away from your waist while standing in line at grocery stores or banks. Switch your purse to your other arm or shoulder for the day. Little things that you will see will slowly start to relieve shoulder and back pressure. Happy standing 🙂