"The goal of these five exercises is to stretch out the tight muscles and strengthen the weak ones."
Among the most common complaints people bring to their doctors, back pain, neck pain, and tension are all near the top of the list. And most of the time, bad posture is the culprit. This is a common issue for many of us, and is the result of the modern lifestyle, which involves a lot of sitting, rounding our shoulders, leaning over desks, phones, and steering wheels. Unfortunately, these habits can create a lot of strain and tension in the back and lead to issues with our alignment and our spines.
In today’s post, Dr. Keller will demonstrate five simple exercises that can help correct poor posture issues.
- 01:11: A Quick Anatomy Lesson
- 03:46: Doorway Stretch
- 04:34: Pec Massage
- 05:23: Wall Squat
- 06:31: Seated Row
- 07:15:Tricep Dip
- 08:03: Wrap-Up
A Quick Anatomy Lesson
When it comes to rounded shoulders, there's basically a muscle imbalance occurring. You have a set of muscles that are tight and contracted, and another set of that are stretched and weak. To counteract this imbalance, you need to stretch out those tight muscles, and strengthen stretched out, weakened muscles.
The muscles that are tight when you have these rounded shoulders are the following:
- Pecs, both the major and minor, which span from your upper arm down across your chest.
- Lats, which are the lower and mid-back muscles that move up from the hips and connect also in the front of your arm.
- Anterior deltoids, which is the front of your shoulder muscle. If this muscle is tight, it will pull your shoulders in.
- Upper traps. These are the muscles that travel from the top of your shoulder blade to the base of your skull.
- Levator scapulae, a small muscle that goes from the tip of the shoulder blade up the back of the neck.
Again, there’s a second set of muscles that are too weak, which includes:
- Mid and lower trap. These are in the same group as the upper traps mentioned before, but this is the part that goes down your back.
- Serratus anterior. That's a group of muscles that runs across the rib cage.
- Rotator cuff. That's the set of the four muscles that assist the motion of your shoulder.
- Posterior deltoid. This is the back part of your shoulder.
- Rhomboids. These are between the shoulder blade and spinal column.
The goal of these five exercises is to stretch out the tight muscles and strengthen the weak ones.
5 Exercises for Posture
This is a simple stretch. Find a doorway, and extend your arms out so that your elbows are level with your shoulders, and place your hands against the doorframe. Then lean forward, and engage your core so that you're not swaying a lot in your back. As you lean forward, allow your shoulders to start to open. Hold this for 30 to 60 seconds, come back up to rest, then repeat.
The second exercise will also help stretch out tight pec muscles. Get some kind of massage ball, or Thera Cane, and position it on the muscle right under your collarbone and where it attaches to your upper arm bone. Then, simply apply downward pressure. What you're trying to do is massage the pecs downward, to loosen up the tight muscles there. If you have someone who will do it for you, or you can pay someone to do it, that works, too.
The third exercise is to strengthen the lower traps and the serratus interior, while also stretching out your pecs. Stand against the wall, bend your knees so that you’re in a sitting position, and place your arms against the wall, with your upper arms parallel to the ground, hands pointed toward the ceiling (think of a football goal). Then, raise your arms upward, keeping your forearms against the wall the whole time. Try doing three sets of 10.
All you need for this is an elastic band of some sort. Wrap it around a door frame or something sturdy. Then sit with your back straight up and down, not leaning forward, not leaning back, and just pull, contracting with your elbows at 90 degrees at your side, keeping your arms held in. The more resistance you have, the harder this will be, so pick a resistance works best for you. Every time you squeeze in, you'll feel your shoulder blade squeezing together, and this is going to strengthen the rhomboids and the lower trapezius. Again, do three sets of 10.
This exercise also helps stretch out the pecs and strengthen some of the back muscles. The focus of this exercise is on keeping your elbows locked in at your side. So, place your hands on a bench or a chair behind you, and lower yourself down in front of it as low as you can while at the same time keeping your elbows in. Hold, then lift yourself back up, then repeat, squeezing the shoulder blades together and squeezing the elbows in towards each other. Like the others, you can do this exercise in sets of 10.
So those are five exercises you can do to help correct rounded shoulders. This is a very important thing to do because over time, the first set of muscles will continue to get tighter and the second set will continue to weaken, and this imbalance will pull your shoulders farther and farther forward. And as that happens, you might start to correct it by looking up, which can put a lot of pressure on your neck and vertebrae, and you want to prevent that from happening. So, do these exercises to stretch out the tight ones, and strengthen the weaker ones. There are only five, and they don’t take long. Try doing them every other day, and see what it does for your posture and how you feel.