We’re always hearing about core workouts and keeping our core muscles in shape. That’s because, by doing so, you’re able to perform a whole range of exercises that help keep the rest of your body toned and strong. Obviously, over time, age tends to change our posture – muscles shrink and are weakened as they are replaced by fat or fibrous tissue. This can lead to a curvature of the spine.
But there’s good news: by practising daily habits and doing simple exercises regularly, you can not only regain proper posture, you can also improve the overall way in which you carry yourself. By strengthening the muscles around your neck, spine and shoulders, you’ll maintain stronger posture while alleviating any pain along the way.
Start with something simple such as wall tilts: Stand flat up against the wall and place one hand behind you on your lower back. Pull in your abdominal muscles until you feel your hand against the wall. This will ensure that you have a straight spine. Hold there for several seconds and release. Repeat a few times.
You could also do a low-impact spine extension exercise by sitting upright in a chair and doing very deep, slow breathing. This helps with chest flexibility, which improves breathing and lung function. Do this 10 times per session.
Next, do small exercises to loosen the areas around your core. Shoulder rolls while sitting or standing are an excellent way to stretch shoulder and upper-back muscles. Make sure that your head is straight. Head rolls will help expand neck muscles, too. Work out your hips and calves by using the counter or the back of a chair for support and standing with one leg stretched and extended behind your body – it should be straight with your heel on the ground. Slowly lean forward, putting weight onto your front leg while maintaining straight leg and heel-to-floor contact – you should feel a gentle stretch in the upper calf muscle. Hold for 20 seconds and then repeat on the opposite side.
For those who are a bit more fit, try the bird dog. Get down on the floor on all fours and extend your right leg straight back, while extending your opposite left arm forward. Feel the stretch. Then resume on all fours. Repeat several times, and then change sides.
Every day, pay close attention to your daily habits: sitting, standing and sleeping. These can have a big impact on your overall posture. When you are seated, take note of whether your spine and neck are straight and if your shoulders are back. The same goes if you are standing for an extended period of time, such as in a line. Sleeping on your side can help alleviate spine pressure for those who experience it, and sleeping on your back may help those who have sleep apnea. Stomach sleepers, however, may experience neck strain.
If you are still experiencing pain or problems with posture, you can always consult a chiropractor or physical therapist. They can pinpoint the exact problem and offer specific exercises and treatments to help ease any discomfort.
Our posture influences our entire stature: the way we carry ourselves, our core strength and our overall well-being. Don’t ignore any problems that you experience with your posture. When you take good care of posture, you maintain your entire makeup. And all is takes is a few simple exercises.