How To Improve Your Posture
A head forward posture should give you a clue whether you need to improve your posture. With the ubiquitous use of mobile phones, tablets and computers, most of us nowadays spend hours at a time seated or with our heads forward looking over our very loved electronic devices. This results in poor posture, head forward, rounded shoulders, slumped back and believe it or not, this leads to faster degeneration of our spines.
More and more we see younger people in our Pilates studio with back and neck problems, with injuries to the shoulder, neck and lower back as a result of wear and tear. Poor posture leads to compression of the spinal segments and incorrect shoulder biomechanics.
Here are some tips on How To Improve Your Posture:
- If you sit still for long periods of time, take breaks to move your upper back. Put your hands behind your head, open your elbows and turn slowly to the right and then to the left. Then side bend keeping your elbows open.
- Perform some exercises (below) at our workstation every 3- minutes.
- Incorporate daily (prone) exercises at home for 5 minutes every day. (below)
- Spot check yourself throughout the day
Pilates exercises are great tools to help you improve your posture. Especially those exercises that strengthen and mobilise your upper back. Specifically speaking, the better your upper back moves and the stronger your upper back extensor muscles are, the better posture you can achieve.
Follow these simple Exercises at Home:
- Put your bent elbows by your sides (at 90 degrees), thumbs facing back, then keeping your elbows tight to your ribcage reach your thumbs back as far as you can, squeezing your shoulders together. At the same time lift your chest and hold this position for 20 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
- Progression: Open your arms long to the side, palms facing up. Lift your chest and turn as far right as possible and hold 3 seconds. Return and do the other side.
- (Prone) Lye down on your front with your arms by your side. Open your shoulders, and hover your head, shoulders and arms over the floor and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Palms face down throughout. Keep your gaze down with a neutral neck alignment. (as if you are holding a peach between your chin and your chest). Hold for 10 seconds. Target muscles: Erector spine, Scapular retractors, neck flexors and extensors.
Ideally you want to be incorporating the following exercises in your Pilates class:
- Upper back extensions, thoracic rotations and side bending movements targeting your upper back.
- Upper back extensions with rotations, as in rotation prone on the stability chair or barrels.
- Spinal articulations from flexion into extension
- Side bending keeping true to a coronal plane without introducing flexion are difficult for those with pronounced thoracic kyphosis.
- Breast stroke preparations to strengthen scapular retractors
But how To Improve Your Posture when you work at a desk all day and spend hours tying or texting?
Body awareness and lifestyle modifications are just as important as any postural exercises. Taking breaks from texting or sitting in front of a computer or desk are likely crucial modifications for anyone trying to improve their posture. Spot check yourself every so often. Is your head in front of your shoulders?
Try our Pilates classes. The Pilates classical repertoire includes numerous postural exercises to help you achieve your ideal posture.