Poor posture can affect your entire body! Most people who have a job that revolves around a desk complain of pain in the lower back, shoulders, hips, legs, head and neck – the whole body! Poor posture can also cause poor circulation, inconsistencies in breathing, fatigue and can negatively affect the muscles and bones. All of these strains can change and limit your range of motion. Luckily there are ways to improve your posture to help counteract all of this pain!
First lets talk about proper posture
When sitting –
- Keep your head straight rather than tilted down. If your head is tilted down often, take a break ever 15-30 minute to do a few head and neck circles or treats yourself to a self-shoulder massage.
- Keep your shoulders back and down. Try to let your shoulders relax down your spine. This will help keep unwanted tension out of your shoulders.
- Sit with your knees slightly lower than your hips. Most office chairs have a height adjustment, so this should be an easy fix.
- Keep your feet flat on the floor. Most people, especially women have a tendency to cross their legs when sitting. While this may be comfortable in the moment, it causes our weight to be unevenly distributed. Instead, plant your feet firmly on the floor directly under your knees.
When Standing –
- Keep your shoulders back and down, aligned with the spine.
- Use your stomach muscles to keep your body straight.
- Slightly bend your knees to ease pressure.
- Wear good quality shoes with proper arch support for your foot type.
One of the best ways to counteract the negative effects of poor posture is some good quality stretching! Below, I have added a few simple yoga postures that are easy to perform at home. Try these poses nightly, after a long day of sitting or standing and see if they help ease any pain. It is also helpful to begin a regular exercise or yoga routine to help build muscles in the core, back and legs. Adding basic core exercise to this stretching routine will help greatly!
Preform these postures at home nightly. Remember to breath through each movement!
Coming to your knees, bring them wider than hips width apart, keep big toes touching. Hinging at the hips and walk your fingertips forward. Once you come all the way down to the floor, bring your arms shoulder width apart and rest your forehead on the floor between your arms. Keep your shoulders away from your ears by drawing them down your spine. Allow your buttock to rest on your heels (if you don’t have the hip mobility for this, separate your feet and slide a large pillow under your body, between your legs and rest your body on the pillow). Remain here in stillness for 8-10 breaths.
From Childs Pose slide your right hand under your chest and left arm pit, bringing it to stick out from the left side body. Turn your right palm to face to sky and turn your right cheek and temple to rest on the mat. Relax here for 3 to 6 breaths. To release exhale the right arm back to Childs Pose and repeat on the other side.
Come to a comfortable seated position on the floor. Place your right palm on the floor next to your right hip. Inhale as your raise your left arm overhead beside your left year. As you exhale, take a slight bend in the right elbow and hinge at the right hip as you take a side bend to the right, letting your head, torso and left arm follow you as you bend to the right. Try to keep your buttocks on the floor as you bend. On your next inhale, return to an upright position. Repeat on the other side.
- Butterfly with Fold –
Come to a seated position on your mat (if you have tight hips, sit on a folded blanket).
a. Pull your heels towards your pelvis as you bring the soles of your feet to touch, allow your knees to fall open to the sides. Inhale as you begin to focus on your posture – sit tall through the spine, lengthening through the crown of the head. Allow your shoulders to relax back and down.
b. As you exhale slowly begin to hinge at the hips and fold forward bringing your chest closer to the mat, as you do this begin to walk tour finger tips long in front of you toward the front edge of your mat.
- Cow/Cat– Come to all fours in “tabletop” position. Bring your shoulders, elbows and wrists to stack in one long line & keep your knees directly under your hips. Center your head in a neutral position with your gaze at the floor.
- a. As you inhale, lift your tail bone and chest towards the ceiling and allow your belly to sing toward the floor. Lift your head to look straight forward – This is Cow Pose.
b. As you exhale, begin to move into Cat Pose, round your spine toward the ceiling and release your chin to your chest.
Repeat these poses together for 4-6 inhales (Cow Pose) and exhales (Cat Pose).
- Mt. Poses/Upward Standing Back Bend and Wide Legged Forward Fold – Stand with your shoulders stacking over your hips. Allow your shoulders to relax back and down. Bringing your feet hips width apart. Feel your feet plant into the ground, keep your weight out of the balls of your feet and toes. Slightly tuck your tailbone, engage your core & thighs. Try not to let your chin extend forward, instead keep the crown of your head lengthening up as a straight extension of your spine. You can keep your eyes open, or close them for more of a challenge.
a. From here take ahold of a strap or a rolled towel. Bring each end of the strap/towel slightly wider than shoulders width apart. Keeping feet hips width apart, inhale as you bring the strap/towel overhead and slightly back. Open up your chest as you draw your shoulders back and down and create a light backbend in the upper back, taking a slight Upward Standing Backbend.
b. On your next exhale, hinge at the hips and begin to fold forward. As you do this keep your spine straight and lead with your chest, also keep a slight bend in the knees. You can keep the strap in your hands, allowing the strap to stay shoulders width apart, even in your forward fold, this will further open your chest or your can release your strap and tuck each thumb into opposite elbow creases, coming into a Wide Legged Forward Fold.
A big thank you to Author, Nat from All Good Things, Loudonville and Saratoga locations