Nowadays, improving posture is a constant struggle; so much of our time is spent hunched over laptops, books or cell phones, and we must mindfully realign ourselves throughout the day. Not only does the conditioned shoulder-hunch look painful, but according to the U.S. Bone and Joint Initiative, musculoskeletal back pain is a major cause of disability for Americans. In fact, a whopping 1 in 4 adults suffer from chronic low back pain. It’s important to take time out of your schedule to reverse that hunch and work on your posture. Use these five exercises to strengthen the muscles around your spine, and relieve some of the pain you might be feeling.
Grab a resistance band on both ends, and step onto the middle of the band. Turn your palms facing backward, and open your shoulders. As you inhale, press the band behind you, and rotate your head over your right shoulder, back to center, and then over your left shoulder. Breathe and relax your arms, keeping your chest open. Repeat the exercises four to eight times on each side.
Time to hit the bedroom floor with this chest-opening stretch. Lie face down with your arms by your sides. Place your palms on the floor. Keep your neck in a neutral position and pinch your shoulder blades together, lifting your chest off the floor. Release and breathe. Repeat the exercise four to eight times.
Back bound hand stretch
Can’t lie on the floor comfortably? All you need are your hands for this one. Seated or standing, rotate your shoulders back towards your spine. Bring both arms and hands behind you; grab your right elbow with your left hand, and your left elbow with your right hand. Inhale, and lift your chest, pressing your shoulder blades down your back. After three to five deep breaths, switch sides by grabbing your left elbow with your right hand and your right elbow with your left hand. Repeat three to five times.
Kick your hunched shoulders out the door with this relieving and realigning exercise. Standing in a doorway, lift your arm and bend at the elbow, creating a right angle. Press your forearm against the doorjamb. Lean into your arm, pushing against the doorjamb, and hold for 10 seconds. Relax, and press again. Repeat the stretch two to three times on each side.
Shoulder blade squeeze
This simple stretch is one you can do anywhere, at any time. It’ll strengthen your shoulder blade muscles and make you more aware of your posture. Sit up tall, be mindful of your posture, and squeeze both shoulder blades together. Hold for 10 seconds, and repeat three to four times.
As with any physical activity, be sure to listen to your body and discontinue the exercise if something doesn’t feel right. Refer to the resources below if you need help with proper form.