My job is a pain in the neck!
My son/daughter is a plain in the neck!
I'm sure we've all said it out of jest or frustration, but it could literally be true! The way we hold our kids and look down at them or sitting a desk on a computer all day can cause some painful postural distortions!
Take a look at yourself in pictures. Do your shoulders round forward? Does your head protrude forward? Does your upper back hunch out? This common postural distortion is often a result of how we spend most of our time. I see it mainly in two populations: 1) people who sit at a desk all day hunched over a computer and 2) in new moms how spend countless hours hunched over feeding and gazing at their new little one ("mom posture" also comes with and anterior pelvic tilt from the way we carry our little ones while standing, but that’s a topic for next week).
Fixing your posture is a great way to look and feel great! Good posture can instantly change your appearance. But, vanity aside, prolonged bad posture can cause headaches, neck and back pain, and sap your energy Typically, rounded shoulders are synonymous with weak upper back and shoulder muscles and tight chest muscles. Here are a few stretches and exercises to help combat this common problem. Try these at least three times a week for 3-4 week and you will find yourself feeling more energetic and more confident!
Doorway Chest Stretch:
Place each arm on opposite sides of the door frame, forearm and palm against the frame. Step through the door only until you feel a good stretch across your chest. Do not go to the point of pain in your shoulder. Hold for 30-45 seconds.
Foam Roller Chest Stretch: (bonus if you have one)
Lay back on the foam roller, with it the long way along your spine. Make sure your head is supported. Let your arms fall to either side. Rotate through a variety of arm positions to find the stretch that feel best for you (see image). If you begin to feel numbness in your hands, back off or prop your arms up with a blanket or pillow. Start with 30s and work your way up to a minute. You can also use a folded blanket in the place of a foam roller.
Upper Back and Shoulder Strengthening:
Band pull apart:
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and tailbone tucked. Hold the band in each hand with your arms out in front of you at 45 angles. Pull the band back so that your arms are straight out to the side, squeeze your shoulder blades together (keep them down, don't hunch). Return to the starting position and a slow and controlled manner. Start with 2 set of 10 reps, and try to work your way up 3 sets.
Scapular Wall Slides:
Stand with your back against the wall, butt touching and feet about a foot from the wall. With your hands above your head press your forearms into the wall. Slowly bend your arms and slide them down the wall, keeping your forearms pressed into the wall and squeezing your shoulder blades together. End in the shape of a "W" then slowly move back up. If you can't keep your arms pressed against the wall throughout the movement, its ok. Just think about trying to; after a few weeks of the stretches you will get a lot closer!