When a lot of people think of exercise they will often times think of those people who are drenched in sweat, trying to catch their breath, and throwing a ton of weight around. With this said, it is becoming more popular for people to use exercise for corrective reasons. Most jobs will have effects on posture and with time, bad posture can create body pain and sometimes asymmetries in physiques. Even going to the gym and lifting with bad form will cause things like pain and can lead to bad posture.
If you’re trying to keep pain free and the best posture you can then add these tips and exercises to your program:
Sitting all day is pretty typical for a nine to five job and paired with tight muscles this is going to wreck your posture. Proper sitting posture will have you sitting upright looking straight ahead with your feet flat on the floor. There should be little, if any, rounding of the back. There can be a lot of pain associated with sitting all day, and it is usually from tight and inactive hamstrings and glutes and the rounding of the lower back mentioned earlier. If your boss allows for you to get up from your desk every so often, then take advantage by trying these fairly simple exercises.
With slouching, you’ll probably notice that your head will sit extended forward and will put a lot of weight on your upper spine. To help correct this, focus on doing the opposite. Tuck your chin slightly and try to make as many “double chins” as possible. Doing this will help strengthen the muscles in your neck and help pull your head backward in a more neutral position.
Probably the best thing for anyone who is sedentary a majority of the time, getting up and walking helps blood get going through the body and walking with exaggerated posture should translate to when you’re sitting.
Concentration Hamstring Curls
This is an odd but affective exercise for inactive hamstrings and an added bonus, it’ll help teach you to focus on the muscles for when you’re at the gym. This is all “Body Weight” so you won’t need any exercise equipment, but if you have resistance bands, even better. To perform the exercise, stand on one leg and concentrate on bringing your heel to your butt as slow as possible. To add the resistance bands just wrap one end around your ankle and the other around a stable and heavy object.
Another simple body weight exercise, scapular pushups are really the first step to a “perfect pushup” and knowing how to do these will help overall shoulder health. These can be done standing against a wall, on the floor, on a Bosu ball, and really anywhere that you can do regular pushups. In either push up or plank (on your elbows) position, let your chest sink through your shoulders, then push through the floor with your arms straight. It may sound a little odd, but here’s a video to give you a better idea of how to do them.
For this one, get on all fours on the floor with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Keeping your hips and shoulders level, slowly raise your left arm forward and your right leg back toward the floor, imagine you’re trying to put your footprint on the wall behind you. Hold this for a few seconds and repeat for the other sides. When performing the bird dog exercise, keep your core tight and your body long. This will help shoulder mobility, aligns stabilizing back muscles, and can strengthen the hips.
Often times body pain can be from soreness or asymmetries from muscle tightness, one side of the body is pulling/pushing harder than the other. This can be alleviated with simple things like foam rollers, stretching unilaterally, and using massage balls for trigger point. You can also help the pain by strengthening the weak muscles with weight training with single arm/leg movements. Improper form will be a big culprit for body pain, so focusing on a neutral or straight spine and keeping your shoulders pulled back and down will keep from injury and will prolong spinal health.
With time, exercise is starting to be used for more than just getting in shape. Physical therapists are using it for rehab and it is starting to be used for prehab, which is to help prevent injuries from occurring in the first place.