Devote 10 minutes a day to better posture
Time spent hunched over gadgets can affect your back and cause pain
IT is estimated that more than 80 per cent of the population will suffer from back pain during their lifetime.
With the increase of high tech gadgets in today’s world, it is no surprise to see that number rise dramatically. The poor posture we demonstrate while we text and use our laptops plays a key role. Common muscles that become overactive or short include the upper trapezius, latissimus dorsi, thoracic spine and pectoral muscles. When these muscles become tight, they alter our posture, leading to typical symptoms such as rounded shoulders and scapular winging.
To correct these muscle imbalances, we need a four-step approach.
- Step 1: Inhibit overactive or short muscles
Muscle/Area: Thoracic spine
Lie on the floor with a foam roll behind your upper back. Interlock your hands behind your head to prevent it from tilting back. Raise your hips off the floor; hold tender area for 30 seconds.
Muscle/Area: Latissimus dorsi
Lie on your side with the arm on the floor extended overhead and thumb pointing up. Place a foam roll under your armpit. Slowly move back and forth; hold tender area for 30 seconds. Repeat on opposite side.
- Step 2: Lengthen overactive or short muscles
Muscle/Area: Back of neck stretch
Stand with your feet straight and shoulder-width apart, knees slightly flexed. Place your arm behind your body and lower shoulder.
Tuck your chin and lower your ear to your shoulder using the opposite hand until a stretch is felt in the back of your neck. Rotate your chin down toward opposite chest muscles. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on opposite side.
Stand with your forearm in a vertical position on a stable object, your elbow and shoulder bent at a 90-degree angle. Place your feet in a stagger stance position. Your back leg is the same side as the chest muscle being stretched.
Slowly shift your weight forward until a stretch is felt in front of your shoulder and chest. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on opposite side.
Muscle/Area: Latissimus dorsi
Kneel with one arm on the front of a chair or stability ball, your thumb pointed up, with your other hand on the ground. Lower your hips toward your heels until a stretch is felt alongside your torso and into the lower back. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on opposite side.
- Step 3: Strengthen the right muscles
After we have inhibited (relaxed) and lengthened our overactive muscles, we need to activate or strengthen our weak muscles.
Muscle/Area: Lower and middle traps, rhomboids
Lie with your belly on a stability ball, legs and feet extended. Draw-in your belly button and hold a dumbbell in each hand.Squeeze your butt muscles and lift your chest off the ball. Do not arch your back or jut your neck forward. Extend your arms in front of your body.
Lift your arms in front of your body at a 45-degree angle, thumbs up (scaption). Hold for two seconds.
Move your arms straight out to the side, thumbs up. Hold for two seconds.
Move your arms to the side of your body, thumbs up (cobra). Do not shrug your shoulders. Hold for two seconds. Return to the start position. Repeat for 10-15 reps.
- Step 4: Integrate
We need to connect the muscles that we have activated or strengthened to our whole body, making it a functional movement. This last step is key in putting it all together so we can be strong in everyday movements.
Muscle/Area: Lower traps (and balance!)
Stand on one leg, your base leg slightly bent, and your other leg slightly in front with the toe pointing up. Draw-in your belly button. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, your arms at the side of your body. Raise both arms up at 45-degree angle (like a Y), your palms facing in to shoulder level. Do not shrug your shoulders or arch your back.
Hold. Return your arms to the side of your body. Repeat for 10-15 reps.
Bijan Jiany is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, functional movement systems expert, performance enhancement specialist, corrective exercise specialist, and author of Reach For It! Master the Essential Sports Skills for Youth. He owns Coach Bijan Conditioning, located in West Vancouver. For more information, call his office at 604-512-1306 or visit his website, coachbijan.com.