Fitness Friday No2 - Good posture!
I hear everyone groan and pull their shoulders back! But is good posture really intended to be that hard to maintain? Should it be an effort? Put simply, no! We are perfectly designed to be able to stand comfortably, and sit comfortably, without any strain or pull on our muscles and joints. It is our lifestyle and tension or stress that create the hurdles. So to be able to sit and stand comfortable we have to think beyond our shoulders. A healthy spine is S shaped, we have a gentle curve in our neck, where it dips inward, then in our upper back, thoracic area, it curves slightly out and back inwards at our lower back. When we have bad posture, or occasionally due to mechanical, or functional skeletal problems instead of our spine being S shaped, it is C shaped as everything collapses in a forward slumped position. Therefore, let's think about sitting on our "sit bones" so named for that reason, and be aware of the gentle arch in our lower back. Don't create tension or make it an effort just become aware. If we palpate, feel, our ribs above our stomach, we can Imagine the lower rib cage floating up, to create space in our abdominals. Visualise your breastbone expanding, this automatically allows our shoulders to fall into the correct position, without muscular effort. Take a deep breath into your chest and feel your clavicles, collarbones rise. As you exhale releasing your breath, notice your posture. Your shoulder blades should glide down towards your lower back. This gently works the strong shoulder stabilisers removing the strain from the neck and across the top of the shoulders. You'll feel taller and more grounded. Your abdominals will be engaged and you'll feel strength in your back...... Not tension. It can be challenging to change habits that we have had all our lives. But we can!! Today's culture means we spend most of our time sitting at desks or with laptops, phones, tablets on our laps. Because of these situations it means we are hunched forward and tensing the muscles at the front of our shoulders, our pectorals, our biceps. When we focus on things, we jut our chin forward and the neck and shoulders follow. This creates tension in the base of our skull, causing headaches and jaw pain. As well as neck, shoulder and back pain and stiffness. Therefore, it is good to pause, throughout our day to assess where our shoulders are positioned, do we have tension in our jaw and neck? Are we slumped forward? Are we breathing or holding our breath? Asking these questions helps us to make neurological changes and undo the bad habits we have had for years. We can then alter our patterns and choose to release the tension in our jaw, lift our sternum and lower ribs, allow our scapula, shoulder blades to slide down. Imagine you have weights on your elbows and shoulder blades drawing your shoulders down, which then relaxes the muscles in the upper part of our shoulders. Gradually day by day, if we take a little time we can make those adjustments and release the tension and have much better posture and feel more comfortable. My next Fitness Friday post will be a few stretches showing how we can ease out our shoulders.