Your muscles are intensively trained to hold daily work postures. Depending on what you are spending most of your time doing you will often end up with imbalance in some muscles that leads to poor posture this will create muscle fatigue, pain and stiffness. This is especially true if a large portion of your day is spent sitting.
Follow the simple but very effective steps below to break up the sitting habit and/or help you to stand effectively when you are uncomfortable with prolonged standing.
To begin with it you might find it difficult to hold for long and you may find that you immediately switch back to your favoured comfortable posture. If you become posture aware often you will begin to find it easier to hold as your body learns a new neuromuscular pattern. So if you are sitting at a desk get up every 20 minutes, if you are waiting for the train, even when out and walking have an awareness of your posture.
In my opinion this is one of the simplest but effective exercises you can do for your spinal health.
1. Standing, be aware that you are weight bearing evenly in both feet.
2. Arms by your side. Rotate your arm so that your little finger rests by your thigh, elbow and wrist creases face outward.
Be aware of your chest opening and the muscles on your back drawing your shoulder blades down and back. You are not jamming your shoulder blades together. Visualise that you are carrying two heavy buckets; imagine the weight of this pulling your shoulders down from your ears. This will wake up the muscles below your shoulder blades.
3. You may feel that you are beginning to arch into your lower back as you widen your chest. Now draw your tummy button toward your spine. Not by sucking your stomach in and holding your breathe, but by engaging your lower abdominal muscles and also connect your rib cage down toward your pelvis. If it helps you can soften your knees.
4. Gently draw your chin toward your chest, by lengthening the back of your neck. Keep looking straightforward don’t move your head up and down, but instead straight back.
If it feels too tense to hold this posture, take it to its extreme hold first then soften into it. It should feel comfortable and easy to breathe, take a few breaths…Think happy thoughts!
Hold for as long as you want, repeat as often as you can remember to. Gradually it will feel less unnatural and with effort you can train yourself back to better posture.
With thanks to Emma for being my beautiful model in these photographs. I can highly recommend Emma as a Pilates teacher in Epsom.
You can find her on Facebook.