Welcome to the 21st century where you sit all day, staring down at your computer and phone while slowly turning into the Hunchback of the Office Chair.
We all know it, and there’s no hiding it. Our posture sucks. The great thing about our bodies though is our muscles control our bones and our brains control our muscles. Meaning, you can get yourself out of bad posture with a few simple exercises.
The Power of Reciprocal Inhibition
When a muscle on one side of a joint contracts, the muscle on the other side relaxes. This is called reciprocal inhibition. You can’t fully contract your biceps and your triceps at the same time, but you can try for a while if you want. This process is important to understand when trying to correct any muscle imbalance or movement disfunction. If we have a muscle that is “tight” on one side of the joint, then we have a muscle on the other side of the joint that’s not quite activating the way it should.
We can apply this knowledge to your hunched over posture. If you are rounded forwarded with your shoulders internally rotated, we need to get the anterior (front) side to shut off, and the posterior (back) side to turn on. Once we’ve done that, we can perform exercises that reintegrate the desired movement patterns, so your brain starts to relearn the correct muscle balance.
Let’s start with the muscles you need to release. The big culprits here are the chest and abdominal muscles. They get into a slightly contracted state and then get “stuck” there.
Once you’ve worked on shutting off the over-active muscle groups, we need to work on activating the muscles that aren’t firing correctly. The main groups here are the muscles of your upper back and posterior shoulder.
Activate upper back
Activate rear delts
After addressing all the muscles that are out of balance, we can integrate movement patterns that reinforce the desired contractions.
Towel combo press
Squat to 'Y' press
Poor posture can have negative side affects ranging from physical to emotional, but it doesn’t have to be a lasting problem. Using this continuum, you can begin to address your hunched posture and clear up some of the muscle imbalances and pain that result from it. Begin doing these exercises daily and not only will they improve your posture, but they will help you become more aware when your posture starts to fail throughout the day.
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