Common Posture Mistakes -- And How To Fix Them
Many of us make mistakes in the way we work, drive, sit and stand that cause back pain and negatively impact our posture. More often than not, according to Scott Danberg, director of fitness at Pritikin Longevity Center And Spa, these posture mistakes are due to weak muscles that don't support us well, stemming from inactive lifestyles. "Exercise restores muscular strength and balances and influences greater range of motion of joints, which are all fundamental for improved posture," he says. He has outlined these exercises to combat common weak spots.
Not sure if you are a victim of poor posture? Danberg suggests taking a photo of yourself in front of something with vertical lines, like wallpaper or a fence. Check to ensure you're aligning with the straight lines, and take photos from multiple angles to get a full sense of your posture. Retake the photos after a few weeks of trying the exercises Danberg recommends below to see the progress you're making.
Head And Neck Posture
Your head and neck are often out of balance and alignment. The result, says Danberg, is that the muscles tend to either be too short or too long.
Many hours of sitting at a desk, hunching over a computer and driving can cause overly rounded shoulders, explains Danberg. If your chest and upper back muscles are weak, the shoulder blades tend to round, causing this problem.
Fix Neck, Shoulder And Upper Body Posture
"Without exercise, muscles weaken, lengthen and shorten in response to poor body alignments," says Danberg. To build strength in the upper body to reduce posture issues in these areas, try these moves: 1. <strong>Back rows</strong>: Bend over into a row position and pull either bands, free weights or a weight machine up, clenching your shoulder blades close together as you go. 2. <strong>Straight arm extensions: </strong>Start with your arm in a curl position, holding on to a cable machine or bands. Pull straight down until your arm is fully extended. 3. <strong>Back flys:</strong> Gripping on to a cable machine or bands, extend your arms into a wing span position. 4. <strong>Shoulder external rotation:</strong> Hold on toa cable machine or bands in one hand, with your arm crossing your body. Rotate the arm out so that it is at a 90-degree angle from your body, and then switch sides.
"Without a trained core area -- including the abdominals, lower back, gluteus, and hips -- the pelvis has a tendency to tilt forward, exaggerating the sway back of the lower back," says Danberg. This can create the kind of poor posture that contributes to lower back pain.
Fix Core Posture
You can do all the exercises to improve core posture with nothing but your own bodyweight, no equipment needed. Try these moves: 1. <strong>Pelvic tilt:</strong> Lay with your back on the ground and your feet flat on the floor, knees bent. Gradually thrust your pelvis forward. A good explanation <a href="http://yoga.about.com/od/yogaandbackpain/ss/pelvictilts.htm" target="_hplink">can be found here</a>. 2. <strong>Pelvic tilt with straight leg raise:</strong> Add in extending your leg straight out and raising it as you perform the pelvic tilt. 3. <strong>Pelvic tilt with straight leg raise and straight arm raise:</strong> Add arms as well. 4. <strong>Leg extension:</strong> Sit on the edge of a chair with your knees bent. Straighten your right leg, raise it up, and then repeat on the left. This can also be done standing. 5. <strong>Bridging:</strong> Begin in the pelvic tilt position, but this time raise your glutes all the way off the floor, coming up to your shoulder blades if you can. Hold. 6. <strong>Abdominal crunch:</strong> The standard or on a Swiss ball will work here.