Let’s presume you exercise four times a week. You focus on proper form and injury-prevention while doing resistance and weight training. Let’s also suppose you spend most of your days sitting. Do you actively ensure your form and posture are correct?
Chances are you’ve let the importance of good posture fall by the wayside, which is unfortunate, considering this prevents long-term health problems such as joint pain. An improper form also jeopardizes further progress in building muscle mass.
Re-inforcing proper form isn’t difficult even if you’re used to slouching. Focus on bringing awareness to your position throughout the day and try the following exercise routine to lengthen and release the tension you carry in your muscles daily that cause you to tense-up.
First and foremost, take a front and side picture of yourself standing up straight, but relaxed. Evaluate the following:
Head tilting forward
What: This is an indication of a stiff upper back and neck.
How: Release some of the tension with neck rolls, lowering your head forward toward your chin, before rolling in a counterclockwise position all the way around. Repeat this twice before moving your head and neck the opposite way. If you’re often straining in front of the screen, pull your head forward toward your chin several times a day and hold the position.
What: Weak upper back muscles and contracted pecs.
How: For short term relief and alignment, invest a few minutes in upper back stretches such as back bound hand pose. For a long term fix, focus on upper back exercises that target your trapezius muscles. Pilates move Letter ‘T’ is an excellent exercise that requires no equipment. Simply lay down on your stomach, pulling your navel into your spine and raise your arms toward the ceiling while squeezing your back muscles. In the gym, you can perform reverse dumbbell flys or get on the rowing machine.
Anterior Pelvic Tilt
What: Weak glutes and tight hip flexors cause hips to tilt forward
How: Perform a kneeling hip flexor stretch by lowering into a lunge, dropping your back knee to the floor and straightening up by pushing off your front bent knee with your hands. You will feel the front of your hip stretch. To strengthen the muscles, consider performing bridges regularly.
What: You’re suffering from tight outer-thighs and weak glutes
How: You can ease the tension by standing up with crossed legs and leaning to the side until you feel the stretch. Using a foam roller releases some more tension if you have access to it. To strengthen the area and build on better posture, perform the side-lying clamshell exercise. Lay on your side, knees bent and in front of you. Lift your upper knee up while keeping your ankles stacked and touching. Lower and repeat.
What: Your hips and obliques are weak
How: Swiss-Ball Jackknife is an excellent way to train your hips and your core. Roll out on a Swiss ball and get into a plank position with your shins resting on top of the ball. Pull your knees up to your chest, bringing the ball to top, then roll back out to a plank.
To amp your routine, consider investing an extra few minutes in core exercises such as pilates roll-ups, superman, and the all-encompassing plank. The complete focus on the abs, obliques, and lower back stabilizes your torso and provides extra support for your spine.
Feature Image : Richard Burbridge for AnOther magazine