Dr. Jessica Robinson, DPT
Olympus Movement Performance
I know, I know, we’ve all heard this a million times, but it’s an important one. I’m guilty of it too when sitting in front of the computer or in one position for too long. We end up in that classic slumped posture with excessive rounding of our upper back, forward shoulders, and extended neck. However, good posture and the ability to find good posture is the foundation for all movements.
*This is not to say that you have to be in perfect posture all the time. We should be moving throughout many postures during the day. The trouble usually comes when we get suck in one position for an extended period of time. The bigger question here is are you able to find your correct postural alignment, and can your body/muscles maintain that alignment for a period of time.
First, to find your good postural alignment, I usually say tuck your chin all the way back, squeeze your shoulders and push your chest all the way forward, and really arch your low back (this should feel very weird or uncomfortable). Then back off of this about 10%.
Next, let’s talk about desk set up/ergonomics. Adjust your chair height so that your knees are about level with your hips. Feet should be flat on the floor (or on a foot rest) and knees bent to approximately 90 degrees or a little less. Elbows should be bent to approximately 90 degrees, and wrists should be straight with your hands at or just below the level of your elbows. Your computer monitor should be placed about an arm’s length away from you with the top of the monitor about eye level so you can just use your eyes to scan down.
Alright, let’s get moving and get you out of that prolonged positioning! Mobility and strengthening for better posture tend to focus on opening up the chest and front of your body while strengthening the upper back, posterior shoulder muscles, and neck. While there are many variations and ways to stretch these muscles/muscle groups, here are a few mobility exercises I like to use.
Now that we have found our good postural alignment and mobilized commonly tight regions, we will focus on some strength training to make sure those changes last. If we are doing nothing to create a good support system, we will just return to our old tendencies/habits. Our bodies are made to be efficient and will always choose the path of least resistance. This is why strengthening is so important.
As before, there are a million exercises you can do to strengthen these muscles, but I’ve given you a few of my favorites here that can be modified and really performed mostly anywhere with minimal equipment.
These exercises focus on strengthening the upper back and posterior shoulder muscles (with the exception of the chin tuck) to again open up the chest and support the shoulders and spine. With the chin tuck, we are lengthening the neck extensors (back side) and strengthening the neck flexors (front side) to bring the neck into a better position.
Try these out, and see how they feel. Remember to take breaks throughout the day. Here’s a quick tip if you frequently sit or stand in one position for an extended period and like me tend to lose track of time à set a timer for yourself (every ½ hour, hour, etc.). When it goes off, check your posture and get up and move a little.
If you have any questions, feel free to call or schedule a discovery session. You know where to find us. J
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