Hi everybody. Dr Eric Cobb back with you. This week, we're going to talk about a surprising way to work on posture. One of the things that we run into throughout our day ... Almost every client we see is kind of reverting back into caveman posture. We spend all of our day sitting in a chair, crouched over in front of a computer and by the end of the day, you're rounded forward. A lot of people in the Z-Health community spend a lot of time working on that because poor posture has ramifications throughout the body. It affects your movement. It affects your brain. It affects everything.
Whenever we spend time mobilizing the neck and mobilizing the mid-back and doing all the other work that we do, we see great results, but there's kind of a unique way to also approach working on posture that focuses more on breathing than on some of the basic mobility exercises. I want to share with your one really key exercise for you that you can begin practicing this week. I want you to pay attention to: number one how it makes you feel, in terms of your energy level, your ability to take in a nice deep breath of air and number 2 does it make your upper back and neck feel more flexible and more mobile. That's the goal here: better breathing, better energy, better movement.
The exercise is actually a diaphragm stretch. The diaphragm is the big muscle that helps you inhale and exhale. What happens when I take a breath in and the diaphragm contracts, it actually moves down into my stomach. It actually depresses or goes downward when I breathe in. What I want to do to actually stretch that muscle is not to take a deep breath in, but to take a deep breath out, so a huge deep exhale. I'm going to show you how to do that.
We're going to first of all do a graded variation. We're going to start off with an easy version and then I'm going to show you the more advanced version. I want you to go carefully with this because when you do it correctly, it can be very intense. Some people even get cramps in the little muscles in between the rib cage or back behind the shoulder blade. If you start to feel anything like that, stop immediately, but we're going to do this first of all lying on the ground. You can do this exercise standing up, but the easiest place to do it, or learn it, is on the ground.
If you have a little bit of space, I want you to come down on the floor with me and you're going to lay on your back. When you're laying on your back, what we're going to do is we're going to bend our knees, keep our feet on the floor and we're going to tuck the pelvis, so that our low back is flat. We're going to do something really simple. We're going to take a deep breath in, let our abdomen fill up with air, and then we're going to exhale.
When we exhale, there are 2 important components: number one, you're going to keep your throat as open as possible and mouth open; number 2, you're going to exhale not just most of your air, but all of your air. You're going to try and exhale really really hard because when you do this correctly, you're going to feel a strong stretching sensation, kind of deep through your rib cage and even maybe in the front of your spine. It sounds a little bit weird, but when you do it correctly, you'll be able to feel it.
Let me demonstrate. Notice the sound that I make as well. Laying on my back. I'm going to tuck my pelvis, so that my low back stays flat on the floor. I'm going to relax my head down and I'm going to take a deep breath in. Open throat, open mouth, exhale. When I do that ... If you were listening, you probably could pick it up on the microphone ... A slight wheeze at the end. You're actually trying to, as I said, blow out all of your air really really forcefully and feel this strange stretching contraction through your abdomen and through your bent back. That's version one. You want to do 2 or 3 repetitions of that. Try it for about a week before you go onto the advanced variation.
The advanced variation is the same exact exercise, only this time, you're going to do the same basic set up then you're going to take your arms and you're going to reach over your head. If possible, let your hand rest on the floor, so everything is comfortable. Then you're going to repeat the same exercise. I'm going to keep this hand down, this one up. There's my full exhale.
Notice that takes a little bit of time. After you've done 2 or 3 repetitions, I'm going to have you either come back to a kneeling position or a standing position, take a couple of deep breaths in and out. Notice how much air you can actually take in. As I said, if you notice some tension or stiffness in your mid back or neck, re-test them now. There's a super high likelihood that they're going to be better.
Last little component of this. If you make this a regular part of your practice, this may be one of the most powerful postural retraining exercises that you do. When you combine that with other Z-Health drills from the mobility program that we teach, it's really kind of a match made in heaven for taking you out of caveman posture into a nice healthy upright elegant posture, which we believe has a huge correlation to the many different factors of health.
That's the blog for this week. I hope that you enjoyed it. Please let us know if you have any questions at all and how we can help. Thanks.