Hi everybody. Dr. Cobb back with you.
This week, we’re going to talk about posture again.
A couple of weeks ago, I did a blog for you talking about power postures and how those influence hormonal levels in the body. As a result of that, I’ve gotten some questions about “Hey, that was kind of cool, but what are some really basic Z-Health exercises that I can use to help improve my posture because I spend all day trying to become a caveman again sitting at my desk?”
We all know that if you look around any kind of typical office setting, you see a lot of forward heads and a lot of rounded shoulders, so coming up with exercises to help improve that situation isn’t that hard. We basically just want to think about what would be a mirror movement or mirror image of how I find myself all day?
What I want to do today is I want to show you just a couple of exercises. I’m going to show some with the band and then I’m also going to show some that you can just do at your desk or using the doorway of your office and that’s what this is going to emulate here for me. This is a doorway in case you didn’t know that.
Let’s talk about posture. We’re going to do three different exercises. The first exercise we’re going to focus on is the head and neck. Most people when they sit at their desk do this, especially as their fatigue level goes up through the day, we start to resemble chickens. What we want to do is a reverse chicken exercise in essence. If you’ve done some of our movement programs, you know we actually call this anterior/posterior gliding where I’m driving my head forward, but then really, really focusing on getting tall as I pull my head into what’s called cervical retraction.
I’m pulling my head back. It’s really important when we do this that we set the spine. What you’re going to do is stand up, get in a good neutral stance, feet facing forward, bending your knees, shake out any tension. Then I want you to tuck your pelvis a little bit and stand up so that you’re nice and tall. You’re thinking about your spine being pulled up to the ceiling. In this position, you just drive your head forward and then pull back again as you’re lengthening. That’s the basic mobility exercise.
A lot of people have been doing that and have gotten good results, but one way to magnify the results of that is to add some load. That’s what this is for. Hopefully you have available some exercise bands. The way we use this for this particular exercise is I take the band and I put it between my thumb and palm, palms away, wrap it around the back of my head just above my ears. What I typically like to do is bring my hands and join them together in the front like this and then push away. Once I’ve done that, I’m just going to repeat the same exercise, so I’m going to turn on the 45 so you can see.
I’m here. I get into my nice tall posture, let my head go forward, and then lengthen and pull back against resistance. Normally what I have people work on for this particular exercise is somewhere between five and ten reps several times a day. You may find that your neck is really susceptible to getting fatigued if this is something new to you, so make sure that you spend a little bit of time just working on the mobility stuff first and then add the band. Now, if you don’t have the band, your other option, really tough to figure out, use your own hands.
The hard part about this is that as you’re trying to push forward and push back, it gets a little bit confusing for your arms what they’re supposed to be doing. In the beginning, the simplest thing to do is to once again, put your hands here. I like to interlace them to give myself something to push against, drive my chin forward, and then pull back, pull my head back as far as I comfortably can while maintaining that tall spine and then pull forward with my arms and just resist that with my head and neck. This is an isometric exercise.
One repetition of 15 to 30 seconds holding can be awesome for you and it’s something you can do seated at your desk or just standing up quickly throughout the day. It can make a big difference in your head and neck comfort.
Once we’re done with the head and neck, we next want to deal with our chest and backs a little bit.
Like I said, we see this at the desk. The head and neck comes forward. Shoulders roll in. There’s a lot of different reasons for that shoulder rolling in position. I’m not telling you that this exercise is going to fix it completely because we also have to fix your brain in order to fix your posture.
Just reminding the body of where we want to be throughout the day is a tremendous benefit. The simple exercise once again using a band works like this. I put the band around me. I like to have it so that it’s up around my shoulder blades, just underneath my shoulder blades. I’m going to take the band just like I did for the head and neck position and if you look at my whole body, I’m going to step into a lunge position. What I typically do, step forward my left leg, rotate toward my left leg, and then reset my head and neck.
I’m nice and tall in this position. Once again, it’s a lunge, rotate. From here, what I’m going to do is I’m just going to spread the band apart. It’s called a pull apart, pretty simple idea. The goal here is not to use the heaviest band possible, but to actually focus on keeping your elbows relatively straight using the muscles between your shoulder blades to separate the band. I’m not doing this. Arms are straight, nice and tall, muscles between the shoulder blades, at about that pace, you can go a little bit slower if you want, but somewhere around 10 to 15 repetitions and then guess what? You’re going to turn and rotate in the opposite direction.
The little rotations of the spine help us focus on the left side and right side particularly well. Once again, let’s say you don’t have this at work with you. You forgot it. You don’t have them yet.
Another easy way to do this exercise, open the door at your office, step into the door frame, and take your arms, once again, you can get into a little lunge position, you just take your arms, turn them so the palms are facing forward, get into position, and pull your shoulder blades together, making sure that you maintain that nice tall long spine position. This is another isometric exercise just like we did with the head and neck.
Once again our goal would be somewhere between 15 and 30 seconds. Depending on how comfortable that is, I may step forward a little bit so my arms are further back, and do another set or I may step way into my office, change my lunge position, and do another set. Just by stepping forward and back into your doorway, that will allow you to create more or less tension and you’ll feel it in different areas, but again your goal, pull the shoulder blades together while maintaining that nice long spine.
There you have it guys, a couple of different exercises for you to play with this week, fantastic reminders to be done throughout the day.
We always tell people that posture because it’s so habitual for us, we need to remind ourselves what we want to have happen more regularly than twice a week when we hit the gym, so give you these exercises to try.
If you have any questions, let us know.