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4 Simple Exercises to Improve Your Posture (and Combat the Effects of Sitting!)

By Dr. Brent Whitley on Jun 12, 2016

Most new jobs nowadays seem to involve computers and smart phones. If you're starting your own business you're probably spending plenty of time in front of the computer or phone, no matter what the industry, as you plan and market and get your business off the ground.

This means that you are in a head-forward posture much of the time.

I see hundreds of people every day, on the street, at the store, and in my office, with their chins all the way down to their necks staring at these devices.

This is the absolute worst position for your spine. 

Your spine is the covering of your central nervous system, which is the communication system of your body. Good health occurs when all of your trillions of cells are communicating and working together, and that is possible when your posture is good, when your spine is in proper alignment.  

There are really no exceptions here. You might be generally well, but you'll never be at your optimum health if your posture is weak.

Good posture can be described as balance in the hips and shoulders, with your "head on straight." If you look at someone from the side, the ear should be directly above the shoulder, then hip, then knee, then ankle, with a gentle forward curve in the neck and low back. 

This can be difficult to maintain when you are sitting all day or have your head down to look at the phone or computer.

Most of the symptoms are felt in the transition area where one curve changes to the next. These would include the base of skull, shoulders, middle back where the ribs end, and low back by the belt. There are some basic exercises and stretches you can do, even right there at your desk or in the office, that can help a lot. Let’s start at the top and work down.

The cervical curve, which begins at the base of the skull, is the most important and most difficult to maintain at a desk or when using a smart phone. To help, practice...

Neck Circles

Stand tall and imagine a pencil sticking up out of the crown of your head. From there, start drawing little circles on the ceiling, gently spiraling outward so your circles get bigger and bigger. Take your time, focusing especially on the point where you're tilting your head back and lifting your chin up to open up the front of the neck. Spiral back in toward the center, then repeat in the other direction.

For those sore shoulders and a tight upper back...

Wall Angels

Stand with your back against a wall. Bring your hands to the wall by your side and then imagine you're making snow angels by inhaling your arms up overhead and exhaling them back down. This reactivates postural muscles and stretches out the chest and throat muscles that shorten from having your head in a forward position. They also make it easier to breathe. Do 10 repetitions several times a day, especially after a prolonged period of time spent with your head forward.

For the mid and lower back...

Superman

Lie on your belly with your arms resting under your forehead. Lift one leg, then the other leg. Do 10 on each side. Then keep your legs down and lift your upper body 10 times, moving slowly, with control, and breathing all the time.

Finally, for the belt line...

Leg Circles

Lie on your side with your head resting on your bicep or in your hand. Do 10 clockwise circles and 10 counter-clockwise circles with the top leg. Start small and keep them controlled so that the rest of your body is mostly still (rather than leaning jerkily forward and backward). Then place the top foot on the floor in front of your bottom leg, and do 10 circles in each direction with the bottom leg. Repeat on the other side.

These simple exercises, along with chiropractic care and yoga, can help keep your body functioning optimally even after long days at a desk. 

 

About Dr. Brent Whitley

Dr. Brent Whitley graduated from Life University, and has been practicing the art, science, and philosophy of chiropractic in numerous countries around the world ever since. He currently lives and practices in Medellín, Colombia. Stay connected with him on Facebook.

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