Do you ever find yourself slouching in your chair, especially after a long day at the office? As many Americans sit for long stretches at office jobs, and as COVID-19 has made many of us more sedentary, you may find your posture a bit lacking.
Your posture is the way you hold your body upright while sitting or standing. It is typically defined by a “neutral spine,” where standing up straight allows the natural curves in your spine to be clearly visible. When in this position, you will generally experience less aches and pains and can work for longer periods of time without discomfort, whether sitting down or standing up.
These three curves in your spine are:
- Cervical, curved inwards at the base of your neck.
- Thoracic, the gentle, outward sweeping curve of your back.
- Lumbar, the slight inward curve at the bottom of your back.
Maintaining good posture is critically important for your physical health, and will improve your strength, range of motion, and overall comfort. While it can be a sign of spinal issues, most bad posture is just due to low core strength, or strength in your torso and middle body.
There are some basic exercises you can do at home to improve your core strength and posture!
Cervical retraction can really help you strengthen your neck muscles that get so much work leaning over at your desk all day. Most of the time, cervical retraction is done while you sit tall in your chair. You gently tuck your chin down toward your neck but don’t jam your chin in! Then while keeping your chin where it is, press your head back and remember, this is a diagonal direction. Think as though you are moving your head both backwards and up toward the ceiling. Feel the stretch at the back of your neck. Relax and repeat.
This exercise has a goofy name but great benefits. Get on your hands and knees and inhale. Why inhaling, drop your abdomen down slowly and raise your head to look forward. Then reverse it: arch your back like a cat and bring your head down slowly. This exercise is great for your neck.
Animals must really know how to relax, huh? Bird dog is sort of like a mini plank. Start on your hands and knees, similar to cat cow. Reach your right arm forward, palmed turned inward so that your thumb faces the ceiling. While holding that pose, lift your left leg up and back, no higher than hip height. Hold for a few seconds, then switch arms and legs.
Physical therapy can help significantly with chronic posture issues, especially if your poor posture is due to injury or weakness. Physical Therapy Partners offers 1:1 physical therapy in a relaxed, professional setting. Contact us today to see how we can help!