Health Blog

Correcting body alignment and body mechanics may seem tedious, time consuming, and unimportant. However a forward head, rounded upped back posture, lack of strength and flexibility to the trunk, thighs, neck and shoulder girdle can cause increased curvature and excessive weight bearing on the spine. These compressive forces will only intensify pain and/or discomfort and increase the chance of further injury. Therefore, it is imperative to correct poor posture in order to alleviate pain.

Check your posture with the following exercise:

Wall Stance
Press your heels, buttocks, shoulders and head firmly against the wall. Walk 3-5 steps away from the wall; hold for 5 seconds. Return to the wall by walking backwards. Did you have to readjust your posture? Pay particular attention to your head and neck. Practice this exercise a few times per day until you are able to walk back to the wall without making any postural adjustments.
NOTE: Were you able to get your heels and shoulders against the wall? Increasing your flexibility will allow you to do so over time.

To aid in keeping your shoulders back, try the following stretches:

Corner Stretch (Flexibility)
Movement: Stand 2-3 feet away from and facing a corner of a room. Place hands on the wall at shoulder height. Pull abdominals in and lean chest and hips into the corner; hold for 10-15 seconds. Hands can be adjusted up then down to change the stretch.
Goals:
    - To walk further away from the corner.
    - To keep hips, shoulders and back aligned.

Passive Posture (Flexibility)
Roll up three small towels. Place them on the floor. Lie on the towels so that one towel is under the natural curve in your neck, the other is in between your shoulder blades and the third is in the natural curve of your lower back. Rotate palms toward the ceiling. Lie in this position for 1-3 minutes.

11. Abdominal Crunches (Strength)
Movement: Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. With hands at your side, lift your head and shoulders off the floor—moving hands either toward ankles or knees as you lift.

Hint: Head should be in a rigid position (pretend to have an apple in between your chin and chest while lifting).
Note: It is normal for the neck muscles to become fatigued.

12. Arm Lift (Strength)
Movement: Lie on the corner of a bed face down, with head and neck relaxed. Extend arms over your head and raise arms toward the ceiling. Hold for 2-5 seconds increasing to 15 seconds over time. Repeat 5 times.
Hint: Place a pillow under your hips for support. Repeat flexibility exercises #6 & 9

13. Stabilization of Shoulder Girdle (Strength)
Movement: Lie on the corner of a bed face down. Relax head and neck. With arms extended out to the side, squeeze shoulder blades together and raise both arms toward the ceiling. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Build up to holding for 20 seconds.
Note: This exercise will become easier over time. It can be advanced by holding soup cans and then weights. Reduce your hold time to 1-3 seconds.
Hint: Place a pillow under your hips for support. Repeat flexibility exercise #9

14. Upper Back and Neck Stretch (Flexibility)
Movement: Tilt head to the side, and gently grasp the side of your head (at ear) and allow gravity to stretch the muscles. Then place opposite hand behind back. Hold for 10-20 seconds.
Note: Do not pull on head and neck!

15. Shoulder Reach (Strength)
Movement: Lie on your back with arms extended toward the ceiling. Attempt to open your shoulder blades as you push arms straight up to the ceiling. Keep your back against the floor and elbows straight. Hold for 5 seconds and build up to 15 seconds.  Repeat flexibility exercise #6

16. Shoulder Blade Lift (Flexibility)
Movement: Place (L) hand on (L) shoulder blade, elevating elbow. Move chin and nose to (R) shoulder. Gently place (R) hand on top of head, and allow gravity to stretch the muscle. Hold 10-20 seconds, repeat to the other side
Note: Do not pull on head and neck!

17. Upward Row (Strength)
Movement:
1. Stand tall with shoulder blades squeezing together. Hold a towel with both hands in front of your body, palms facing toward the body. Leading with the elbows, lift both hands to the chin and hold; squeeze shoulder blades together in this position.
2. Once this becomes familiar, add 1-5 pound weights, repeat 10-20 times.
FORM CHECK: At the end of the exercise, elbows should be higher than the ears and wrists.  Repeat stretches #8 & 14

7. Shoulder Retraction (Strength)
Movement: With fingers touching the ears and elbows up, pinch shoulder blades together (as you do this, your elbows will move back). Hold for 5 seconds and release shoulder blades. Do not pull or push on the neck.
Hint: Hold the neck retracted (See #5) while squeezing shoulder blades together.
Modification: If it is painful to have hands behind your ears then place hands on shoulders.

8. Neck Stretch (Flexibility)
Movement: Lift (R) ear to ceiling. Grasp (R) arm above wrist (in front of body) and drop shoulder as you gently pull your (R) arm down. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat with same arm behind back. Repeat to the other side.
Hint: To enhance this stretch, rotate chin up and down.

9. Upper Back Stretch (Flexibility)

Movement:

1st stage: Clasp hands together in front of body with both arms extended. Gently pull shoulder blades apart and drop chin to chest. Hold for 10-30 seconds.
2nd stage: Sit in a chair, cross arms and grab arm rests. Move your chin to your chest as you open shoulder blades.

10. Prone Retraction (Flexibility)
Movement: Lie on the corner of a bed, face down, head and neck relaxed. With arms bent and elbows raised, squeeze shoulder blades together, raising elbows, and hold for 5 seconds. Build up to holding for 15 seconds. Repeat 5 times.
Hint: Place a pillow under your hips for support.
Repeat flexibility exercise #9