These VerticAlign blog posts contain information about different exercises and stretches that can assist with posture and alignment. These exercises aim to help reduce back pain, neck pain, hip pain and knee pain. Each movement can be used to help build core strength, overcome an anterior pelvic tilt (arched back), posterior pelvic tilt (flat back) or kyphosis (hunchback) posture. Each exercise has a detailed description to help the reader understand exactly how to do it properly. Exact form is ideal for doing each of these movements. It’s important for the client to know exactly what to do, and how to do it. It’s also important to know what ORDER to do these movements in. Clients can use these descriptions to do workouts at home. Exercising at home is a powerful way to help overcome pain and feel better. Daily movement to improve posture will make you look slimmer, taller and leaner.
It’s a ridiculous time of year. Joy, happiness, gratitude, and merriment are all supposed to be the important emotions. But isn’t it STRESSFUL trying to actually FEEL these emotions when suddenly you have a thousand things on your plate?
So today I will highlight my most favorite of exercises of all. In fact… you really can’t call it an exercise. Because all you do it lay there and RELAX! Doesn’t this sound amazing?
As benign as it looks, this particular position (called Static Back), has actually eliminated pain for clients almost immediately. I had one client recently report that his hip pain rated at a 9 (out of 10), dropped down to a 3, in one week of doing static back. Just ONE week!
So when you are taking a breather from online shopping, or baking Christmas cookies, or decorating the tree, or making plans, all you have to do is lie in this position for 5 minutes. Get in the correct position, take a deep breath, exhale slowly, and relax.
There are many bio mechanical reasons why this position is ultimately amazing for you body. First, the hip-flexed position (with your knees bent and directly above the hips) is great for realigning the pelvis if you happen to have rotation (a lot of people do). Holding this position also mildly activates the flexors of the hip. In this position, the thoracic spine is forced to open up and the hands up position helps to open the chest and encourage external rotation in the shoulder joint. Once you’re in this position, gravity and breathing can help realign the body and provide immediate relief to your spine. The goal is to hold Static Back for 5 to 10 minutes a day.
Here are some more important quick tips on how to perform Static Back correctly:
Find a chair or ottoman that is the correct height for your legs. You want to make sure you have a 90 degree angle at the knee and at the hip joint. The knees should also be placed directly above the hips (not wider). If you notice your legs “splay” out to the sides when you prop up your knees, this means the chair/ottoman is too low for you. Add a few folded blankets under your shins to elevate the lower legs. There is a great option for a block that works for a lot of body sizes that you can purchase HERE.
If you find your head uncomfortably tilted back (where you are looking at the ceiling behind you) that means you might need to place a small rolled up towel under you head. Otherwise keep your eyes looking directly up, turn your palms face up to that your thumbs almost touch the ground, and plant your arms at a 45 degree angle.
Engage in deep diaphragmatic breaths. Inhale deeply as you expand your ribcage to the sides, then exhale deeply letting all the air out. Do this slowly and deeply and really think about the air moving into your ribcage (versus your neck and shoulders).
If you want more chest opening, and you know you tend to internally rotate the shoulders (most desk job warriors do!), then try the position below. Take both arms and place them like football goal posts on either side of the body with the palms face up. Be sure not to flare the ribcage up towards the ceiling. Hold this position for 3 to 5 minutes.
Enjoy this… my holiday gift to you! Please comment below and let me know if you’ve tried this position before. If not, I would love to hear how it feels! I respond to every comment!
Sitting or standing at your workstation can cause some intense pain! Most people believe that sitting is what causes a myriad of problems such as neck pain and back pain. In reality, the problem with our technology driven lifestyle is that we are not moving as much as our bodies are designed to move.
To help combat this epidemic of immobility, I’ve created a desk program to help you get in your daily, effective posture exercises that can be easily done during your work day.
Of course the only way to determine if a posture coaching plan is right for you is to try it out! To give you a sampling of the effective and efficient posture specific exercises designed for this program, below is a a short 4 minute desk routine. This mini desk pain relief plan hits the 3 major areas of the body that need to be worked throughout the day. I recommend doing this 4 minute routine daily for a week and see how your body feels. In fact, it’s so short that you can do it multiple times in a day!
Be sure to perform the exercises in the order listed below.
DESK HAMSTRING STRETCH
Let’s begin with opening up the chest and stretching the hamstrings. Watch the video below. The VERY important part of this exercise is the lower back position. It’s important that it’s NOT rounded and that you use your hip flexors to find a neutral pelvis position (lower back is flat):
DESK SITTING ELBOW CURLS
Next up we are going to strengthen the upper body posture muscles. We’ve opened up the chest muscles in the previous exercises, so therefore it should be a bit easier to get the arms into this position for elbow curls. Make sure that your knuckles are ON your forehead and that you try to get your elbows to touch together when you close them up. Listen to the audio for more cues:
DESK STANDING IN-LINE GLUTEAL CONTRACTIONS
Finally, it’s time to work the glutes! We sit on these muscles and they become under-activated. Without active glutes, our lower back takes on a lot more pressure than it was designed to take. This exercise works the muscles unilaterally (which means one side at a time). This way you can figure out which side is harder to contract than the other, and correct this disparity. Check it out here:
Rotate through these 3 exercises as many times as you can in a day, and you’re guaranteed to feel better! It’s quick, easy, and simple to do on a daily basis. You can search for hours and hours on the internet to try to find an easy way to get proper posture exercises at your desk, or you could follow this mini plan and know that you’re getting the best possible 4 minute routine that’s worth your time.
(no really… comment below and tell me what else I can offer you to help your posture and pain!)
What more do you want?
Comment below and let me know how you did with this mini plan… I love to hear from all of you and respond to every email (comment)!
Carpal tunnel syndrome. It’s a scary phrase. When this nerve problem begins, it’s like a runaway train… hard to control and stop from wrecking everything around you.
Without your hands, it’s difficult to type and work. Drive and eat. Taking a bath and brushing your teeth even becomes difficult.
I haven’t personally had this disorder, but shortly after becoming a mom I did have tendonitis in my wrists as a result of suddenly picking up a baby all day long. I had to do physical therapy and the pain was excruciating. I don’t wish this on anyone!
Statistics from the NIH show that women are 3 times more likely to get carpal tunnel the men (the part of their wrist that compresses the medial nerve is smaller), and assembly workers are 3 times more likely to get carpal tunnel due to repetitive movement stress.
So how can I avoid it? Watch your repetitive movements and be sure you’re not overdoing it.
We also know that exercises and stretches can help, so getting a daily dose of these in will feel good, and be good for you.
Even if you’re not worried about carpal tunnel, even normal typing and texting we do all day long should be counterbalanced with targeting stretches and exercises.
I’ve put together 5 wrist stretches to do daily to help improve the function in the wrist joint. I asked my colleague Christian Valentin, a top notch personal trainer who’s passionate about proper form and alignment, to help demonstrate these exercises:
First, let’s stretch the wrist flexors. You can do this 2 ways. When working at my desk, I like to simply stand up and place my wrist on the desk and lean into this stretch. Christian is demonstrating it on the floor and the wall to give you multiple options. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds.
This next stretch also has a wrist flexor stretch but also an added component of a neck stretch, which addresses the impact of the cervical spine on the arms and hands. This also gives the wrist medial nerve a good stretch. This can be done standing or sitting in a chair that doesn’t have arm handles. But sure that your head is pulled back into good posture (ear over the shoulder) before you begin this movement. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds.
This next one is an amazing stretch for the thumb flexors. Make sure you do both hands and keep the arm still as you bend the wrist. Don’t pull too hard and hold each side for 30 seconds.
I love this next movement for the radial nerve. It feels best when done dynamically, which means moving slowly through the position 5 to 7 times (no static hold). Imagine you are holding an egg in front of you and then you plan to pass the egg to someone behind you. Yes, it’s an odd description, but it works.
Finally, this one is the hardest and most challenging to perform. Again it’s best done dynamically so move through the stretch 5 to 7 times versus holding still. This one gets the ulnar nerve so you will feel it in the pinky side of your hand.
If you’ve done these 5 movements, your wrists are warmed up and your nerves should all be moving better. These didn’t take long, so adding them into your daily routine should be an easy solution to your hand and wrist pain.
Please comment below, do you have wrist issues? If so, what has helped you resolve them?