3 Ways to Fix Rounded Shoulders and Poor Posture
Have you checked your spinal alignment recently? Poor posture is more common than you may think. The next time you're in public, watch how the people around you walk. You'll probably notice that almost everybody has slumping heads and shoulders from sitting in poor positions for most of the day.
The primary cause of poor alignment is sedentary, modern lifestyles. However, by making a daily effort to improve your posture, you can quickly develop it.
Why Should You Fix Your Posture?
When your head slumps forward and becomes misaligned, the joints in your back and neck become vulnerable. In fact, for each inch your head falls forward, there is an extra 10 pounds of force on your spine.
Fixing your posture can reduce your risk of back pain or improve already chronic pain. As we age, our muscles that support our back and neck naturally deteriorate, so by making an active effort to strengthen them slows the aging process. Here are three habits you can adopt each day to fix your posture.
Foam Roll Your Thoracic Spine
When you're sitting all day in front of a computer, your back rounds forward. If your screen isn't ergonomically adjusted, you may even lean forward in your seat. To undo this forward slumping, you need to bend your back the other way and release the muscles that spend all day in a shortened position.
Many gyms have foam rollers available, but you may want to buy one for your home so you can foam roll each morning or evening. To loosen your thoracic spine in your upper back, fit the roller under the tightest part of your back while lying face up. Put your arms over your head and roll up and down until you find a particularly tight spot. You can hold onto the edge of a yoga mat or piece of furniture to add more pressure if you need it.
Instead of using a foam roller, you can also tape two lacrosse balls together to make a homemade back massager. Spend a minimum of two minutes rolling your back each day to get the most benefit.
Strengthen the Muscles Supporting Your Head
When your head slumps forward while sitting poorly, the muscles that keep your head neutral get lazy. To activate these muscles, lie on a bed or other flat surface while facing the floor. Pull your chin toward you until your neck is horizontal to the ground and hold for three seconds. Lower your head again toward the floor and repeat ten to twenty times.
When done correctly, you should feel this exercise in your upper back. To make it more difficult, you can either increase the number of reps or hold each rep for longer.
Almost every motion of the shoulder while sitting involves internal rotation. Internal rotation is when your upper arm rotates toward the midline of your body. For example, when you type at a keyboard, your upper arm rotates toward your keyboard. Even when you're eating or using your phone, your arms turn internally.
To balance out the rotated position your shoulder is in for most of the day, you need to strengthen your shoulder's external rotation. Tie a rubber stretching band onto a solid object so that the band is at about waist height. Start with a relatively thin band since you'll be using a small group of muscles. Stand sideways to where the band is tied onto so that the band is crossing your body. Hold the loose end and pull it so that you're rotating at the elbow. Repeat for fifteen reps and as you get stronger increase the thickness of the band.
Even if you follow the advice of this article, you will have trouble making long-term changes to your posture unless you fix the way you sit. Try to raise your computer monitor so that your eyes are at two thirds up your screen. Also, try to stand every twenty minutes to loosen the muscles in your back and hips.