“Can I share something with you?” a Valeo member asked me timidly.
-“Sure! What’s up?”-
“Ok, this may not seem like a big deal, but I was walking downtown the other day and caught my reflection in a storefront window. It stopped me in my tracks and made me smile!”
-“That’s awesome! What did you notice?!”-
“My posture! I wasn’t nearly as hunched over as I use to be. I seriously think I’ve gained an inch or two. I’ve always had a curve in my upper back and when I walked by that window, I was standing tall and straight. It really took me aback*. It may seem little, but gosh, I like what I saw!”
*edited for pure punniness.
How awesome is that?! We love hearing these types of stories from our members – which is why a lot of the exercises we program here at Valeo are restorative and help counteract the damage done by sitting for prolonged periods of time. The seemingly simple act of being hunched at a phone or computer for hours causes a muscle memory in our body – our muscles and connective tissue tend to ‘set’ in the position they’re in most often. For many of us, this means shortened, tight, improperly-firing muscles that pull on our skeletal system, resulting in poor posture and a myriad of discomforts.
Just take a look at your co-workers at their desks or even at yourself in the mirror and you may see an upper back that’s curved forward. While there may be many causes of a posture like this, a few red flags are immediately raised for us: tight chest! weak back! tight hip flexors! weak butt! In fact, creating more mobility, stability, and strength in these areas does wonders for turning your posture into that of, well, WonderWoman or Superman-esque. Chest up, shoulders back, stand proud. Looks good, right?
We shared one hip exercise in a Tuesday / Tip not too long ago. Another exercise to help undo the poor posture position is what we call Thoracic Rotation with Heel Sit. It provides a gentle stretch to the chest while creating much-needed mobility and flexibility in the upper back and torso (thoracic spine) area. Plus, it uses rotation, a plane of motion often overlooked in traditional training programs. Since our muscles were created to rotate during everyday life movements, we’re sure to train them that way in the gym!
Here’s what you need to do:
1. Be on the ground with one hand on your head and the other arm stretched out in front of you. Sit on your heels.
2. Rotate chest and shoulders down, tapping elbow to elbow.
3. Inhale as you lift your bent arm toward the ceiling, rotating your chest and shoulders. Open up as far as possible (a slight discomfort from stretching tight muscles is ok but stop if you experience pain). Exhale.
4. Relax and return to the starting position, again tapping elbow to elbow to get full range of motion, if possible.
Perform 6 reps, then repeat on other side. Always think about keeping yourtorso long as you rotate; you should feel the stretch all along your back and chest. Keep neck aligned with spine the entire time.
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