As children we were always told to stand up tall, pull your shoulders back, don’t slouch… and for good reason! Though you may have perceived it as your parents nagging you, proper posture keeps your body correctly aligned, your muscles balanced and puts less stress on the spine.
We are all familiar with the forward slumped posture of elderly adults. This forward rounding of the upper back is called kyphosis, also commonly known as a dowager’s hump. In adults, kyphosis can be caused by poor posture that results in wear and tear on the spine or from vertebral fractures due to osteoporosis. Preventing kyphosis when you have osteoporosis can be a challenge. The loss of bone density increases your risk of compression fractures in the spine. Each time a vertebra fractures, the spine begins to round forward leading to a slow change in posture. Extreme kyphosis can also compromise your lung capacity, making it more difficult to breath. Exercises to strengthen your back muscles can help prevent and correct kyphosis and allow you to maintain a normal alignment. Establishing good postures not only looks better aesthetically, but can also prevent back pain and reduce the risk of spinal fractures.
Practicing good posture is important for everyone’s spinal health, and if you’re facing bone loss, improving your posture is essential for reducing the risk of spine fractures.
The goal of postural exercises is to stretch the tight muscles of the chest and to strengthen the weak muscles of the upper back and abdomen.
The following exercises are my 3 favorite exercises for stretching and strengthening your postural muscles.
For the first 2 exercises you will need a resistive band. You can pick up exercise bands any of your local sports equipment stores, Target, Walmart or even the dollar store. I recommend getting 3 bands of different strengths so that you can start out with the band of least resistance and then work your way up to the band with greatest resistance as you become stronger.
Elastic Band Rows:
- Place band around door knob or any secure fixture.
- Stand a few feet back from the door so the band is taught with your arms extended in front of you.
- Holding the elastic band with both hands, pull the band towards your until your hands reach your ribcage, keeping your elbows near your side and squeezing your shoulder blades together.
Hold: 2 seconds Reps: 10-20 times Sets: 2-3
Elastic Band Standing Core Strengthening Exercise:
- Place the band around door handle or fixed object.
- Stand a few feet back from the door so the band is taught with your arms extended in front of you
- Stand with arms stretched out in front of you and knees slightly bent
- Keeping your elbows straight, pull your arms back, keeping them close to your sides, until they are slightly extended behind your body
- As you are pulling your arms back, you will also be straightening your knees, squeezing gluteal muscles and tightening your stomach muscles
- Return to the starting position by relaxing your arms forward, bending your knees and relaxing your muscles
Hold: 2 sec Reps: 10 times Sets: 1-2
Wall Angels: You will need to find a free wall, unobstructed by pictures, door frames or molding
- Start with your back against the wall, with your feet placed 1 foot away from the wall
- Bend your knees slightly and flatten your back against the wall as much as possible
- Place the back of your head against the wall and tuck your chin, like you are making a double chin
- Place your arms on the wall with your elbows bent at 90 degrees
- Slowly move your arms overhead as far as you can go while maintain contact with the wall
- Slowly return to starting position
Reps: 10 times Sets: 1-2If you can’t maintain contact of your head, back and arms while performing this exercise in a standing position, you can begin by performing this exercise on the floor.
Floor Angels: You will need to be able to get down on the floor to perform these exercises. You can do them on your bed, but depending on the firmness of your mattress they may not be as effective
- Lie flat on your back with your knees bent
- Flatten your back against the floor
- Tuck your chin to stretch out the back of your neck by making a double chin
- Place your arms out to the side with your elbows bent at 90 degrees and in line with your shoulders
- Keeping your arms flat against the floor, slowly slide your arms over head and then back down to the starting position
Reps: 10 times Sets: 1-2
As with any exercise, STOP if you have pain or discomfort. You should consult your physician before starting any exercise program.
Give me a call for a FREE 15 minute consult! I can help you customize your exercise program so yo stay strong and healthy for life!