Banish Pain Permanently: Basic Drills to Repair Your Posture
This article provides an in-depth description of five fundamental posture exercises. These are the cues and tidbits of information that I go over with my clients in person. When implemented properly, they will greatly increase the benefit you get from doing the exercises.
My goal is to provide you with additional details about each of these five exercises that you may not find in any of my previous videos or from other books or resources on the Internet.
The five exercises are:
Please use your good judgement and choose the exercises that are best for your body at this time. If an exercise causes pain or discomfort, discontinue that exercise and refer to the modifications and progressions listed. Let’s get started.
The Static Back exercise relaxes the muscles of the lower back and opens the thoracic spine.
Static Back places the shoulders in the same plane as the hips and allows the muscles of the low back to release gradually and passively using your own body weight and gravity. Static Back also engages the hip flexors and encourages thoracic extension. In other words, your upper back will begin to open up against the flat surface of the floor.
By simply allowing the head to rest in line with the shoulders and hips, the muscles of the neck and jaw will also begin to release here in Static Back. Static Back will also begin to neutralize rotation in the pelvis and torso. Avoid chewing gum and texting during Static Back.
- Lie on your back with your legs up over a block or chair. Keep your knees and hips at 90 degrees. Place your arms at your sides at either 45 degrees to your body with your palms up or in line with your shoulders with your palms up.
- Take deep full breaths and just relax.
- Stay here until you feel your low back and hips settle evenly into the floor. This may take 5 minutes or even longer.
If you have been in Static Back for ten minutes and your low back and hips are still not even on the floor, try the other exercises included in this article first before returning to Static Back. Sometimes different areas of the body need to be activated or released before the body is ready to ‘let go’ and settle into a neutral position.
If you notice that your head does not easily or comfortably come down to the floor, or if your chin is tilted up and back, then place a folded towel under your head to prop your head up. Elevating your head will place your head and neck in a neutral position and allow the neck and thoracic spine to release. You will gradually be able to lower your head all the way to the floor.
If your neck is in an awkward position (left), place a towel behind your head.
Keeping your arms somewhere between 45 degrees and shoulder height places the shoulder joints into a neutral position. The scapula should lie flat on the floor, and the shoulders should not be rotated up off the floor. Find the arm position that allows for the most neutral shoulder position. If the shoulders remain rotated off the floor, then stay here in Static Back for 10 minutes and observe as gravity and your own body weight coax your shoulders closer to the floor.
Do not retract your shoulders and actively try to force these changes to happen. Static Back is intended to be a passive release that leads to changes in muscle length and tension and improved skeletal alignment. Having your palms up allows the shoulder joint to open up and settle back towards the floor. If your palms were to be down during Static Back, your shoulder joint would be in an internally rotated position, which is what we are trying to correct here.
If you have an excessively rounded thoracic back and protracted or internally rotated shoulders, you may want to begin Static Back with your palms down as a way to get into positon, and gradually work towards having your palms facing up.
If your knees and feet fall apart while you are in Static Back, you will not get the full benefit of the exercise. To troubleshoot this problem, check your body positioning. This problem is likely to happen if your legs are too low. Try adding a pillow or a folded blanket to the surface that your legs are resting on. Once you relax, your knees and feet can fall apart slightly, but they should remain pretty close to hip-width distance apart.