Have you been hunched over a computer all day?
You know that you are supposed to get up and move around every hour – but hey – you’re in the zone and you can’t stop now!
You know you need to re-assess your work-station, perhaps –
- Get a new chair.
- Change the level of your computer.
- Readjust your keypad height.
………and you will get to it! But……….!
Does this sound at all like you?
Well, you are not alone!
So much of your daily life can be spent in a slightly forward position.
Whether it be at your computer, reading a book or magazine, at the kitchen bench cooking, driving your car – and the list goes on.
This subtle position over time does have an affect on your posture and is more pronounced as you get older.
If you look at your Mum or Dad and compare their posture to how they were 5 to 10 years ago – there is usually a marked difference. They seem shorter and definitely more rounded through the upper body.
If you become aware of this stance that you are so often in, you can start to make changes in your exercising routine and in your daily habits.
This rounded position also has a distinct effect on how we breathe.
Because if your shoulders are slightly rounded forward and your chest is sunken in, this compresses your diaphragm so long, deep beautiful breaths are no longer possible.
Shallow breathing comes into play, which is not of any benefit to your body or your stress levels!
Being in that slightly rounded position for long periods of time can start to shorten the muscles in your chest.
So just as it is important to strengthen the muscles in your upper back, because this will enable you to pull your shoulders back and give you your lovely upright posture again. You MUST at the same time focus on stretching out the muscles in your chest.
Check your current training routine and note whether there are enough ‘back of body exercises’ that work on strengthening the muscles that pull your shoulders back and enough stretches to open up your chest.
If the answer is yes – “Good For You!” – you are doing a wonderful thing for your body.
If the answer is ‘no’ or you would just like another option to really work on opening up your thoracic spine (the upper part of your back), this exercise below is a fabulous way to stretch out your chest muscles and to encourage that nice curve in your ‘hunched over’ back again!
I like to do this before my workout but it is equally as good to do after your workout too.
Chest & Back Opener Stretch
With knees bent, gently lower yourself down onto the roller so it sits just under your shoulder blades.
IMPORTANT: You may need to place a folded up towel or two, under your head for support. This will decrease the curve in your spine so that you can gently adapt to this position as you become more flexible over time.
If you touch your neck, it should feel relaxed – if not, make your head support higher.
You can have your arms above your head or splayed out to the side. Wherever they feel most comfortable.
Play some soothing music and stay in this position for 3-5 minutes – or however long you feel is beneficial for you.
Breathe deeply and try to let go of any tension in your body.
When you are ready to come up – tuck your chin in towards your chest first – then start rolling forward slowly. This avoids putting any undue pressure on your neck.
You will perhaps feel some tightness through your spine as you come up. Don’t be alarmed! You have just been gently stretching it in the opposite direction, so this is natural!
Roll to the side and go immediately into Childs Pose.
Feet together, knees wide apart.
Allow yourself a minute or so to really sink into this pose and let your body go.
Always work with what your body is giving you on any given day. Never try to force this type of stretch.
If you need your head support to be quite high, that is perfectly ok – you will still be working on opening up your back and stretching your chest muscles.
It may take your body a few days to open up, a few weeks or a few months. Everyone is different so don’t judge yourself. Just be consistent with your stretches and with your back strengthening exercises.
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Elaine is a Master Trainer with over 27 years of experience in nutrition and training styles. Being in her 50’s she understands what works for this age group. That is why she has developed the CBT20 Core Body Transformation 20 online 14 week training program and the CF20 Core Fusion 20 online 8 week training program. Elaine has also published a free E-Book on developing core strength in your 50’s.