3 Exercises To Correct Posture and Eliminate Back Pain
written by Jason Cowland
Senior Practitioner at Melbourne Muscular Therapies – Richmond Jason Cowland discusses how poor posture can increase your chances of suffering from debilitating back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain and so on. This blog will cover why our postures are getting worse, and three corrective exercises you can implement into your daily routine in order to improve posture and eliminate back pain!
- Book Openings- Increase thoracic spine mobility
- Plank Progressions- TVA/ core activation
- Neutral Stance- retracted shoulders, ribs expanded, TVA & Glute activation
- Eliminating Mid & Upper Back Pain
Posture! As a kid in school we were told to sit and stand up straight, not to hunch our shoulders and not to slouch! However, as we grow older our posture seems to be getting worse. But why?
The team at Melbourne Muscular Therapies Richmond can guarantee you that this is generally due to the increased amount of time that we as a modern society spend sitting at a desk, in a car or in front of the TV! Prolonged sitting causes a significant breakdown within the fascial systems of the human body, which ultimately can lead to back pain and other forms of physical dysfunction!
However, never fear, because this blog is going to demonstrate three corrective exercises that can help you to eliminate back pain in particular, re-train your body to stand in perfect posture. These three exercises are explained below!
1. Book Openings
Decreased Thoracic mobility is one of the common issues that arises from having poor posture. Constant hunching/slouching can lead to the abdominals and pecs (superficial/deep front lines) to be fixated in a flexed state. As a result, thoracic extension and rotation tend to be the movements affected most by this dysfunction. This exercise is great at improving both of these movements.
How to perform book openings
To correctly perform an open book, keep the top hip and knee flexed to 90 degrees, make sure it stays in contact with the floor to ensure the Thoracic is being targeted. When bringing the top arm across the body be sure to fully exhale and not hold you breath, as people have a tendency to do.
2. Plank Progression
The plank is one of the most pivotal exercises in correcting dysfunctional posture, but due it constantly being performed incorrectly and people aiming for quantity over quality, a poorly performed plank can actually feed on the dysfunction that is already present.
When performed effectively and efficiently the plank activates and strengthens a muscle known as TVA (Transverse Abdominus). This muscle is the bodies own internal weight lifters belt, and helps to build and maintain intra abdominal pressure.
How to perform a plank correctly
To best know if you are planking correctly, you should place a broom stick on your back, and use a mirror to ensure that the spine remains neutral. Once in the plank position you want to retract the naval (NOTE -DO NOT brace and push stomach out, but draw the belly button in (naval retraction) as you are posteriorly tilting the pelvis (activating your glute max) and retract the shoulder blades to avoid rounding into a thoracic kyphosis.
3. Standing Neutral Posture
Standing neutral does not just mean pulling your shoulders back and down when you are standing, as many new clients at Melbourne Muscular Therapies have been told to do by previous Physiotherapists and other health professionals.
This exercise is not only important for retraining a static posture, but it will also improve your athletic performance, as you are able to maintain a stronger posture and generate a greater amount of activation from the correct muscle groups/ chains.
How to perform neutral stance
Again the use of a mirror for this exercise will assist with performing it correctly. The main focuses on the neutral stance are; -posteriorly tilting the pelvis (tucking the bum under) by squeezing your glutes, to get yourself out of an anterior pelvic tilt or shift.
– drawing in the naval and expanding the rib cage as you breathe in, to activate TVA and correct compressed rib cage, and encourage Thoracic spine extension.
– Retract the shoulder blades to activate rhomboids, middle and lower trapezius to eliminate increased Thoracic kyphosis and rounded shoulders. Now the common fault with this exercise is that a lot of people depress the scapula, where you actually need to slightly raise the shoulders to engage the upper trapezius.
– Lastly you want to tuck your chin to your chest to activate the deep neck flexors to correct forward head carriage and Cervical hyper-extension.
You should try and hold this posture for 20-30 seconds to start with, then increase to 30 seconds to 1 minute and repeat 5-10 times. In order to create long term postural change, repetitions need to be completed repeatedly and consistently.
In addition to the exercises we prescribed above, it is important to regularly receive hands-on treatment through massage in order to release painful tension and adhesion within your body. Regular massage at Melbourne Muscular Therapies Richmond will ensure your pain is eliminated, and it will also give your body the chance to re-align itself through exercise. Quite often, the adhesions within fascia and muscle caused by poor posture is so strong and deeply engrained, that it is often impossible to complete corrective exercise with the correct form/technique. The following videos demonstrate the type of massage that is used at Melbourne Muscular Therapies. We use an internally developed technique called ‘Solidified Connective Tissue Release (SCT Release), which targets pain at the source. It is proven to be greatly effective at eliminating pain and increasing human function.