Sunday, December 11, 2011

5 Exercises To Improve Your Posture

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Every patient comes into skilled nursing for a different reason. No case is identical; however, there is one aspect that all patients share. 100% of my patients have deficits in their posture.

The importance of posture increases as we age...


In the population with whom I work, posture affects:
  • the visual field
  • the ability to swallow
  • the respiratory capacity
  • the ability to digest food
  • balance and stability when sitting without back support and standing, and
  • joint stiffness, causing back and neck pain.

What contributes to a person's posture?

  • genetics
  • your muscle strength that holds your bones together
  • your bone density
  • your awareness of your posture throughout the day
  • your activity level
  • your nutritional intake
  • the physical requirements of your job, or
  • injury or illness that changes a person's muscle tone.
For example, here's what you might look like if you have a desk job
and you're not aware of how you sit (two of the factors above):
This is what I would record in my occupational therapy documentation as acquired thoracic kyphosis with forward neck flexion, which I observe in a majority of older patients...
 When I evaluate a new patient, I am keenly aware of the person's posture.

It affects everything!
subtle changes in our lifestyle
can reverse poor posture
and increase our vitality!
Let's start with exercise!

Posture Exercise Regimen
I immediately begin an exercise regimen with my patients. It's a modified regimen that I have used to keep my trunk and neck strengthened and in the proper position since a back injury last year.

Here's what you need:
  • A therapy ball (recommend 65cm for people under 5'9")
  • A yoga mat
  • A door or wall that is clear for you to stand against.
  • 20 minutes of your time devoted to optimal health....
    By the way, 
    your body always tells you what it needs.

    (Always consult your physician before starting an exercise regimen!)

    These exercises are not necessarily recommended in this order. You can do one or all. I've found each of them to be helpful in promoting better posture.

    Posture Exercise #1
    Start off on the yoga mat on your back. Reach up and stretch your arms above your head. Lengthen your spine. Roll over onto your stomach. Get up on your elbows. Lift your head. Breathe deeply. For some, this can feel tight. If it's not difficult for you, go a step further to straighten your arms and arch your back into a great stretch. Like this:

    Stretching Exercise(s) #2
    Now, roll over and and progress to stretching your quadratus lumborum through a series of moves outlined by Athletes Treating Athletes. (click!) The last one in this sequence is best done on the edge of a bed or therapy mat.

    Posture Exercise #3
    Next, stand up against the wall. Put your feet, buttocks, and upper back against the wall. Tuck your chin and push your head back against the wall. Drop your shoulders.  Relax. Do this 10 times.   (9 out of 10 of my patients have difficulty reaching the wall with their head...) 
    Therapy Ball
    Posture Exercise #4
    Sit down on the therapy ball, then roll down until you arch your back and almost touch your hands to the floor above your head. From this position, you can strengthen your abs by doing modified sit ups. I like to stretch my arms straight out to the side and stretch my pectoralis muscles (chest muscles) - this helps open the chest area and decrease rounded shoulders.

    Posture Exercise(s) #5
    Turn over on the therapy ball and do the following:
    a) Superman stretch: feet on the floor, balance your stomach on the ball and hold your arms straight out like Superman. Work up until you can hold the position for 60 seconds.
    b) Roll forward, stomach on the ball, until your feet are straight out off the floor, your arms are straight, elbows locked and your hands are on the floor.  Head lifted and looking straight ahead. Hold for up to 60 seconds.
    c) Stomach stays on the ball, alternate lifting left arm and right leg together while balancing, then lift right arm and left leg together. This one is a little more challenging, but you'll find you can hold it longer as time goes on. You'll be very aware of any weaknesses on this one!

    OK, go to it!
    • Look in the mirror.
    • Be aware of your shoulders and your head position.
    • Modify your work station.
    • Switch our your office chair for a therapy ball!

    I'd love you hear about your exercises and advice on posture....


    1. Thank you for sharing awesome information regarding exercise and true. As we are really unknown about the true posture that how to sit. This article is really helpful for all. If you have any problem in sitting properly, an occupational therapist can solves such issues and gives a direction to lives of many disabled and suffering people.

    2. Hi, there! I could not get to your link - can you please re-post, so we can take a look! Thanks, Tre