Most of us at some point over the years have been told that we need to sit up straighter, improve our posture or strengthen our postural muscles for several reasons including to improve our neck pain, shoulder pain, mid back pain, lower back pain etc. The three exercises below are great, simple exercises to target your postural muscles so that you can get started.
The focus of this exercise is on the muscles in between your shoulder blades. As you will see below, this is the basis of any exercise progressions. This exercise can be performed in various positions, including sitting, on your stomach or standing with or without wall support. In one of these positions, draw your shoulder blades towards each other with a slight downward pull. You should feel tension in the muscles between and slightly below your shoulder blades. You should not feel your neck or lower back muscles when performing this exercise and if you are then perhaps you are squeezing to firmly or have poor technique. Some muscle work in your shoulders or upper arms is acceptable but this should be minimal comparatively to the muscles between your shoulder blades. Try and hold this squeeze for up to 10 seconds before gently releasing.
The focus of this exercise is similar to ‘Shoulder Blade Squeezes’ but this adds an arm component. Simply draw your shoulder blades together as above but this time you are also going to draw both bent elbows back behind you. This exercise can be performed with no weights, free weights or resistance bands and can also be done with your arms moving simultaneously or individually. You can perform this exercise in standing, sitting or on your stomach over the side of a couch or bed.
Shoulder Blade Squeezes with Forward Arm Movements
Similar to your ‘Rows’, this exercise adds an arm component to your ‘Shoulder Blade Squeezes’. Stand with your back and head against the wall. Have your knees bent so that your back is relatively flat against the wall. Draw your shoulder blades together as above and hold. You should feel the inside borders of your shoulder blades equally pushing into the wall. You need to maintain this throughout the exercise. Once your shoulder blades are set, slowly raise one arm infront of you. Raise your arm up to approximately 90 degrees or to the horizontal provided you can keep the same connection between your shoulder blades throughout. If you are unable to do this and you have lost the connection between your shoulder blades then you have lifted too high for what you are correctly able to do. Next time do not lift as high. If you were able to do this correctly then you may repeat or try some harder variations. These variations include performing the exercise with both arms simultaneously, lifting one or both arms up against a resistance band or performing the exercise without the wall’s feedback and support.
If you need assistance with working out an individual exercise program for you to work on your posture then come and see one of our Physiotherapist’s at Bend + Mend in Sydney’s CBD.