You're probably reading this because you're tired of having rounded shoulders or you're looking for neck pain relief. You might have recently started working out and developed some muscle imbalances that are contributing to your poor posture. What ever the reason maybe, the GYMCADDY™ Team is here to pass on some knowledge we have acquired from training multiple clients through out the years. We will attempt to fix your poor posture with stretching and exercise assuming you don't have any medical conditions contributing to your poor posture. If pain or posture does not subside please seek medical attention from your doctor or physical therapist. As always, remember to pick up your GYMCADDY!
Over the years poor posture has become more and more common across the board. This is largely due to a predominantly sedentary life style, working in front of a computer all day long, and or always sitting at a desk at school all day. Even people who work physically labor intensive jobs are still prone to poor posture and muscle imbalances. But thats a whole different article. Looking at your smart phone for long periods of time can also be contributing to your poor posture as well! Having a hunched over posture and rounded shoulders doesn't just look bad, it can also lead to neck pain and or back pain. If you start working out before addressing your poor posture you can make your posture worse or could even suffer an injury.
The hunched over and rounded shoulders posture can either be self induced through muscle imbalances and poor exercise planning, or for sitting at a computer for extended periods of time. Getting poor posture from sitting at a computer all day is self explanatory, sit hunched over for an extended period of time and your body will tend to stay like that all day. Self inducing poor posture is a little more interesting. For the most part, when people start lifting for the first time they want a bigger chest and bigger arms. And theres nothing wrong with that. But in order to achieve those goals, people will start working out their chest and arms predominately and neglect almost every other body part. This chest and arm focused workout routine will lead to a tight and over compensating chest and under developed and unactivated back. Marathon training or constant cycling can also lead to a hunched over posture. This muscle imbalance is what leads to the hunched over posture and can even cause on going neck pain in rare instances.
OK, How Do We Fix It?
Great question Johnny! Over the years we have developed a simple and effective workout routine that has helped a lot of past clients correct their poor posture. (This is assuming you don't have any other more complex imbalances or medical conditions like scoliosis) the routine below will loosen up your tight and over compensating chest and strengthen your under activated back. The routine below should be done twice a week for the first month or so. If your posture is corrected after a month you can continue to do the routine when you start to notice the hunched over posture returning. But ideally, after your posture is corrected you should start doing a workout routine that is well designed and will prevent muscle imbalances and hunched over posture from forming.
First, you should start by warming up your chest with 10 push ups, or 10 bench presses with the barbell. The goal here is to get your blood going.
Next, you should stretch out your chest and bicep like in the picture. You should should push through your palm and feel a deep stretch in you chest and bicep. Don't be afraid to play around with the placement of your palm and bend your knees. You should be feeling the stretch in your chest and not in your shoulders. You should hold this stretch for 30 seconds while applying constant force through your palm and then switch to your other hand. You should do the first 2 steps 3 times. So it should look like this: Push up, Stretch, Push up, Stretch, Push up Stretch.
After you've completed the first block you should open up your chest further by doing whats called Bioenergetic Breathing. Like in the picture below, you should reach up and as back as possible, breath deeply through your mouth and hold the position for 30 seconds. If done correctly you will feel your core contracting vigorously. Don't be alarmed, this is perfectly normal for people new to this position. The shaking is a result of your tightness in your core. Over time the shaking will minimize or subside. After you've done the breathing technique, we would like you to follow it by stretching your tricep like shown below. You should hold this stretch for 30 seconds and then switch to your other arm. Again we would like you to do this second bock 3 times. So it should look like: Breath, Stretch, Breath, Stretch, Breath Stretch.
Next up you will do the Skydiver exercise. We want you to hold the contraction for 10 second per rep and focus on really squeezing the upper portion of your back. We would like you to do 5 sets of 15 reps with a 10 second hold on the contraction and with 3 second rests in between rep. This exercise will activate those under developed and neglected back muscles.
After you've done the Skydivers you should move on to Cable Scarecrows. This exercise should be done with a low weight, we find 15 to pounds is enough. Similar to the Skydivers, we want you to do 3 sets of 10 reps with a 10 second pause on the contraction.
Finally, you should move on to the Hammer Machine Row with a neutral grip. Again, we want you to use a low amount of weight and just focus on the contraction and hold. Similar to the Cable Scarecrows, we want you to do 3 sets of 15 with a 3 second pause on the contraction. You should take extra care to really focus the contraction of the middle back.
And there you have it! This is the routine we prescribe to our GYMCADDY clients when they need posture correction for a hunched over back or upper body muscle imbalances. Results wont be instant, you have to do the routine consistently for a few weeks. But after a few weeks you should start to see an improvement in your posture. After you've corrected you posture you should start doing a workout routine that is well designed and prevents imbalances from forming.