As a massage therapist, one of the main concerns that i typically address with clients is lower back pain and tight, knotted shoulders. This is no surprise, since the average American spends around 13 hours sitting at a desk, with a concave chest and rounded shoulders. This habitual poor posture can actually alter the length of your muscles over time. The muscles in the front side of your body actually get shortened and the muscles and tissues of the back of the body tend to be lengthened. Strengthening the upper part of your posterior chain (latissimus doors, erector spine, deltoids, trapezius) can help you straighten out your posture. Good posture will help you correct muscle imbalances and improve your performance in the gym, since the length-tension relationship of the muscles on each side of joints will be able to produce more force.
In order to improve your posture, try a few of these moves on your own:
Pull Ups: Pull ups are an excellent way to strengthen your back muscles, helping to straighten you up from your head to your hips. Take an overhand grip on a pull-up bar with your hands a bit wider than shoulder-width apart. Draw your shoulder blades together, driving your elbows down and back as you pull your chin up towards the bar. Slowly lower down after each rep. To modify, try pulling yourself up with a resistance band around your knees or try inverted pull ups with your legs bent.
Seated Cable Row: This move isolates your upper back and counteracts a rounded thoracic spine. Sit on the machine with your knees slightly bent and hold the handle with your arms extended. Keep your torso upright (don’t lean back) and drive your elbows bak, squeezing your shoulder blades together and pulling the handle into your bellybutton. Slowly return to the start.
Banded Pull Aparts: This exercise promotes a straight-back posture by training scapular retraction and lifting the chest. With palms facing down, grip a lightweight resistance band and hold it at chest height with your hands shoulder-width apart. Keep your arms straight and retract your shoulder blades, opening your arms to the side.
Foam Roller T-Spine Stretch: This move stretches tight pectorals and encourages a neutral spine. Lie face up with a foam roller positioned lengthwise under your spine, neck, and head. Extend your arms to the sides, palms facing upwards, allowing your shoulders and chest to open. Starting at your hips, slowly circle your arms over your head and then return them back to the starting position.
If you would like to address muscle imbalances or are having difficulty developing proper posture on your own, a massage therapist can assess your muscle imbalances and posture in order to help get you on the right track. Please message Stephanie at Blitz Body and Mind Massage to schedule your appointment today. She can be reached at (716)866-3261.