Posture Care

The following workout is designed to address problems caused by muscular imbalances. I would not assign these exercises to someone who suffers from a more complicated or serious problem, such as a herniated disc, and I would insist that that client consult a specialist. If you choose to attempt these exercises, please be careful and use common sense.

Daily Slump Corrector Workout

The following workout is typical of what I might program for a client in general good health who suffers from upper-back weakness and/or a habitual slump. This is known as “upper crossed syndrome”, and it can contribute to rotator cuff impingement and headaches. It also tends to make a person look shorter and less confident.

1. Upper Trapezius Stretch

The upper trapezius runs from the base of the skull to outer parts of the clavicle and scapula. The muscle is designed primarily to tilt the head up and to lift the shoulder blades. When the upper trap is overactive, chronically shortened, or too strong, the head can be pushed forward and the shoulderblades can creep up and forward. I rarely assign exercises such as shoulder shrugs because I find that most clients need to quiet and stretch this area.

2. Pectoral Stretch

The pectoralis major (“pec”) is designed to pull the upper arm towards the front of the body. Its fan-shape design allows it to do this at a range of angles. It is a powerful pushing muscle which assists the (smaller) triceps in exercises such as push-ups and bench presses. People who hold their arms in front of their bodies for long periods often develop tightness and/or shortening in their pectoralis major. This can contribute to their shoulders creeping forward and rotating inward. It is important to balance strengthening exercises with proper stretching.

3. Seated Row

The rhomboids and middle trapezius are designed to pull the shoulderblades in towards each other and down along the spine. They are very important for supporting the upper back, but they are often weak and overstretched because they are underused, and also because their antagonists (muscles with opposite functions) are too strong and/or overactive.

Notice that we have just stretched and relaxed the upper trap and pecs. This will allow us to work our back muscles more effectively.

4. Rear Deltoid Raise

The most obvious shoulder muscle is called the deltoid, which is shaped like a triangle (or the Greek letter “delta”) and connects about halfway down the upper arm. The anterior head, which starts at the clavicle, flexes the arm (lifts it forward) and rotates it internally. The middle head starts at the acromion process of the scapula and abducts the arm (raises through the side, as if you are a jumping jack or making a snow angel). The posterior head starts at the spine of the scapula. It extends the arm (lowers it from straight forward) and also rotates it outward.

It is common for the anterior (front) head of the deltoid to become much stronger than the posterior (rear) head, resulting in shoulders rotating in, which often contributes to a slump. The rear deltoid can be strengthened to better match the front deltoid with the following exercise:

5. Corpse Pose

Lie flat on your back on a firm surface, arms near your sides, palms up, legs extended down. You may place a folded towel behind your neck if desired. Lie here for at least one minute, relaxing as much of your body as you can. It is important to allow your body to settle into better alignment after working on imbalances.