Funny thing about habits. They can save your bacon or fry it. Mmmm. Bacon. No! Habits. Talking about habits.
How you sit, walk, stand, and lay down is one posture habit after another. Your body responds to each of those habits. Accordingly, your muscles and joints are affected by the same habits. While joint and muscle pain can be caused by an injury, such as falling or being in a car accident, chronic pain can also be the result of physical inflexibility and weakness.
Let’s consider the everyday activities of the average mom. From the pregnancy, to the delivery, to lifting baby carriers, and pushing strollers, our bodies are being pushed and pulled from every direction.
Besides the equipment and supplies that a mom has to load around in a day, she has to keep track of a tiny human being intent on its own destruction at every possible opportunity. Then, you’ve got the feeding, bathing, dressing, cleaning up after, sleeping with, and don’t get me started on the hormones.
So, it’s no shock that our bodies don’t fit in a bikini anymore or that we ache in places that we didn’t even know existed in our 20’s. Our posture isn’t what it used to be because our body adapted to carrying around little humans whose perfectly-formed legs couldn’t carry them more than 20 feet at the store, but could jump from couch to couch at home 30 minutes ago.
But as our kids grow up and no longer need us to lean over a bathtub to bathe them or to sleep next to them in a contorted position on the edge of the mattress, we need to do something to recover our posture.
Several times a day, take stock of how you’re standing or sitting. Make corrections and hold the correct position for fifteen minutes.
When you go to bed at night, arrange your position to support your legs, back, and neck. If you wake up in some weird contortion, rearrange and try again.
Shoulder Pull Back
Stand straight and grasp your hands behind your back. Pull back as far as possible and hold for 10-20 seconds. Feel the stretch in your shoulders and chest. If I have to stand for a while, I often hold my hands behind my back to pull my shoulders back rather than crossing my arms in front, which rounds off my shoulders. This posture habit is my number one habit to perfect.
Standing Side Bend
Touch your left hand to the side of your head and gently push your head to the right. Lean to the right until you feel a stretch along the left side of your body and shoulder. Take several deep breaths. Switch sides and repeat. This exercise helps your posture habit by stretching out the back muscles that get cramped from sitting too long.
Lie on your stomach with palms flat on the floor near your ribs. Extend your legs straight behind you. Slowly raise your head and chest off the floor. Keep your hip bones on the floor, and gaze down at the floor to relax your neck muscles. You should feel the stretch in your lower back. Slowly lower back down. This exercise helps your posture habit by strengthening your core muscles.
From the Back Extension, tuck your toes under and push your torso up into a position like a pushup (instead of supporting yourself on your palms with extended arms, you may also balance on your forearms.) Pull your abdominal muscles in to prevent a “sway back,” and gaze down at the floor. Hold the plank until you start feeling fatigued. Gradually increase the number of seconds you can hold the position. A full minute is the goal, but it’s okay if you only get 10 or 20 seconds to start with. This exercise helps your posture habit by also strengthening your core muscles.
Like the Door Stretch, but you can do it on a wall. Place your hand on the wall at or slightly above shoulder level. Step forward and turn out. Feel the stretch in the shoulder and chest.
This is the first exercise/stretch that you’ll need a piece of equipment for, but these foam rollers are awesome.
Now, to roll your back, put the foam roller on the floor and sit in front of it with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor in front of you. Slowly, lean back onto the roller and put your hands behind your head. Using your legs, lift your bottom off the floor and pull yourself back and forth letting the roller roll under you. Try to roll your entire back, but especially your upper back. You should feel the friction in your back muscles. If you’re very tight, it might be uncomfortable. If so, only do a few at a time until you’ve started loosening it up. The movement for foam rolling can also take some time to get the hang of, but hang in there! It is a great exercise! This exercise helps your posture habit by strengthening your core muscles and loosening up tight shoulder muscles.
- Pull your abdominal muscles in as you exercise.
- Work with slow, controlled movements and deep breaths.
- Do not hold your breath.
- Do as many repetitions or hold as long as you can without straining. Gradually increase.
- If you have severe pain at any time, stop and talk to your doctor.
Be sure to comment below with how you’re doing on the first three steps of your journey. We’ll start Step 4 next week. What will it be?!?