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Exercise to Improve Posture?

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Old 07-23-2008, 12:54 PM   #1
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Hiya,

Not sure if it was from being weighted down (literally) or if I was intentionally trying to curl in on myself to make myself less visible but I have a really nasty tendency to roll my shoulders up and forward so my chest sort of caves in (and that's an area I can't afford to cave since I've lost weight ) It's not like I have one of those "widow's humps" but I can sure see that happening in another 20 or 30 years if I don't fix this now.

I work out at home so I've been doing a simulated lat pulldown using resistance bands and am seeing a much nicer looking back but any time I am relaxed I still look like the tips of my shoulders are pointing forward instead of straight out to each side. I have also started using drive time to try and press my shoulders as flat as I can against the back of my seat and if I'm making a conscious effort I can hold myself pretty straight but I look stiff and, the instant I take my mind off of them, they go rolling forward again.

Is there an exercise I can do that will help me get a straight(er) back and shoulders but still look relaxed?
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Old 07-23-2008, 01:07 PM   #2
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any time I am relaxed I still look like the tips of my shoulders are pointing forward
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the instant I take my mind off of them, they go rolling forward again
The thing is that you CAN'T relax or take your mind off of good posture. You have to think about sitting and standing as straight as possible at all times - that is the only way your body will slowly adjust to proper posture!! It is a pain, but I have the same problem and my "relaxed" posture is not good at all.


Pelvic tilt – Lie on the floor with your knees bent. Your feet should be parallel and arms to the side. Tighten your lower abdominal muscles, pulling your navel and lower back towards the floor. You should do this without using your buttocks or leg muscles to help you. Do this five times, holding for five seconds each time.

Trunk Curls – Lie on your back on the floor, with knees bent. Place your hands lightly behind your head. Using your upper abdominal muscles, raise your trunk off the floor to about 20 degrees and hold for 5 seconds. Then lie down again slowly. Do not put any strain on the neck or lead with your head. Try to imagine touching the ceiling with your chest. Repeat five times.

Arm / Leg raises – Lie face-down on the floor, keeping your neck straight, with your legs extended and arms straight overhead. Then slowly raise your left arm and right leg about six inches off the ground. Hold for five seconds and lower. Repeat with the right arm and left leg. Repeat five times on each side.

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Old 07-23-2008, 01:17 PM   #3
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The thing is that you CAN'T relax or take your mind off of good posture. You have to think about sitting and standing as straight as possible at all times - that is the only way your body will slowly adjust to proper posture!!
I think you are right. I would sure like it to be at least a little more second nature though. Thanks for the exercises. I'm going to give them a try.
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Old 07-23-2008, 01:23 PM   #4
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I have the exact same problem, plus a bit of a bullish bump at the back of my neck (wow, that sounds attractive!) that sticks out all the more if I don't stand absolutely straight.

Yoga seems to help me quite a bit - a friend of mine who's a dancer has commented that my posture has improved since I started the classes, plus my heretofore almost constant back pains have all but vanished.

But I second Kitegirl, throughout the day I have to pay attention pretty much all the time. I try to apply what I learn in my yoga class - to keep my shoulders loose, my core tight, and my hips centered. Before, I was focusing too much on just holding my head high and keeping my neck and back straight, which not only looked unnaturally stiff but also became painful after a while...
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Old 07-23-2008, 01:29 PM   #5
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Yup. Attention.

I will say that any core exercises will help ... as those muscles strengthen, they'll help support your lower back which makes it easier to sit up straight. Pilates has helped me a lot (I've been taking it for about a month now and I love it). '

PS - As I was reading your post, I found myself sitting up straighter and pulling my shoulders back.

.

Last edited by PhotoChick : 07-23-2008 at 01:30 PM.
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Old 07-23-2008, 04:05 PM   #6
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.......to keep my shoulders loose, my core tight, and my hips centered. Before, I was focusing too much on just holding my head high and keeping my neck and back straight, which not only looked unnaturally stiff but also became painful after a while...
Yeah, that unnaturally stiff and painful thing is what I keep running into - which makes it sooo tempting to just go "ooooomf" and flop into a slouch. I like the yoga idea with the shoulders loose and hips centered. Do you think yoga DVDs would be of help or do you think it's really important to have the live instructor?


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Originally Posted by PhotoChick View Post
Yup. Attention.

I will say that any core exercises will help ... as those muscles strengthen, they'll help support your lower back which makes it easier to sit up straight. Pilates has helped me a lot (I've been taking it for about a month now and I love it). '

PS - As I was reading your post, I found myself sitting up straighter and pulling my shoulders back.

.
I am doing an exercise program at home (on DVD) that puts a lot of focus on core and balance and I have to say it's done wonders for the issues I used to have with lower back pain and definitely gotten rid of that sway-back old nag look I used to have. But, some of the moves are still challenging for me and I have to admit to letting my form slip when I'm trying to finish all the reps. Maybe I'll take a step back and work more on maintaining form and let myself build back up to staying with the instructor. Thanks for making my mind head in that direction

Also wondering if I may be sabotaging myself a little - Maybe all my efforts to keep "the girls" defying gravity are causing my pecs to *shorten up* and pull my shoulders forward? Don't know if that even makes sense but I know that I do big time stretches on all the other muscle groups to keep them (according to the DVD) from getting bunched up and bulky but I don't really do anything that stretches my chest. I guess most people would be looking for *bulky* in that particular area
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Old 07-23-2008, 04:38 PM   #7
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One thing that has always stuck with me from yoga and I find being reinforced in Pilates is the idea of "sit bones". My first ever yoga instructor always used to say 'find your sit bones' (the pelvic bones you can feel in your butt when you're sitting centered). I know that when I find my sit bones and center myself on them, the rest of my back automatically falls into line.

Then I concentrate on keeping my shoulders back and down from there.

I do a lot of work at my desk in front of the computer, so I also find that taking time every so often to rotate my shoulders, stretch my arms up and back, do head rotations, etc., makes a huge difference. If I forget to do those things, I wind up looking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame at the end of the day!

.

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Old 07-23-2008, 04:53 PM   #8
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One thing that has always stuck with me from yoga and I find being reinforced in Pilates is the idea of "sit bones". My first ever yoga instructor always used to say 'find your sit bones' (the pelvic bones you can feel in your butt when you're sitting centered). I know that when I find my sit bones and center myself on them, the rest of my back automatically falls into line.
.
Ditto that! Finding my sit bones was a big a-ha moment for me - especially for my forward stretches, but for sitting positions in general.

Yoyo, as for DVD vs. instruction - of course it's always preferable to have a good instructor who can correct your form - it's amazing sometimes how a little hands-on alignment can help. That's actually how I found my sit bones, come to think of it .

But if you find a good DVD with good explanations and also happen to have a large mirror in which to check your posture that would be a great start, I'm sure.
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Old 07-23-2008, 05:01 PM   #9
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One other thing that seems to always crop up when posture is concerned is the Alexander Technique. I know absolutely nothing about that but thought I'd throw it out there. Maybe somebody has a better idea about it or can share their experiences?
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Old 07-23-2008, 06:01 PM   #10
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..... "sit bones". My first ever yoga instructor always used to say 'find your sit bones' (the pelvic bones you can feel in your butt when you're sitting centered).

I do a lot of work at my desk in front of the computer, so I also find that taking time every so often to rotate my shoulders, stretch my arms up and back, do head rotations, etc., makes a huge difference. If I forget to do those things, I wind up looking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame at the end of the day!

.
You mean there's bones in there?!? I thought those were just oversized, really solid fat cells

OK, so if you start typing SANC-TU-AAARY at the end of your posts, we'll remind you to sit up straight. Sorry, sometimes my warped little sense of humor takes over and gets the best of me

Thanks guys, you've really given me some great ideas for improvement. In fact, instead of trying to press my shoulders against the back of my car seat on the way home today, I'm giong to try and center on my sit bones (as much as I can and still operate the pedals ) and concentrate on a solid core.
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Old 07-23-2008, 07:18 PM   #11
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Just a little PS - You would think just sitting square on your patoozie (especially one the size of mine ) would not be that big of a challenge - WRONG. For the last hour, since you guys told me about the "sit bones", I've been at my desk trying to sit on them. Discovered it can't be done if you cross your ankles and pull them under the chair AND as soon as I cross my ankles and throw off that center balance, the shoulders roll forward. Then I think I've found them again only to discover I'm concentrating so hard on keeping an even pressure on both of them that I'm holding my breath - or I'm letting my back arch - or, or, or. This is gonna take work Love it! Thanks again
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Old 07-23-2008, 08:54 PM   #12
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Discovered it can't be done if you cross your ankles and pull them under the chair
Oh yeah! Cause crossing your ankles is a major posture no-no! My biggest problem is that I like to tuck my left ankle under my right knee when I sit. Or fold my leg under me completely. Needless to say, that's not good for posture or joints when you're a "normal" weight ... when you're 240 lbs and 5'4" it's even worse. I got yelled at many times by my therapist for sitting like that ... it messed up my IT band something fierce and made therapy akin to torture for a while.

Yeah. YOu're supposed to sit with both feet flat on the floor at a height that keeps your thighs parallel to the floor ... and centered on your sit bones.

Uhuh. Like *anyone* does that all the time.

(She says as she slumps on the sofa, sideways, with the laptop on her lap!)

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Old 07-23-2008, 09:04 PM   #13
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I agree with Photochick about core exercises improving your posture. That's really all I've done--I do a lot of strength training and exercises that focus on my core. I don't do anything special for posture and I've only very recently started yoga. I also do a lot of cardio, including swimming once a week. With all of that, my posture has measurably improved. Literally--I now measure one inch taller than I did three years ago, before I started all this.

It's hard to say exactly what was the primary driver behind the one-inch gain in height, but I suspect it was the core exercises.
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