This is always a touchy subject for people! Although we all try for good posture, the body can often take over and revert to those comfy, slouchy, easy positions, you know what I mean! But saying “I just have bad posture” is not the answer! It can always be improved and has a bigger effect on your life and hobbies than you may think.
Not only is it nice to look at someone with a great, tall appearance, but having poor upper body posture also affects how your shoulders and neck moves, and can lead to neck pain, shoulder tightness and pain and weakened muscles in these areas. For example slouching over your desk all day causes your neck to be overloaded day after day. The muscles around the shoulders tighten and eventually get achey and painful.
For those who do sports or weights, good scapular control and stability is an essential part of having the correct technique. This utilises your body more efficiently and ensures you can deliver greater power and skill. The alternative of weaker scapular muscles means you are stressing the smaller rotator cuff tendons that support the shoulder but are not designed for withstanding heavier weights, and this is how injuries occur.
Use these two simple exercises to target these areas. By strengthening the muscles in between the shoulder blades you will offload the Upper Trapezius and neck muscles, improving posture, easing pain and tightness, and making your upper back work much more efficiently.
1) Dumb waitor/External rotation: Sitting upright with your elbows tucked in to your waist and elbows at 90 degrees, palms facing upwards and arms facing in front of you (like a waiter holding a tray in both hands!). Next open the hands outwards out to the sides like in the picture. As you do this imagine squeezing the shoulder blades together behind you.
Hold for 2-3 seconds then return the arms back in front of you. Repeat for 2-3 sets of 10.
2) Breaststroke prep: Lie flat on your mat face down with your arms by your sides. Draw the shoulder blades behind you, towards each other, pinching them together. Simultaneously raise the arms a few inches off the mat and reach your fingers down towards your toes. If you raise your forehead as well this will increase the intensity; or you can leave it on the mat for now.
Hold for 2-3 seconds and then lower everything back down. Aim to repeat for 2-3 sets of 10.