Needless to say, we as a population are sitting a lot these days. With that comes some serious postural issues. Most commonly, we see a forward head, forward shoulder, slouched posture that can lead to many physical issues.
The further forward your head leans out of alignment, the more stress this puts on your spine and the nerve bundles stemming from the spine, and thus can lead to more numbness, discomfort and pain in the shoulders, neck, arms and upper back.
More slouching forward can also impair our breathing, leading to lower oxygenation of our blood, and making us groggy throughout the day. Not something we need in an already sleep deprived society.
This posture can also become exacerbated by an imbalanced fitness routine, focusing predominately on the muscles in the front of the body – especially the chest and front shoulders. To fix this postural issue takes a three-fold, 24/7 approach.
How do you know that you have poor posture? Take a photo of yourself from the side. Stand relaxed as normal as possible. Your earlobe should about line up with your collarbone or front half of your shoulder. If your earlobe is in line with the front of your shoulder or further out, we have some work to do!
First, we need to focus on stretching the muscles of the front of the upper body – mainly the pecs/chest. A simple doorway stretch for the chest, or a lying foam roller stretch can be enough to really help “open” up the chest and shoulders. Lastly, we want to make sure we are stretching our thoracic (upper) spine into extension (arching back) – here is my favorite. Try each of these movements for 30-60 seconds each.
Second, we need to make sure we are strengthening the muscles of the upper back, and especially focusing on a 2:1 ratio of pulling to pushing exercises (think rows vs. bench press). My personal favorites are banded face pulls, band pull aparts and suspension trainer bodyweight rows. Start with 2-3 sets of 10-20 reps each, 3 times per week.
If you are strength training, make sure for every pushing exercise you do (push-ups, bench press, shoulder press) you are doing two pulling exercises. If you aren’t strength training, get started now with the previously mentioned exercises.
Lastly, we need to make sure we are reinforcing good posture at all times. All the work spent in the gym can be negated by poor posture at a desk for 8 hours a day. It can sometimes feel like a burden always reminding yourself to sit or stand tall, shoulder back, and chest up. This is where the Adjustable Posture Corrector comes into play. The Mueller Adjustable Posture Support helps to improve your overall health by improving your posture. Made from lightweight and breathable materials, this upper back support has a discrete and slim design that works under clothing or on top of clothing – so it can be worn practically anywhere!
I would recommend wearing it during the tail end of prolonged sitting or computer work to help reinforce correct posture. However, you don’t want to wear it all the time, because your body will actually begin to rely on it, and you may actually lose muscle strength in your upper back as the posture corrector could end up becoming more of a crutch and leading those muscles to atrophy or weaken. This is often seen when people break their arm or leg and need to get a cast. Because the cast is holding everything in place, the muscles don’t need to do their job. So, when the cast comes off, that limb is often visibly smaller than the other because the muscles have atrophied.
The protocol I would recommend to get the most out of this product and fix your posture for good would be:
Stretch your pecs and upper back for 60 seconds, 2-3 times per day – every day. Strengthen your upper back muscles with pulling or rowing exercises 2-3 times per week, for 2-3 sets of 10 to 20 repetitions each workout. Finally, wear the posture corrector during prolonged bouts of sitting to reinforce proper alignment. Continue this protocol until your posture has noticeably improved via the tests noted above.