The next time you’re at the grocery store or standing in line at the bank, take a casual glance at people around you. Observe how they stand. Notice their posture. Most of us stand as if gravity is about to take us down. “Stand up straight” isn’t just for teenagers or military personnel. It’s for all of us.
There are many elements to posture. In this article, we will focus on the shoulders and neck. I see many, many people that live with misaligned shoulders. Usually the shoulder joints are forward of the spine, the upper back is rounded, and the head is jutting even further forward. Why is this a big deal? Here are problems this misalignment can create
- neck and upper back pain
- early wear and tear of the shoulder joints
- decreased arm and shoulder mobility
- reduced space inside the chest cavity for heart and lung function
Clearly you don’t want even one of those issues. Imagine not being able to breathe as deeply because of misalignment and tightness in the shoulders and upper back. Also, your poor heart won’t have room to pulse. No good!
Poor shoulder positioning may not seem like a big deal for the first several decades of life. However, eventually poor posture becomes permanent. Let’s make sure this doesn’t happen to you.
Here are three action steps you can take to remedy this problem.
1. Observe human tendencies
Most people sit and stand with poor posture. Notice how a person looks and how their energy feels when they are slumped over. Then notice the person who stands tall. They are more energetic and confident. Doesn’t that person who is slumped over look like she likely is in pain? These observations can motivate you to stand tall.
2. Wall exercise
To feel the proper position of the shoulders, stand against a wall with your heels an inch or two away from the wall. Put your bottom and shoulder blades against the wall. Place the back of your head against the wall and then move it an inch forward of the wall. If your head and heels are touching the wall, they are too close.
Lift your sternum and feel your chest expanding. Gently move your shoulder blades down the back. Your chest should feel lifted and you should feel broader across your collar bones.
Breathe deeply a few times and notice how the head shoulders and upper back are aligned. This actually may feel uncomfortable if you’re not used to it. Eventually it feels natural.
3. Range of Motion (ROM) exercise
Moving the shoulders and neck through full range of motion feels great and dramatically improves mobility. Make arm circles, shoulder circles, and neck movements daily. If you don’t move your shoulders and neck eventually they will become immobile and you’ll be stuck. Don’t let that happen to you!
Do these three action steps and you’ll be far ahead of people who do nothing to improve their shoulder/neck mobility. These steps are simple and they help so much!