Can’t you just hear it? The words of your mother as she catches you slumping at the dinner table.
“Sit up straight... Stop slouching.”
Personally, I had no idea how important those words would be later in my life! Now I educate people all over the country on how to improve their posture to get rid of muscle and joint pain.
And I want to share the value of those words with you.
If you are dealing with neck and / or shoulder pain then I have some great news for you. In this article I’m going to teach you two exercises that will literally change your posture for the better (almost overnight) resulting in less stress and pain to your neck and shoulders.
Oh, and by the way, these two exercises are so easy to do that I have many of my 85 year old patients doing them.
But before we get started I want to give you a heads-up and a warning...
The “Heads-Up” and The “Warning”
Some shoulder and neck problems can be complicated. And sometimes it takes much more than a couple of exercises to alleviate the pain.
I’m going to share some exercises with you that can have a profoundly positive effect on your posture and help decrease (and in some cases get rid of) shoulder and neck pain.
But I want you to promise me (and yourself) something before you try them...
If you experience any increase in pain from either of the exercises - don’t do them.
Pain is a signal that something is wrong. If you do experience pain then your body is telling you something important and you should listen to it.
If you experience pain with these (or any other) exercises go and see a shoulder or neck specialist for help. Find out what’s wrong and get a plan to get better.
Okay... now on to the good stuff...
What IS Posture Anyway?
Posture is simply your automatic position when you are sitting or standing. Think of it as a snapshot of where your body is when you are sitting or standing “naturally”.
The next time you are out shopping or in a restaurant watch the people around you. Some people stand straighter than others. Some slump more. And the same is true for sitting.
Now consider what someone would see if they were observing you.
If it turns out that you are a slumper or a sloucher...The good news is that posture is just a habit. And like any other habit you can change it.
But aside from how it looks - you might be wondering why would you want to change it?
Because If You Have Neck or Shoulder Pain - Bad Posture Is Likely Part Of The Problem
When you slump you put your neck and shoulders in a bad position for movement.
Your neck goes into extension (like when you are looking up at the ceiling). Your shoulder blades spread apart and roll up and forward.
Both of these positions are less than ideal because you “bump up” on the end of range of motion when you move. And that puts the muscles and joints of your neck and shoulders at risk.
Starting from a better position (i.e. good posture) lets your muscles and joints move more freely with less risk of injury from normal daily motions. And re-training your body to be in a better position can give damaged tissue (i.e. neck joints and cartilage, your rotator cuff) a chance to heal.
2 Simple Exercises That (Sneakily) Improve Your Posture And Help Get Rid Of Neck And Shoulder Pain
These two exercises can transform your posture by re-training it. And they will start working the first time you do them.
To make things as easy as possible I’ve posted 2 videos that show you exactly how to do these exercises.
I suggest you watch the videos first and then read the instructions. Then watch the videos one more time. Okay... Ready?
The Postural Prayer Exercise
• Stand in an upright position with your feet approximately shoulder width apart. Make sure your knees are straight but not locked.
• Put your hands together (like you are praying). Your middle fingers should point up to the ceiling.
• Relax your shoulders.
• Lightly press your hands together.
• Raise your hands up towards the ceiling. Keep your shoulders relaxed and your middle fingers pointing up.
• When your hands are as high as they can go, separate your palms but keep your middle fingers touching. Rotate your palms up towards the ceiling.
• Slowly and with tension press your palms down to your sides. Let your elbows straighten and make your palms touch your outer legs.
• Hold this position for 3 seconds. Do 5 to 10 repetitions.
Cross Chest Band (or Tube) Pulls
Note: To do this exercise you’ll need a resistance band or tube. Any color will do.
• Stand upright with your head held high. Hold a resistance band or tube in your hands. Your hands should be about shoulder width apart and the back of your hands should face forward.
• Raise your hands to shoulder height. Your elbows should be straight and remain that way during the exercise.
• Pull the band or tube apart until it touches your chest. Keep your hands at shoulder height. Concentrate on squeezing your shoulder blades together during the pulling-apart motion.
• Relax and return to the starting position with your hands in front of your shoulders.
• Do 25 to 30 repetitions.
Now It’s Your Turn!
Stand up and try the exercises for yourself.
Both exercises can be done as often (per day) as you like. To get the most benefit do them at least once per day for a week or two.
After that do them at least once a week, or whenever you’d like experience the benefits of better posture.