Keep Improving your Posture with these Exercises!

In my last post, I talked about my favourite stretches for improved posture. Although stretching is a useful tool for reducing pain and tightness in muscles from the long hours sitting at your desk, it is only half the battle. Because sitting leads to muscular imbalances, tight muscles are only one part of the problem. The other aspect that needs your attention, is strengthening. Your chest, neck and hips get tight from sitting, while their opposing muscles groups suffer the opposite problem, and become under active. The most affected muscles are the core stabilizers, glutes, and rhomboids.

Here are a few of my favourite exercises to help strengthen these under active muscles

Core: Dead Bug 

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Begin by lying flat on your back, then bring your knees up to a 90 degree angle and your arms straight in front of you. Using the opposite arm and leg, extend them outward as straight as you can while focusing on pulling your belly button to your spine and trying to keep your lower back flat on the floor. With control, bring your arm and leg back to the starting position, and then switch sides. Perform 2-3 sets of 12 reps per side with about 30 seconds rest between each set.

Glutes: Glute bridge

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Begin lying on your back. Bend your knees and plant your feet as close as possible to your bum. From here, think about squeezing your glutes in order to lift your hips up. Remember to keep your core engaged so that you don’t feel an arch in your lower back. Lower all the way back down to the ground, then repeat. Perform 2- 3 sets of 12 reps with 30 seconds rest between each set. If you wish to increase the difficulty, this exercise can be performed 1 leg at a time,

Rhomboids: Bent over row

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Take one dumbbell in each hand, palms facing each other. Hinge forward at your hips bringing your chest toward the ground without arching or rounding your back, and ensure that your knees are not locked out (if you’re new at this exercise, try watching yourself in the mirror to ensure that you keep your back flat).  Steadily pull the weights toward your body keeping your arms close to your sides. Think about squeezing your shoulder blades together and your shoulders down away from your ears. Pause and slowly return your arms to the starting position. Perform 2 – 3 sets of 12 reps with 30 seconds rest between each set.

Perform these exercises regularly, in combination with the stretches in my last post, and you’re well on your way to better posture, and reduced pain!

Stretch to Improve your Posture!

Lets face it, you spend most of your day sitting. You drive to work where you sit at your desk all day long, only to drive home, and sit at the dinner table, or on the couch. No judgment here, my couch is comfy too, but did you know that all that sitting is a big factor in bad posture, and subsequently back and neck pain?

Sitting all day, especially if you’re slumped forward reaching for your keyboard or steering wheel, leads to a handful of muscular imbalances. Specifically, tight muscles in your chest, neck, and hips. An important step to improving posture is stretching out these tight muscles. So without further ado, here are my favourite stretches for improved posture.

 

Doorway pectoralis stretch: 

2016-12-14-01-31-15-2Place your palms and forearms in either side of a door frame. Gently step forward just enough that you feel a stretch across your chest. You want to feel mild discomfort, but not pain, so if it hurts, ease off! Hold this stretch for about 30 seconds.

 

 

 

 

Upper trapezius stretch: 

Put2016-12-14-01-30-40 one arm behind your back. Place your other hand gently on the side of you head and pull to one side as if to bring your ear to your shoulder. Make sure that your chin and nose are still pointed straight ahead. Again, hold for 30 seconds, and remember that you are only aiming to feel mild discomfort. Repeat on the other side

 

 

 

Levator scapulae stretch: 

2016-12-14-01-30-47Similar to the previous stretch, place one hand behind your back. Your other hand will then reach for the back of your head, and gently pull downward and to the side as if you were trying to look into your armpit. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side

 

 

 

 

Hip flexor stretch: 

Place 2016-12-14-01-30-09-2one knee on the floor, and bring your other foot out in front of you in a lunge position. Once you feel stable, think about tilting your pelvis as if to tuck your bum under your spine. Then gently push your hips forward, keeping your chest tall. If this feels okay, you may also raise your arm on the same side as the hip being stretched. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

 

 

 

You can perform these stretches daily to help improve posture and reduce pain. Combine these stretches with a strengthening routine and you’re well on your way!

Pro-tip: To further reduce the negative effects of sitting, take stretch breaks during your work day. Just two minutes up and out of your seat every hour can make a difference!

Post a comment if you have any questions!

Improve your diet, meal by meal!

So you’ve made the decision to improve your diet and eat better, but you’re not really sure where to begin? First, I say kudos, and second, I want you to know that you’re not alone. Trying to change your diet can be pretty overwhelming, especially if you’re not sure what to change.

Often, when we decide we want to eat better, we go all in, and try to change every aspect of our diet and live off of what we imagine the “perfect” diet looks like. Here’s the thing… the “perfect diet” doesn’t exist! For one thing, each and every person has different needs and preferences, and secondly a complete overhaul of your diet, generally doesn’t promote sustainability.

If you read my post about New Year’s Resolutions, you’ll know that I am a believer in taking baby steps, and allowing yourself some room for “imperfections”. When it comes to the diet, I believe that the best way to create sustainable, and long term improvements, is to focus on changing one aspect at a time. You can start by taking a look at your current diet, and choosing one meal a day that you can improve. For instance, breakfast is a common issue. People in our society tend to skip breakfast or just have coffee, or grab something quick, convenient, and less than nutritious. So focus on improving your breakfast habits, and commit to eating a nutritious breakfast every day for a week. Once you’ve got that down, try changing another habit.

 

If you need a little breakfast inspiration, here is one of my favourite breakfast recipes, and it only takes a few minutes!

 

Overnight oats!

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  • ½ cup steel cut or rolled oats
  • 1 tbs pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tbs chia seeds
  • 1 tbs dark chocolate chips (just for fun!)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • Dash of maple syrup to taste
  • ½ cup almond (or other) milk

 

Mix together in a mason jar or small container and leave in the fridge overnight.

Grab from the fridge in the morning and eat!

For even more goodness, you may also wish to add some fresh berries in the morning.

 

Enjoy!