We are a nation of poor posture…. slouching and internally rotated shoulders are the norm…. I bet that made you sit up straight, didn’t it? Don’t worry we’ve got a video at the end of the post to show you how to strengthen your back and correct your posture – I promise it will take less than 10 mins a day!
The shoulder is a complex joint with many muscles, bones, nerves and connective tissues fighting for space. If your shoulders are excessively internally rotated (i.e., rounded forward), you narrow that already-tight space, increasing the chance of pain and restricted mobility. A slouched upper back makes matters even worse.
I believe that incorporating some scapular retractions will help us all! That’s where Band Pull aparts come in; perfect for people who work at a desk, slouch, etc. they will surely benefit from them. In my opinion they are also great for incorporating into your training program. Best of all you can pretty much do it anywhere! So make it part of your daily routine… and pack a band even when you travel.
How do you know if you have internally-rotated shoulders?
Try the pencil test. Stand up with your hands at your sides and a pencil in each hand. Let your shoulders relax and your arms hang. In which direction are the pencils pointing? If they’re straight ahead, congratulations—you have good posture. If the pencils face toward each other, your shoulders are internally rotated, and your posture needs work.
Not only does it cause some muscular pain in your Thoracic (upper middle back) because your muscles are having to work harder… there are so many other negative side effects slouching does to you.
Here I have listed the top 5 most common negative effects slouching can cause:
1. Worsens Depression and Stress
In a study conducted by San Francisco State University, students were asked to walk down a hallways in a slouched position or by skipping. Those who slouched while they were walking experienced increased feelings of depression and decreased energy levels.
When the body is slouched and constricted, it prevents it from working optimally, which results in a poor mood.
When the body remains in a seated position for an extended period of time, all of your internal processes slow down. As a result, your energy levels decrease. You may start feeling irritable, tired or aggravated.
Slouching also causes your body to compress and constrict. When in this position, your heart and lungs are forced to work harder to pump blood and circulate oxygen.
This causes undue stress on your internal organs and your muscles. Sitting in an upright position with your shoulders and chest broad makes it easier to breathe.
2. Causes Digestive Issues
Sitting does more than just constrict your heart and lungs, it also constricts your intestines. This can make digestion uncomfortable and cause a host of issues. If you are experiencing digestive distress, you may want to take a closer look at your posture and how much time you are spending sitting each day.
Slouching has even been attributed to digestive issues such as acid reflux and hernias.
Poor posture may do more than just weaken your digestive system; it may also cause you to develop that unsightly belly pouch that women dread. This paunch affects both heavy and thin women and can be attributed to slouching and poor sitting habits.
To get a visual picture of this concept, think of what happens to an Oreo cookie when you squeeze it together. By sitting up straight, you will not only improve your digestion, but lose a few inches in your waist too.
3. Poor Breathing
The lungs function optimally when the diaphragm and rib cage can properly expand. Poor posture restricts blood and oxygen flow, which makes it difficult to breathe and speak.
Proper posture becomes even more important when engaging in physical exercise simply because the body requires a higher oxygen intake to meet the physical demands of the activity.
4. Back, Shoulder and Neck Pain
Back, shoulder and neck pain are the most common effects of poor posture, and the most noticeable. Sitting in a slouched position at your desk for an extended period of time puts a great deal of stress on your upper body, especially if your body is not properly supported. The most common pain areas include:
- Lower back – 63%
- Neck – 53%
- Shoulder – 38%
- Wrist – 33%
In time, poor posture can also cause a misalignment in the spine and lead to even more pain. In addition, it also causes joint stress. Joints are protected by connective tissues that create a supportive cushion. If the spine is misaligned, weight or stress needs to be redistributed to compensate for your slouching.
As a result, your joints are forced to bear a heavier load that may be more than it can handle. Eventually, this leads to pain and degradation of the tissues surrounding your joints.
A herniated disc is another spine issue that is often attributed to these habits. They tend to be most common in the lumbar region (The area of your spine between your ribs and your hips). The discs in your spine provide a supportive cushion for your vertebrae. When a disc is herniated, the inner part of the disc pushes through the outer layer.
This aggravates the nerves in your spine, causing numbness or pain in your arms, back or legs.
5. Tension Headaches
Tension headaches are another common side effect of poor posture. Office workers tend to experience more headaches simply because they are putting so much tension and strain on their bodies by sitting all day. The tension in your neck, shoulders and spine eventually work their way up to your head and cause a tension headache.
Obesity, muscle tone, shoes and pregnancy can make you more vulnerable to posture-related tension headaches.
More often than not, these headaches are attributed to a poorly set up workstation. Desks and monitors may be too high or low; chairs may not provide adequate support; and computer accessories may not be ergonomically designed for improved comfort.
Solution: Band Pull-Aparts
Fix your posture by strengthening your upper back with Band Pull-Aparts. Don’t be afraid to do lots of high-rep sets. It takes a lot of volume to undo the postural damage caused by too much slouching and heavy benching.
- Hold a light band at arm’s length with your palms down and hands shoulder-width apart.
- With your chin tucked and abs tight, pull your hands away from each other until the band hits your chest, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
- Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.
Do 1 set of 25 reps daily – for one week. Each week increase your sets by one – so on week 2 complete 2 sets of 25 reps… week 3 complete 3 sets and so on until you are at a total of 150 reps a day. I promise you will see a difference and you will definitely carry yourself with a stronger, more proud posture 🙂
TIP: As you can see in the video I am laying down – this is to help keep you from arching your lower back (think about belly button to spine – engaging the core) as you contract your rear delts.
To your health and wellbeing,