BetterPosture The #1 tip from 50 experts in posture improvement and back pain relief
Better Posture It’s how we show up. It’s how we move through space. It’s the embodiment of our spirit. It is our presentation of self at this moment. And this moment. And this moment. When our posture is bad, we feel bad. Our breath shortens, our body is stressed.
The stats are just as bad around the world.
Itâ€™s not surprising though, considering how many hours most of us spend sitting down at desks or in front of computers.
There’s Good News, Though!
We’ve got your back…literally. We went out and spoke to some of the leading experts in posture improvement and back pain relief from around the world. We put together a list of their top strategies and recommendations to help improve your posture and relieve back pain.
Since we’re publishing this in America, we have to include a disclaimer that every body is diﬀerent. Be smart about the tips: consult your doctor and never do anything that causes pain.
50 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR POSTURE & RELIEVE BACK PAIN
TIP #0.5 BETTERBACK BABY! Posture has been proven to have a HUGE impact on your experience of back pain—not to mention your mood, motivation and health. You bought BetterBack, now here are some tips for wearing it. BETTERBACK BABY: • Leave BetterBack on the chair you sit in most frequently. Every time you sit in the chair, strap on your BetterBack. • Airplane seats are practically medieval torture devices for people with back pain. Wear BetterBack when you travel, even on quick flights. • If you have a desk job, try switching between a stand up desk and sitting with BetterBack on throughout the day. You can use cardboard boxes, books or this $35 adjustable laptop stand to hack together a standing desk. • You can wear BetterBack all day when you sit, but stand up and move at least once an hour. Explore tightening and loosening BetterBack throughout the day to vary your posture.
Instructional video: https://youtu.be/hgdbmy6CaME
TIP #1 SHOULDER SQUEEZE When you slouch, it causes a long list of muscle and joint problems as well as inhibiting good breathing. This shoulder exercise, combined with focused core stabilization exercises, should eliminate almost all your postural strain. SHOULDER SQUEEZE: • While keeping your ears over your shoulders, and with your shoulders and hands resting, turn your hands so that your thumbs are pointing away from you legs (externally rotate your shoulders). This position of the thumbs locks the shoulder so that you cannot slouch. • Lift your sternum up while squeezing your shoulder blades together. This will ensure that the rib cage is open and your breathing is full and that your neck and posterior shoulder muscles are working and not straining forward.
Dr. Beverley Steinhoﬀ, BA, DC Dr. Beverley Steinhoﬀ is a Chiropractor and Clinic Director at Broadway AT Yew Chiropractic & Massage in Vancouver, BC, Canada. She has been in practice for 16 years and works predominately with back and neck pain along with occupational strain injuries. Her primary focus is on postural loading and educating patients on useful ways to balance their lives while using computers and sitting. www..vancouverbackpain.com
TIP #2 CONTROLLING TECHNOLOGY Donâ€™t allow technology to move your neck and back into a stressful position. Your ears should be in the same vertical alignment as the middle part of your shoulders. Focus on keeping your head back and your chin up. When you are using your phone, bring your hand to your head, not your head to your hand. Put your tablet on a stand or raise your laptop with a few large books so you can look straight ahead to see it. CONTROLLING TECHNOLOGY: I have my patients perform mirror image exercises to combat the forward head posture that I see so frequently. These exercises are performed to stretch the shortened muscles and to strengthen those muscles that have weakened in areas where postural muscles have adapted to asymmetric abnormal postures. These mirror image postural exercises have shown to improve the reduction of posture and spinal displacements.
Pull chin towards midline of your body
Lay over the edge of your bed, a couch or a bench
Dr. Robert Pomahac, BS, CSCS, DC â€¨
Dr. Robert Pomahac is the founder of MaxHealth LA, a full-service healthcare center providing services including chiropractic, physical therapy, functional fitness and nutritional counseling. He earned his D.C. from Southern California University of Health Sciences and an Honors B.S. degree in Kinesiology from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. www.maxhealthla.com
TIP #3 MOVE IT, MOVE IT! A lot of people think that if your back hurts you need to do less, but in reality sometimes doing less (like lying in bed all day or remaining in one position for hours) can actually make you and your back feel worse. MOVE IT, MOVE IT: • During the day, you’ve got to keep moving, but do it in a way that is pain free. • Strengthening exercises, watching your posture & body mechanics and doing aerobic activities will make your back feel better. • Keep it moving, people!
Dr. Talli van Sunder, DPT Dr. Talli van Sunder graduated from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington with a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry and a Doctorate in Physical Therapy. She is a Physical Therapist by trade and a health fanatic by passion. www.beinghealthy.tv
TIP #4 FOAM ROLL One of the best ways to help improve your upper back posture is to use a foam roll. A foam roll placed underneath your shoulder blade area of your upper back allows you to reduce the strain put on the upper back and neck from being hunched over. The foam roll pushes your vertebrae backwards reducing the pressure on the discs, ligaments, tendons and muscles. By using the foam roll everyday you can reduce the pain and stiﬀness in your neck and upper back as well as help improve your posture, and reduce muscle tightness. FOAM ROLL: • You’ll hold three postures (don’t roll; just lie over the foam roller) for 60 seconds each. • Lie down on your back with a foam roll placed slightly below your shoulder blades. • Lie down on your back with a foam roll placed at the shoulder blade area. • Lie down on your back with a foam roll placed just above your shoulder blades • Roll on to your side when getting oﬀ to avoid pain. • Foam rolling is best as a daily habit. Depending on how flexible your spine is, you’ll see results as early as 1 month in.
Dr. Ken Nakamura, DC, CAFCI
Dr. Ken is a chiropractor in downtown Toronto and he loves what he does! Dr. Ken is involved with sports chiropractic at events like the European Veterans Athletic Championships, Judo Ontario, The Police Soccer Championships and will lead a medical teams at the upcoming Pan Am Games in Toronto. www.bodiempowerment.com
TIP #5 WORK THOSE HIPS Greater than 90% of adults over 40 have evidence of osteoarthritis in the facet joints of their spine. With the plague of prolonged sitting increasing in our culture, we see a large percentage of the population with muscle imbalances that contribute to a forwardtilted pelvis, resulting in an excessive curve in the lower back. WORK THOSE HIPS: • One of the most eﬀective ways to eliminate or reduce chronic low back pain is to regularly perform a stretch of the front of your hip.
Video Instructions: http://bit.ly/1LejswW
Try following the “20-20 rule”: for every 20 minutes of sitting, stand and stretch for a minimum of 20 seconds.
Dr. Scott Wilson Dr. Scott Wilson is a licensed Chiropractor and Founder/CEO of Physiomed; a network of over 30 interdisciplinary paramedical health clinics featuring hundreds of highly skilled health care professionals from over a dozen disciplines. Over the past 20 years, Physiomed has helped improve the health and wellness of over 150,000 Canadians. www.physiomed.ca
TIP #6 PEC RELEASE This stretch will help release chest, shoulder and neck tension that comes with sitting at a work station all day. PEC RELEASE: • Once in the morning and once at night (at least), stand perpendicular to an open doorway and hold one arm at ninety degrees with the palm and forearm touching a doorframe. • Lean forward into the doorway and feel a nice stretch in the front of the chest. • While stretching, pinch the shoulder blades together in the back, pretending there is a pencil between them. • Hold for 30 seconds.
Dr. Laura Brayton Dr. Laura Brayton is a holistic chiropractor who is passionate about supporting the health and wellness of the families of her community.Dr. Brayton writes regularly on health-related topics and is a lecturer for various holistic groups in the community, including at yoga studios, childbirth education centers, and new moms’ groups. www.HobokenChiro.com
TIP #7 POSTURE PATROL Sometimes, building a habit just means creating opportunities to remind yourself to do the thing you set out to do, including better posture. POSTURE PATROL: • Try setting a watch, phone or computer to beep once an hour, every hour during the day. • Each time you hear the beep, use the sound to help remind yourself to be aware of your posture. • If you’re hunching over or not staying active in your posture when the timer goes oﬀ, try to pull your ears back in line with your shoulders and be “tall”. The important thing is to bring a habit of postural awareness into your everyday life. Here are two tools that can help remind you to check your posture when you are at your computer:
Talayna Fortunato Talayna is a Physical Therapist and CrossFit Games Athlete. She focuses on functional movements and the causes of dysfunction rather than treating symptoms in her practice. http://talayna.com/
TIP #8 ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK “Sitting is the new smoking” as the wags have it, and all this sitting (often in front of a screen of some sort) is perhaps the single, greatest attack on our bodies that we do every day. Just getting up, even for a few minutes every hour, alleviates a lot of the negative eﬀects of sitting. When you must sit, here’s something to try… ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK • Imagine a clock-face on your chair. • Now, take your bum for a tour, all the way around the clock—in both clockwise and counter-clockwise directions. • Notice what numbers are more diﬃcult for you to move through and focus on them. • Let your ribcage and neck go along for the ride with fairly big movements with your pelvis.
Thomas Myers Tom Myers directs Anatomy Trains, which runs continuing education classes for manual therapists and movement educators worldwide. He is the author of Anatomy Trains and co-author of Fascial Release for Structural Balance. Tom studied with Ida Rolf, Moshe Feldenkrais, and Buckminster Fuller, and has practiced integrative bodywork since 1975. www.anatomytrains.com
TIP #9 WALLETS & PURSES Did you know that the way you carry your wallets and purses can actually lead to back pain? Plus, studies have shown that a symmetrical posture of the head, neck, shoulders and hips, when held in an upright, solid posture is far more attractive (subconsciously) to potential mates.
FOR WALLET WEARERS • Never put anything thicker than a few pieces of paper in your back pockets. Sitting on your wallet causes pelvic instability that leads to low back/pelvic muscle imbalances, subluxation, degeneration and low back pain. • Place your wallet in your front pocket instead of your back pocket or reduce the contents of your wallet to the bare necessities.
FOR PURSE PEOPLE • Purses should never be worn on just one side of your body. Try to wear purses with long straps that you can put over your head and across your body. This helps distribute the purse weight evenly and prevents you from slouching forward while holding a bag.
Dr. Theodoros Kousouli, DC, CHt Dr. Theo Kousouli is a health and spiritual coach in private practice in Beverly Hills. He is the author of the life changing new book “Dirty Little Secrets of the Health Care industry” and has delivered over 1 million spinal corrective procedures to date. Dr. Kousouli has been featured on major networks including NBC, Bravo, E!, WB, and Fox news. www.DrKousouli.com
TIP #10 THE ALPHABET EXERCISE Follow these four exercises to strengthen your mid-back and improve your posture. THE ALPHABET EXERCISE: • Raise your arms over your head, forming a letter Y with your thumbs pointing back. Push your arms as far back as you can. Hold that position for 10 seconds. • Hold your arms out at shoulder level, palms facing up, forming a letter T. Push your arms back, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Hold for 10 seconds. • With your arms at your sides, flex your arms, forming a letter W, with thumbs pointing back. Rotate your arms back and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold for 10 seconds. • With your arms at your sides, bend at the elbows, forming a letter L, with thumbs pointing back. Rotate your arms back and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold for 10 seconds. • Repeat three times and enjoy the burn.
Dr. Jose Guevara Dr. Guevara is passionate about health and well-being, helping people attain and maintain their optimal physical condition. He received his Doctorate degree from Life University in Atlanta, GA. www.DrJoseGuevara.com
TIP #11 THE SIT & STRETCH Taking movement breaks every 20-30 minutes during the day will improve your posture, breathing, and overall sense of well-being. SIT & STRETCH: • Sit tall in your oﬃce chair and clasp your hands behind your back. • Keep your shoulder blades back and down as you lift your arms up away from your back. • Only go to the point where you feel a gentle stretch in your chest. Keep your spine and head in a relaxed, neutral position. • Hold for 5 deep breaths.
Ann Wendel Ann holds a B.S. in P.E. Studies with a concentration in Athletic Training from the University of Delaware and a Masters in Physical Therapy from the University of Maryland, Baltimore. She is a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC), Licensed Physical Therapist, and Certified Myofascial Trigger Point Therapist (CMTPT). www.prana-pt.com
TIP #12 FOUNDATION TRAINING Foundation Training exercises can help you improve posture, alleviate back pain, and enhance athletic performance by engaging the major muscle chains in your body and helping you identify and use proper movement patterns. FOUNDATION TRAINING: â€˘ Here is a 4 minute Foundation Training routine to practice better posture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOgxWp0WyiI
Dr. Eric Goodman, DC Dr. Eric Goodman developed the Foundation Training exercise program and continues to improve the quality of the work he shares with the world. He teaches Foundation Training workshops and certification courses while maintaining a small patient base. www.FoundationTraining.com
TIP #13 POSTURE PEDESTAL Most people are in the habit of leaning forward with their neck and lower back when they sit in front of a computer or at a desk, but all that forward momentum puts pressure on your neck and back. To prevent this, put something under your feet while you’re sitting at your desk! By stepping on something small underneath your feet while doing these type activities, it forces your entire body to naturally lean back in your chair, taking the pressure oﬀ your neck and lower back area. POSTURE PEDESTAL: • Leave a small foot stool or a heavy book (4-6” tall) underneath your desk or wherever you spend the most time sitting during the day. • Step on it whenever you sit to help practice better posture.
Dr. Kevin Kita Dr. Kevin Kita is a Chiropractor, public speaker, mind-body connection expert, and narrator. He authored the award winning book “Healing Journeys Stories of Mind, Body and Spirit.” http://amzn.to/1xnPXDB
TIP #14 POSTURE TRAINING For improved posture and proprioception, perform these two posture training exercises up to five times a day. POSTURE TRAINING: • STANDING // Move your body slowly from 100% (completely erect) to 0% (slouched) ten times. Each rep should take at least 10 seconds. • SITTING // Move from 100% (completely erect) to 90% (relax by just 10%) and try to maintain it as long as possible. • Muscle soreness is to be expected, but with practice you will be able to sit and stand for longer periods with great posture.
Dr. Yoav Suprun, DPT, Dip.MDT, CSCS Dr. Yoav Suprun graduated Hunter College in NYC in 1998 with a BA in Psychology and Biology and went on to complete a clinical Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT) at NYU. He currently runs South Beach Spine, a concierge physical therapy clinic in Miami Beach, Florida. www.sobespine.com
TIP #15 THE BACKWARDS BEND The nervous system needs variety. So, whether you’re at home or work, break up those long periods of sitting with simple exercise and stretching! THE BACKWARDS BEND • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Place your palms on your lower back, fingers facing the floor. • Without bending your knees, do a backward bend slowly and fully (think of being in a limbo contest!). • At the end of the backward bend, tilt your head and neck backward (not at first as this makes you think you’re going further back then you really are). Getting the full end range is key to convince the nervous system that the movement you do not perform often is safe. • Never push yourself to the point of pain or discomfort.
Erson Religioso, III, DPT, MS, MTC, Cert. MDT, CFC, CSCS, FMS, FMT, FAAOMPT “Dr. E” is an international lecturer in “The Eclectic Approach,” an evidence lead system of assessment, manual therapy treatment and patient education. In addition to teaching seminars, he has a Physical Therapy Practice in Amherst, NY where he specializes in treating spinal conditions, chronic pain, TMJ Dysfunction, and running/athletic injuries. www.facebook.com/the.ompt
TIP #16 SQUARING AND ALIGNING The “Squaring and Aligning” exercise helps to ease head, neck, and upper back tension while you’re sitting down. This movement also helps teach your middle back to hold your shoulder blades inward and down, helping prevent rounded shoulders and (Kyphotic) upper back posture.
SQUARING AND ALIGNING: • In a seated position, move your body towards the edge of your chair. • Next, bend your knees just past a 90 degree angle and tuck your feet in and under the chair toward your buttocks, keeping your heels on the floor. • Reach both arms out to the side while simultaneously squeezing your shoulder blades together and pressing them down towards the floor. (This is called “squaring” your shoulders, the exact opposite of a rounded shoulder posture). • Finally, tuck your neck inward (the opposite of jutting your jaw out) by looking slightly upwards at the ceiling and pulling your head directly backwards until it sits on top of your shoulders. (You’ll get this posture if you try to picture giving yourself a triple chin!)
Dr. Scott G. Duke, DC, DACBSP, CSCS Dr. Scott G. Duke, the author of Back in Action, is the principal owner at Duke Chiropractic, a multi-sport and spine rehabilitation facility in New York City. He specializes in the treatment and prevention of sport, spine and soft-tissue injuries. www.dukechironyc.com
TIP #17 BACK POCKET CHECK BACK POCKET CHECK EXERCISE: • Begin lying on a long foam roller with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. • Tuck in your chin and position your arms overhead forming the letter "Y". This will facilitate a natural stretch for your pectoral major/minor muscles (your chest muscles). • Next, exhale and slowly pull your elbows down and back as if sliding them into your back pockets. • Squeeze and hold this position for 2-3 seconds. • Finally, inhale as you return to the overhead position. • Perform 10-15 repetitions.
Brian Schiﬀ, PT, OCS, CSCS Brian Schiﬀ is a licensed physical therapist, board certified orthopedic clinical specialist, and fitness expert. He is the supervisor for EXOS @ Raleigh Orthopedic where he focuses on sports rehab and also serves as a PT consultant for the Carolina Hurricanes. www.BrianSchiﬀ.com
TIP #18 THE ROCKING CHAIR Use the rocking chair technique to relieve tension in your back, neck and shoulders during the day. THE ROCKING CHAIR: • Elevate your seat so that it's two to four inches higher than your knees and scoot toward the front of your chair, placing your feet flat on the floor. • Tip your pelvis forward until you feel pressure on the two pointy bones in your bottom, often called your "sitting bones.” • Ideally, use a chair that is firm, with just enough padding to cushion the bones. • Hold for 10 seconds • The “rocking chair" puts your weight into your feet, supporting your spine from the ground, whereas sitting against the back of your chair forces the muscles of your back, neck and shoulders to tighten.
Sukie Baxter Sukie Baxter is a posture and movement therapist and creator of Posture Rehab™, a program that helps you increase flexibility, decrease tension and stress and become the happiest, most confident version of yourself. www.sukiebaxter.com
TIP #19 DESK YOGA If you are experiencing tightness in your shoulders or your postural muscles are not strong enough to keep you in good posture throughout the day, try this yoga move at your desk. DESK YOGA: • Start with both feet firmly on the ground (sit towards the edge of your chair). • Raise your arms straight overhead and lift your chest upwards towards the ceiling, looking up with your eyes. • Take 5 deep breaths. • When you come back to sitting, you will be looser and more energized.
Nicole DeAvilla E-RYT500, RPYT, RCYT Nicole is a bestselling author, researcher, consultant and speaker. She is a pioneer in yoga therapy and prenatal yoga standards and served on the International Association of Yoga Therapists Accreditation Committee. www.YogaProfessionalAcademy.com
TIP #20 ARCH THAT BACK This is a very basic Pilates exercise. The movement is mainly made from your shoulders, trapeze, stabilizers back muscles, obliques, and core muscle. ARCH THAT BACK: • Get down on your hands and knees. • Roll your shoulder blades down your back and keep the natural arc in your lower back. • Inhale to prepare. • As you exhale, start a small arching movement backward with the small of your back. Try to elongate the abdominals. • Keep your lower back in a neutral position and activate the pelvic floor by tensing your stomach muscles. The movement is only about a 10-15cm arching of the lower back. • Inhale, come back to starting position. • Repeat 10 times.
Shay Harel Shay Harel is the founder of the “Posture and Mind” iStudio in Thalwil, Switzerland, a Balance Body™ Instructor for CoreAlign® and an expert in Master Pilates rehabilitation. www.shayharel.com
TIP #21 CHIN TUCK To alleviate the neck tension caused from looking downward, you can regularly explore the commonly ignored yet naturally available ranges of motion in the neck. Take a one minute break every twenty minutes and perform a chin tuck. CHIN TUCK: • Keeping your chin level and eyes forward, draw your head back. • While you hold the chin tuck, tip your head side to side, look right and left. Take a slow, smooth breath in each position. • Return to neutral • While you hold the chin tuck, look up as far as you can as though you were gazing at stars. Take a slow, smooth breath. • Breathing in each of the positions is essential to neutralize the threat signals caused by extreme postures.
Dr. Ben Fung, DPT, MBA (c) Dr. Ben Fung is a Physical Therapist and business consultant who has experienced every level of work in healthcare; from laboring as an aide to serving as a program director in settings such as major trauma hospitals to rural home care. www.DrBenFung.org
TIP #22 THE SWINGING BELL What is good standing posture, anyway? It’s still a mystery to many of us. Most people think that good posture is standing up straight while holding our shoulders back. Like our mothers told us to do when we were kids! But our bodies weren’t designed to stand using our shoulder muscles, our low back muscles or by contracting our buttock muscles. We are designed to stand using the deep postural muscles that we cannot feel or see. OK…So, then how do we really know when we are in the right alignment? THE SWINGING BELL • While standing, rock and roll your pelvis forward and backward, arching and curling, until your pelvis is centered on top of your femoral heads (the highest part of the thigh bone) and your low back muscles are relaxed. • Then, imagine that your rib cage is a bell swinging on top of your pelvis and that the bell hangs directly over the pelvis. • When your low back muscles are relaxed and your ribcage is lifted straight up oﬀ the pelvis with 2-4 fingers between the ribs and pelvis, then you know you’re in the ideal posture!
Bell Swinging Posteriorly
Bell Swinging Anteriorly
Rib to pelvis Ideal: 2-4 fingers vertically in line with armpit and hip
SHERRI BETZ, PT, GCS, CEEAA, PMA®-CPT
Sherri Betz has been a physical therapist since 1991, Board Certified Geriatric Specialist, PMA® Certified Pilates teacher, and director of TheraPilates® Physical Therapy Clinic. Ms. Betz fulfills her passion for bone health education by serving as Chair of PMA Certification Commission, Research Committee and APTA Bone Health Special Interest Group. http://www.therapilates.com
TIP #23 GETTING DOWN What’s the easiest way to make a change in posture? Get down on the floor. Going down, moving, and getting up oﬀ the floor works muscles and movement patterns in a way you cannot get from standing. When you get to the floor, you can perform a “Wolverine” GETTING DOWN: • Lie on the ground, face down. • Spread your arms and legs out like an “X”. • Slowly tense your entire body starting from your buttocks out to arms and legs. Hold for 4 seconds and repeat 4 times. • Do not hold your breath. Breathe normally. There should be no pain anywhere. • In the beginning you may find it diﬃcult to move your arms high because of tightness in the front part of your body. Just go to a comfortable position. • Do this every day, preferably in the morning to supercharge your body.
Perry Nickelston, DC, NKT, SFMA, FMS Perry Nickelston is the owner and Director of Stop Chasing Pain, a company dedicated to teaching and educating people on taking back control of their lives from pain. Author and teacher, Dr. Perry has Primal Movement Workshops across the country. www.stopchasingpain.com
TIP #24 LIFT WITH YOUR LEGS The human spine is not well-designed for upright posture. The discs in humans are constantly under compression and bending forward without support will increase wear on spinal discs over time. The one piece of advice every human being needs to live by is: “No unsupported bending at your waist and use your legs, not your back to lift”. Most back problems could be prevented with this simple concept. LIFT WITH YOUR LEGS: • When lifting, It’s important to lift with your legs and not your back. Do not attempt to lift by bending forward. • Bend down into your hips and knees and squat down to the load. • Lift the object close to your body with your feet about shoulder width apart. • While lifting up, try to keep the back straight and stomach muscles engaged. • Avoid turning or twisting your body while lifting or holding a heavy object.
Dr. David Hanscom, MD David Hanscom is a Seattle-based orthopedic spine surgeon who specializes in complex spinal deformity. He feels that most spine surgery should never have been performed. He has developed a structured approach to chronic pain that has resulted in hundreds of patients becoming pain free with and without surgery. www.back-in-control.com
TIP #25 FITNESS WALKING Fitness walking challenges you to maintain a straight posture and fights the eﬀects of inactivity. Your eﬀort level should be high enough to raise your heart rate to a moderate exercise level. As you walk, focus on maintaining proper form, balance, and symmetry. FITNESS WALKING: • Stand with good vertical alignment of the spine, shoulders, back and head balanced over the midline of your shoulders. Keep your head level and chin tucked back. Tighten all your central and abdominal body muscles. • Walk forward with a full-footed (heel to toe) stride. Keep your feet pointed straight ahead and push oﬀ through your big toe. • Use your arms to keep your body balanced. Coordinate your arm swings with your walking motion, keeping your arms close to your body and elbows bent 90 degrees.
Bruce R. Wilk, PT, OCS Physical therapist Bruce Wilk is the director of Orthopedic Rehabilitation Specialists in Miami, Florida. His self-help books include “The Running Injury Recovery Program” and teach runners how to evaluate and treat many of their own running injuries. Wilk also teaches specialized courses in injury management for professional organizations, medical schools, and the military. www.wilkpt.com http://www.postinjuryrunning.com
TIP #26 SELF ALLEGIANCE Here is a technique to strengthen the neural connections between your brain and your body in three steps. SELF ALLEGIANCE: • Put your hand over your heart. • In 15 seconds, think of 3 aspects of your back pain, your frustration, and your concerns. • Slowly, smile a gentle smile with your mouth, cheeks and your eyes. Then slowly take a breath and say out loud, “I’m OK…It’s going to be OK.” • Repeat 5 times. Or Whenever You Need a Hug.
Ruthi Backenroth, MBA Ruthi Backenroth uses the power of neuroplasticity to help people get relief from chronic back pain. She provides mental exercise to retrain the brain and stop the pain signals. www.breakthroughrelief.com
TIP #27 DOWNWARD DOG Downward Dog is an amazing stretch and strengthening posture. It stretches the feet, ankle joints, calves, hamstrings, lengthens the spine and opens the chest and shoulder joint. DOWNWARD DOG: • Get on the ground, with your hands and feet flat on the floor. • Spread your fingers and toes, gently pushing the ground away from you as you push your hips towards the sky. • While 'hanging out' there upside down, let your head drop. It lengthens your neck with the assistance of gravity. Your arms and shoulders also gain strength and mobility—useful for better posture while lifting/carrying—while supporting the weight of the body.
Lucy Howlett Lucy is a vinyasa flow yoga teacher and personal trainer based in Brighton and Hove. She specializes in postural correction as well as pre- and post natal exercise. Lucy has a passion for teaching and inspiring others to better themselves both physically and mentally, through a combination of movement and meditation. www.liftpersonal-training.co.uk
TIP #28 REAR VIEW CHECK Maintaining excellent posture while driving can be diﬃcult. Here's a quick tip to attain and maintain proper posture in your car while driving. REAR VIEW CHECK: • Get in your car and sit with the best posture you can—shoulders back, natural lumbar lordosis (curve in your low back) and engaged abs. • While maintaining excellent posture, adjust your rearview mirror so you can see out the back window. • Then, check your mirror again periodically while you’re driving. • If you can’t see out the back window, you know your posture has slouched a bit. • Straighten up into perfect posture again so you can see behind you with your mirror.
Brett Sears is a physical therapist who owns a private practice in upstate NY. He is certified in the McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy and specializes in the conservative treatment of back pain, neck pain, and associated disorders. Brett is also a freelance writer and is the Physical Therapy Expert at About.com. www.physicaltherapy.about.com
TIP #29 WALL TEST The “wall test” is a simple way to check and correct your standing posture. WALL TEST: • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, heels 4 to 6 inches from a wall, and buttocks, shoulder blades and head touching the wall. • Place one hand behind your lower back. There should be just enough room for one hand to fit snugly between your back and the wall. If there is too much room, contract your abdominal muscles and flatten your back. If there is too little room, arch your back so that there is enough space. • You are now in correct postural alignment. Hold this position while bringing awareness to which parts of your body feel comfortable and which need to be re-trained. Try to maintain this posture throughout the day, repeating as necessary.
Dr. Brett Auerbach, DO, DPT Brett Auerbach is the Chief Orthopedic Surgery Resident at North Shore- LIJ Plainview Hospital located in Long Island, New York and is also a Doctor of Physical Therapy. www.brettauerbach.com
TIP #30 ROLL WITH IT Try using a foam roller to alleviate neck and shoulder pain while opening your chest to improve your posture. ROLL WITH IT: • Lie face down on your mat with a foam roller above your head; rest your forehead on one hand. With the other hand, place your wrist on the roller. • Reach and extend your arm above your head and then pull your arm and shoulder down your back, keeping your elbow straight. • Repeat 8 times and then switch arms. • After completing the single arm exercises, perform the same exercise with both arms at the same time (8 repetitions). • Finish by coming up to an open chest extension (5 repetitions).
Cathy Amenta LMT, NCTMB & Reiki Master Cathy Amenta LMT, NCTMB & Reiki Master specializes in Therapeutic Massage for the treatment of acute and chronic muscular discomfort and stress including back pain, headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain and hip pain. Cathy graduated with top honors from the Massage Therapy Institute of Colorado in 1998. www.CrestoneMassage.com
TIP #31 FIGURE FOUR STRETCH This “Figure Four Stretch” helps stretch the hip socket region. Stretching your hip sockets is important to keep the hip joint healthy and protect your lower back and pelvis from the immobility from sitting all day. FIGURE FOUR STRETCH: • Start by sitting in a chair. Bend one leg and place your ankle on top of the opposite knee. This crosses your legs over and makes it look like a figure of four, hence the name. • Once you are in the figure of four position try to sit upright. It should look like someone is pulling a string attached to the top of your head and making you taller. This helps to stop the rounded shoulders eﬀect of a slumped posture. • Now gently pull your chin in to straighten your neck. If it feels like you are creating a double chin eﬀect, you don't need to pull your chin in that far. • You should feel the stretch in your buttock or thigh region. If not, bring your chest forward, towards your desk, until you feel the stretch. When you lean forward it looks like you are leaning forward to read your computer screen.
Dr. Gary Kirwan Dr. Gary Kirwan is a Doctor of Chiropractic with a keen interest in selfdevelopment and biohacking. He practices what he preaches and it isn't unusual to find him experimenting with a new concept or gadget on himself. He has a clinic in Berkhamsted, UK and active blog. www.chirocentre.co.uk .
TIP #32 NECK STRETCH Many people today are constantly in a slouched, raised shoulder position, causing the levator scapula muscle to be shortened. Chronic shortening of the muscle causes it to become tight and fatigued, and at the end of the day, people experience tension headaches and neck pain. Doing a levator scapula stretch a few times throughout the day will help relieve some of the tension on that muscle. NECK STRETCH: • Place your right hand behind your back, towards your left hip. • Place your left hand over your head, gently pulling it towards the left shoulder until a stretch is felt. • Tuck in your chin to chest, and rotate your head towards your left armpit • Take full deep breaths, and you can gently increase your stretch as your breath out. • Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds and then repeat on the opposite side.
Dr. Grace Madarang, DC Dr. Grace Madarang is a chiropractor at Core Chiropractic Center in Folsom, California. She’s provided chiropractic care from families to athletes all over Northern California. Her passion is to serve the community to help their bodies reach is optimal health and function through chiropractic care. www.corefolsom.com
TIP #33 COMPUTER SCREEN ERGO There is no one best ergonomic position. Your body was designed to be moving! Try attaching your computer monitor to an adjustable arm, so that you can move it—and your body— throughout the day. A monitor that swings from standing to sitting positions is ultimately best. Try to vary your postures throughout the day. COMPUTER SCREEN ERGO: • When you must sit, bring your monitor just above your eye level to reduce forward flexion in the neck as this can be damaging to the cervical spine. • Don’t just look forward; look up to accentuate the positive natural arch in the back of your neck.
Dr. B.J. Hardick Dr. B.J. Hardick is the co-author of Maximized Living Nutrition Plans, contributing author for The Cancer Killers, advisory board member for GreenMedInfo.com, and is in private chiropractic practice in London, Ontario, Canada. He maintains an active natural health blog and recipe site. www.DrHardick.com
TIP #34 NECK CORRECT When we slouch, slump, or hang our heads to text, our cervical spine spends the day in perpetual flexion and very little extension. This easy addition to your day will promote the natural lordosis (curves) of your cervical spine while also giving the overworked muscles at the base of your skull a much needed rest. NECK CORRECT: • Take a medium-sized bath towel and fold it into thirds. Then tightly roll the towel up. • Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. • Place the roll under your neck and lay there for 15 minutes.
Brandon Harshe, D.C. Brandon Harshe, D.C. is a husband, a father to six children, and a practicing chiropractor in the Austin, TX area at Austin Avenue Chiropractic, where he oﬀers aﬀordable chiropractic care to entire families. http://austinavechiro.com
TIP #35 SLEEP POSITION Your posture during sleep is a major contributor to neck and back issues and key to your health. No matter what position you lie in, the pillow should be under your head, not your shoulders, and should be a thickness that allows your head to be in a neutral position. SLEEP POSITION: • Try to sleep in a position which helps you maintain the curve in your back. You can lie on your back with a pillow under your knees or a lumbar roll under your lower back. Or you can sleep on your side with your knees slightly bent with a pillow between them. • Select a firm mattress and box spring set that does not sag. If necessary, place a board under your mattress. You can also place the mattress on the floor temporarily if necessary. • When standing up from the lying position, turn on your side, draw up both knees and swing your legs on the side of the bed. Sit up by pushing yourself up with your hands. Avoid bending forward at your waist. • Make sure you drink enough water so the muscles and discs in your spine can do their job supporting you.
Dr. Ian Horseman, B.Sc., D.C. (Hon) Dr. Horseman has been a chiropractor for 23 years and has never stopped finding new ways for correcting the spine and improving posture. He was mentored by the father of posture correction, Burl Pettibon, was for nearly two decades.
TIP #36 WATER WORKOUTS One of the many benefits of having excellent posture is the ability to enjoy an active lifestyle without injury. Conversely, an active lifestyle can help cultivate good posture. While you are still honing your posture, water is a perfect medium to train in since your buoyancy will reduce impact on your joints. In this forgiving medium, you can safely increase your muscle strength, stamina and flexibility while exploring the nuances of natural posture. WATER WORKOUTS: The breaststroke and the butterfly stroke provide an intense workout for your internal obliques, or the "rib anchor" muscles. The internal obliques keep the front of the ribcage flush with the contour of your torso. This â€œrib anchorâ€? is our best defense against swaying the back and are especially important for the health and safety of your spine. In these strokes, there is a strong tendency to arch or sway your back every time you come up for air. Next time you attempt the breaststroke or butterfly, try to come up with your entire upper body, just enough to breathe, without a sway. Your lumbosacral juncture will gain flexibility and your internal obliques will get a challenging workout.
Instructional Video: http://bit.ly/1kTabop
Esther Ghokale Esther Gokhale is the creator of The Gokhale Method, an ecosystem of posture education, products, and community to help people recover a pain-free life. Her mission is to help people eradicate unnecessary pain and live their best lives. www.GokhaleMethod.com
TIP #37 DON’T TUCK THE BUTT One of the biggest myths about “good posture” is that tucking the pelvis helps protect your back and improve your posture. Since the 1970’s, Noelle Perez-Christiaens has researched populations in less industrialized cultures that don’t have back pain and found that healthy people have a natural arch at the base of the spine, right above the sacrum. Tucking the pelvis eliminates this arch, leading to a spine that curves as you age, loses height, damages the vertebrae and discs, and causes pain. DON’T TUCK THE BUTT: Relax your pelvis and aim for vertical legs, rather than slanted legs. • Your pelvis should be over your ankles, not in front of them. • Your back will thank you, and you’ll be on the road to a healthier spine and more youthful posture.
Dana Davis, MA Dana Davis is a Certified Teacher by the Balance Center, where she has studied with Jean Couch (author of “The Runner’s Yoga Book”) since 1996. She graduated from the Advanced Studies Program at the Yoga Room and is certified to teach Yoga for Scoliosis. www.sonomabodybalance.com
TIP #38 THE BRUEGGER’S STRETCH Think of a healthy, older person that you know. Now picture an unhealthy, older person. What are the main diﬀerences between them? Their posture. As a chiropractor, I see how important proper posture is on a daily basis—posture dictates your health. The sooner you start to improve your posture, the healthier you will be. The “Bruegger's Stretch” is a simple and easy stretch you can do throughout the day, ideally, one of these for every 20 minutes spent at your computer. THE BRUEGGER’S STRETCH: • While sitting, stretch your arms out to your sides, palms up. • Then stretch your arms back to bring your shoulder blades together, while bringing your head back. • Hold for ten seconds.
Video Instructions: http://bit.ly/1QBe8L4
Dr. Dan Kehres Dr. Dan Kehres is a chiropractor from Michigan with a determination to make his home state a healthier place. His passion for health extends to physical health, nutrition, stress management and fitness. Known for teaching true health, Dr. Kehres is an advocate for moderation, common sense and veggie shakes. www.KehresHealth.com
TIP #39 STIFF BACK ROUTINE Have you ever woken up with an achy stiﬀness in the back that instantly becomes more intense the moment you try to stand upright? Does your back also feel extremely stiﬀ and fragile during these times? This “Stiﬀ Back” routine can be repeated throughout the day and will provide significant relief for your back. Don’t forget to drink plenty of fluid and try to carefully get up and move once in a while – motion is the cure! You’ll stay lying down to perform each of these exercises… STIFF BACK ROUTINE: • For a warm up, lie down and place a hot water bottle under the small of your back for 20 minutes. • For the first exercise, bring your knees to your chest and gently rock back and forth for 60 seconds. • Rest with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor for 30 seconds. • Perform 5 reverse curl-ups: lying down, slowly bring your knees towards your chest and embrace them. • Repeat the sequence three times.
Slava Mamizev Slava Mamizev is a Neuromuscular, Physical, and Sports therapist. A Pilates and Yoga Instructor, Back Care and Rehabilitation Specialist and owner of the “Back Pain and Posture Clinic”. www.backpainandpostureclinic.com
TIP #40 HISSING BREATH Does sitting at the computer drain your energy and make you feel like collapsing? You can remedy this with a simple breathing technique called “Hissing”. HISSING BREATH: • Inhale your breath. • On your exhale, make a long, slow “ssss” sound. Exhale all of your air out, but don’t force the last bit. • The key to eﬀective ‘Hissing’ is to put as little eﬀort into it as possible. Hissing should be like letting the air out of a tire. After a couple of rounds of hissing, you may find your mind feels more refreshed and your shoulders and neck more relaxed.
Anne Asher Anne Asher is an ACE certified health coach and orthopedic exercise specialist, the author of “Inside Out Pain Relief” and the Back and Neck Pain Expert on About.com. Anne has 20+ years experience working with people in pain as a holistic movement therapist. www.posturally.com/posture-tip/
TIP #41 CHEST OUT POSTURE Sitting at a desk for eight hours a day is not only unnatural, but it’s unhealthy for the human body. I recommend that after every 1 hour of sitting, you stand up and do a “chest out” posture exercise for one minute. CHEST OUT POSTURE: • Stand with your back against a wall • Slightly bend your knees • Rotate your pelvis under so that your lumbar spine flattens against the wall. • Rest your head and neck comfortably. • Raise your arms in front of your body and over your head, while you are keeping your lumbar and thoracic spine pressed flat against the wall. • Breathe normally throughout. • Try 10 repetitions, done once after every hour of sitting.
Robert G Watkins, IV, MD Robert Watkins IV, M.D., is co-director of Marina Spine Center and Chairman of the Surgery Department at Marina Del Rey Hospital. Dr. Watkins is a boardcertified orthopedic spine surgeon, specializing in minimally invasive spine surgery, computer-assisted surgery, spinal-deformity treatment, and disc replacement. www.watkinsspine.com
TIP #42 THE TIGHT CORSET The tight corset exercise is excellent for strengthening the core. The core is comprised of our stability muscles that wrap around our middle and help to support the lumbar spine — two places where weakness leads to poor posture. THE TIGHT CORSET • Get down on all fours, with your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips, eyes looking at the floor. • Breathe deeply. • As you exhale, lift your right arm and left leg out straight, to be level (or as close as you can get) with your body. • Don't lean into your right hip to support yourself. Counterbalance by engaging your core-stability muscles instead. They're like a corset wrapped around your middle— imagine pulling it in tight. • As you inhale, lower your arm and leg back to the starting position, ensuring that both touch the floor at the same time. • Exhale, and raise the opposite arm and leg. Inhale, and lower. Keep moving with each breath. • Aim for 10-20 raises in total.
Dr. Kevin Lau Dr. Kevin Lau is an award winning chiropractor and the founder of Health In Your Hands, a series of tools for Scoliosis prevention and treatment. The set includes his bestselling books Your Plan for Natural Scoliosis Prevention and Treatment, Your Natural Scoliosis Treatment Journal, Your Scoliosis Treatment Cookbook, An Essential Guide for Scoliosis and a Healthy Pregnancy and The Complete Scoliosis Surgery Handbook for Patients. A companion Scoliosis Exercises for Prevention and Correction DVD, and the innovative iPhone and Andoid application ScolioTrack and Scoliometer App. http://www.hiyh.info/
TIP #43 EXERCISE BALL CHAIR Your body needs motion throughout the day. One of the easiest ways to achieve this is to swap out your chair for an appropriatesized exercise ball. This will really help keep the joints moving, which keeps them lubricated. It also increases your core muscle strength, which will provide more support and stability to your lower back. EXERCISE BALL CHAIR: • Ease yourself into sitting on an exercise ball throughout the day. • Start with just an hour a day for the first few days. • Gradually increase the time until you're sitting on the ball all day.
Dr. Kelly Shockley Kelly Shockley received her Doctor of Chiropractic at Western States Chiropractic College in Portland, OR in 2005. She is an associate instructor and an Advanced Proficiency rated doctor for Activator Methods of Chiropractic Techniques. www.abdlife.com
TIP #44 THE SINKER Most people get disc bulges when they're bent over. When you brush your teeth, wash your face or do dishes, you’re often hunched and bent over the sink for a few minutes. I’ve seen many patients over the years who’ve gotten hurt doing these simple tasks! There’s an easy habit you can incorporate into your life to make sure this doesn’t happen to you. When you have to do something over a sink, open the cabinet below the sink. Put one foot on the floor of the cabinet, elevated oﬀ the ground. It doesn't matter which one. It will make bending over more comfortable on your back and make you less at risk for a back injury.
Dr. Daniel Lorenz, DPT, PT, LAT, CSCS Dr. Dan Lorenz is the owner and Director of Physical Therapy at Specialists in Sports and Orthopedic Rehabilitation (SSOR) in Overland Park, KS. He is a fellowship-trained sports physical therapist and formerly was an assistant athletic trainer and physical therapist for the Kansas City Chiefs.
TIP #45 BODY JENGA Imagine that your body is made up of lots of separate blocks—your feet, pelvis, chest, and your head. These blocks need to be straight, aligned and close to one another. Think Jenga! You don’t want your stack of blocks to fall over! BODY JENGA: • Start with your feet. Sway back and forth, then side to side until you feel your feet are stable on the ground. • “Stack” your pelvis on top of your feet. • Now, your chest needs to go “on top” of your pelvis. • Last, “stack” your head on top of your chest without moving any of your other blocks! Your result should be an erect, standing posture. • When you are waiting in line or waiting for someone, think of playing body Jenga and stack your blocks. Or, try using the start of an activity you already do, like sitting at your computer or cooking, as a trigger to remind you to stack.
Tamer Issa, PT, DPT Tamer S. Issa, PT, DPT is a physical therapist, board certified orthopedic clinical specialist, certified orthopedic manual/manipulative therapist, instructor, lecturer, and owner of a private practice in North Bethesda, MD. http://www.issapt.com
TIP #46 THE BOAT EXERCISE To improve your posture and reduce back pain, try this tip from Ballet Body Sculpture. THE BOAT EXERCISE: • Lay on your stomach with your arms and legs stretched straight, shoulder distance apart. • Lift your legs and arms at the same time, with your shoulder blades pushed down and your head in line with your spine.
• • •
Hold the position for 10 counts. Relax for 5 seconds between lifts. Repeat 5 - 7 times.
When you are done with the boat exercise, sit on your heels, resting your chest on your knees. Release the tension in your neck and reach your hands forward for a great stretch.
Kern Frost Kern Frost is the founder and program creator of Ballet Body Sculpture, Asta Bazeviciute. Taking the secrets of health and beauty from her international ballet career, Asta created a unique mind and body program for women seeking to develop natural grace, toned body, elegance and perfect posture. www.balletbodysculpture.com
TIP #47 EYES STRAIGHT Our eyes can have an impact on the muscles throughout the body. For instance, the same nerves that connect the eye muscles to the brain also connect the neck muscles to the brain. Our perception of our environment changes when the muscles responsible for moving our eyes are out of balance. In order to address this oculomotor asymmetry, specific eye convergence exercises are used. EYES STRAIGHT: • Try this near and far exercise by converging the eyes evenly towards the bridge of the nose (crossing your eyes), and then looking into the distance. This will help keep your head level and in turn relieve neck pain, increase the range of motion of your neck and even improve your posture. • This should be done with 10 repetitions first thing in the morning and/or after spending long periods in front of the computer.
She is attempting to converge her eyes by looking at the tip of the pen. Her left eye is unable to converge.
She does a near far exercise by looking at the finger that is farther away from her face, for a half second, and then focusing on the one closer to her nose and holding that for a second (if you see double, adjust by moving the finger farther away from your face).
Rafael Torres With over a decade of hands-on experience, Rafael Torres is the developer of ‘Movement & Posture Restoration’. He is also a Posturologist and Muscle Activation Techniques specialist. He works with high level athletes including professional Mix Martial Artists and NBA players. www.torresfitness.com
TIP #48 STOMACH SITTING Practicing a passive. reverse back stretch will help increase circulation, improve your overall posture and relieve tension in the lower back. STOMACH SITTING: • When watching TV or reading, periodically try laying on your stomach, with your head and feet raised. Although this position may be uncomfortable at first, give it some time because it actually has tremendous benefits! • Notice the alignment of your spine in this position: an exaggerated rearward curve. Over time, this form of stretching or "passive exercise" helps maintain the natural curve in your spine. • This body position emulates the famous “cobra” yoga position that benefits posture, except now you can multitask.
Robert Gearhart Jr., RN Robert Gearhart Jr. is a registered nurse and co-inventor of the BODY-ALINE. His background in personal training, massage therapy and nursing, combined with his personal experience as a back pain suﬀerer, inspired the BODY-ALINE —a first-of-its-kind exercise machine specifically designed to strengthen the back & realign posture in one simple motion. www.bodyaline.com
TIP #49 THE PLANK Bad posture doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years of bad habits to create bad posture. Thankfully, it won’t take years to correct it! You can make small changes, such as increasing your core strength, to improve your posture. A stronger core = better posture and decreases the risk of back or neck pain. One exercise you can do daily to improve both your core strength and posture is The Plank. THE PLANK: • Law face down on a floor or mat. • Lift yourself oﬀ the ground with all your weight on your forearms and your toes. • Your elbows should line up directly underneath your shoulders and your toes should be on the ground directly underneath your ankles. • Engage your abs and squeeze your butt to create a straight, strong line from head to toes. • Hold the position for 30 seconds.
Makenna Jo Makenna Jo is the owner and Director of Fitness and Wellness of MacJoFit. She has been involved in health and fitness for over 10 years. She provides inhome personal training, group training classes, online meal plans, as well as corporate wellness programs for businesses. www.MacJoFit.com
TIP #50 SPREAD YOUR WINGS By stretching the muscles of the chest and releasing the back, not only will you counteract the damage from excessive forwardhunching, but you’ll also improve your breathing by opening up the diaphragm, enhancing blood flow and increasing energy levels. Grab a partner for this exercise! SPREAD YOUR WINGS: • Lay on your stomach placing your hands behind your head. • Have a partner hold on to your elbows and in a slow and controlled manner, allow them to slowly raise your chest oﬀ of the ground. • A good stretch should not be painful, but do take it as far as you can while maintaining a comfortable breath. • Repeat two to three times, holding the stretch for 5-10 seconds.
Adam White Adam White is the head health and fitness coach at AWPTS based in Central London. He specializes in dynamic posturology for optimal performance and wellbeing. http://www.awpts.com/
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