We all have heard of ‘text neck,’ or noticed that one person with the “forward head” posture, or the “rounded shoulders.” Maybe you see them on the bus, or walking, where it’s like their body is curling in on itself. Maybe this person is you.
When people talk about this, I often hear “well it’s my fault,” or “I should just sit up straight.”
Firstly, no, my friends. There is no ‘fault,’ here, and no one you need to blame. We’re humans, who spend a lot of time sitting or interacting with screens, and orient “forward.” As such, it’s common for this to create muscle imbalance or postures that round more forward.
Secondly, just telling yourself “I need to sit up straight” is not the answer either. Our posture is regulated by our muscle tension and our strength, and you might try to actively “pull your shoulders back,” or “sit up straight,” but that takes endurance, strength, and flexibility that you may not have.
So what’s the secret to a better posture? Strengthening.
We need the muscles in your back and core to be stronger to help hold your tissues in that sought after “neutral alignment.” That includes your lats, one of the biggest muscles in our back, as well as all those scapular stabilizes to help pull your shoulderblades back.
Most people chronically undertrain pull, because it’s really easy to train push. Overhead press, bench press, push ups, and so on and so forth. These are good, and great motions, but they often bias the muscles in the front of our body, that pull us further into the rounded and hunched over position.
Pull takes a bit more work, and often more equipment. It is possible to train pull without cable machines, but they do make it a whole heck of a lot easier.
So if you’re wanting to work on your pull and improve your posture, here’s a quick routine for you to try. If you don’t have a cable machine, don’t worry! You’ll still be able to make gains, it just requires some more creativity.
Palms Up Pull Apart: squeeze the shoulderblades together, keep your palms up.
Bent Over Reverse Fly w/ 1-2 lbs (these are light for a reason) Start the movement from the shoulderblade, hinge at the hip and keep the core engaged.
PVC Pass Through: 1x15
Single Arm Row in Lunge Position: Keep the shoulder fixed, and think about kicking the elbow back and keeping it close to your ribs.
Reps: 3x8 each side, heavy.
Side Plank at Knees: Don’t let the pelvis turn toward the ceiling. Keep it pointed toward the opposite wall, or toward the floor, and feel your obliques engage as you lift.
Seated Rows on Cable Machine: Both hands. Keep your chest up, lean back slightly, push through the feet. You can do a wide or narrow grip, and it will target slightly different groups. Start the movement by squeezing the shouldersblade together as your elbows come back towards you.
Lat Pull Downs: Don’t pull your shoulderblades down and back here. With your arm overhead, it’s normal for your shoulderbalde to rise as well. Instead, allow them to rise, and as you pull the bar toward your chest, squeeze the shoulderblades down and back as your elbow drops below 90 degrees.
Single Arm Lat Pull Over (1-5 lbs): With this, start with knees bent and keep your back against the ground the whole time. Keep your wrist in neutral, and let yourself feel a stretch in the back of your shoulder/arm pit as the arm comes overhead.
If you don’t have access to a cable machine, you can always try what I did during quarantine; under table pull ups. Say what?
I had a kitchen table that was wide enough for me to lay under, and then I took an underhand grip to the edge. And pulled myself up to the table (with my face very close to the underside). You can grip palm up, or you can reach out to the sides (if it’s narrow enough) to replicate the wide grip pull.
Kitchen Table Rows (underhand or wide grip)
Squeeze shoulderblades together. To start, you can use bent knees, and to make it harder, you can go full plank.
Pec Stretch on a Foam Roller: With a foam roller along your spine (or a rolled up towel, length wise), touch the backs of your hands to the floor and adopt a snow angel position. Raise your arms along the floor as high as you can overhead (not toward the ceiling), feeling a stretch in the front of your chest.
Of course, if you have pain, discomfort, or want more support on how to improve your posture, reach out and contact us so we can help you meet your goals!