How To Improve Posture: Exercises For Neck Pain
Neck or shoulder pain has become a very common complaint over the past year. The main culprit? The rise in working from home, being sat at a desk or on a laptop for long periods of time.
Sound familiar? Don’t worry, you’ve come to the right place. Sitting with poor posture (rounded upper back and shoulders, head forward, etc) for too long can cause specific muscle groups to tighten, resulting in stiffness and often pain. In fact, you may also face longer term problems such as Kyphosis (curvature of the upper spine). In this article I will explain how to improve posture and relieve neck pain with 6 simple home exercises.
The implementation We’ll start off looking at those tight, stiff muscles. The ones that have been over worked due to the position of your head and upper body on a regular basis. These muscles either pull the shoulders up or forward. They are:
To improve the situation, these muscles need to be stretched. Now, not only will the poor posture cause tightness or stiffness in some muscle groups; it will also result in weakness in others.
As well as stretching the tight muscles, you will also want to strengthen the weaker ones. These muscles will either pull your shoulders down or back. The main ones are:
Therefore, these muscles need to be strengthened. Now you know what needs to be done, let’s talk about how. Next up I’ll show you my top 6 exercises to improve posture and put an end to the neck or shoulder pain.
Resistance Band Pull Apart
you will need: resistance band target muscle: Rear Deltoid type: strength
Start by holding the band out in-front of you at chest height, keeping your shoulders back and down.
Pull the band apart, bringing the band towards your chest and squeezing your shoulder blades together as you do so. Hold for 1-2 seconds, then release slowly back to the start position, ensuring your shoulders stay depressed and retracted.
Single Arm Row
you will need: kettlebell (or other weight) - Never used a kettlebell? click here to see why it could be your greatest investment.
target muscle: Latissimus Dorsi
Start in a split stance position, back straight and close to parallel with the floor. The arm with the weight should be vertical. Use the forearm of the other side to support yourself just above the knee.
Maintaining your position, pull the kettlebell up to your side, keeping your elbow narrow and forearm vertical.
Hold for 1 second, then slowly control the weight back down to the start position.
you will need: kettlebell (or other weight) target muscle: Triceps type: strength Stand upright with your core engaged by pulling your belly button in, holding the weight up above you with your elbows fully extended. Bending at the elbow, slowly lower the weight behind your head. Keeping the elbows where they are, push the weight back up to the start position (full extension).
Prone Rear Delt Raise
you will need: no equipment needed target muscle: Rear Deltoid type: strength This is an excellent movement to pull the shoulders back and improve posture. Lie flat on your front, with your arms out wide and forehead on the ground. Point your thumbs upwards. Squeeze your shoulder blades together to raise your arms vertically off the floor. Keep your forehead grounded. Hold for 1-2 seconds and then slowly return to the ground.
Lying Rotational Stretch
you will need: no equipment needed target muscle: pectoralis major & anterior detoid type: stretch This stretch will open up the chest and front of the shoulder which will really help improve posture. Start by lying on your side with your arms straight in front of you, palms together. Bring you top knee up, creating right angles at the hip and knee. Slowly rotate by bringing your top arm up and over towards the opposite side, until you feel a stretch across your chest and the front of your shoulder. Your knee should remain on the floor. Hold the stretch for 15-20 seconds, taking deep breaths. Return to the start position before repeating on the opposite side.
Equipment needed: Bench/chair target muscle: Trapezius type: stretch
The Traps at the top of your back, leading in to your neck are very commonly tight from prolonged time sitting at a desk or computer. Sit on a bench or chair, holding the back of the seat on one side. Look diagonally downward on the opposite side to the hand that is holding the chair. With your other hand, reach over to the back of your head and gently pull in the direction you are looking, until you feel a stretch across the top of your Trapezius in your neck. Hold for 15-20 seconds before repeating on the other side.
So there it is! The best 6 exercises for how to improve your posture. Below, I will show you how you could put these together in a short circuit: Single Arm Row (Left) x 12 Reps Single Arm Row (Right) x 12 Reps Tricep Extension x 12 Reps Band Pull Apart x 12 Reps Rest for 60 seconds, then repeat the circuit twice more. Once completed, go through one round of the stretching exercises: Lying Rotational Chest Stretch (Left): 20s Hold Lying Rotational Chest Stretch (Right): 20s Hold Trapezius Stretch (Left): 20s Hold Trapezius Stretch (Right): 20s Hold
When and how often should I do the exercises? There is no need to complete the strength based exercises more than once per day. In fact, including these exercises in a workout 3 times per week has shown to provide an efficient, effective stimulus for progression. However, you could benefit from going through the stretches slightly more frequently. You may find doing the stretches first thing in the morning and last thing at night on a regular basis reduces any neck/shoulder pain or stiffness you feel when you wake up. The key is to be consistent. Create the habit and make it a part of your routine and you’ll be feeling like a new person before you know it!
Enjoy using kettlebells? Check out this Kettlebell Workout For Weight Loss
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and now feel you know how to improve posture with ease at home!
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