Weekend Challenge: Anytime, Anywhere Posture Improver
Today’s challenge targets specific muscles of the back to improve posture, and it can easily be practiced while sitting down or standing up.
The Anytime, Anywhere Posture Improver works the rhomboid muscles, which are located just below the base of the neck between the shoulder blades. It reverses and prevents forward head posture (FHP) and the hunched upper back that can follow if this is not corrected.
While the rhomboids are not large muscles, they’re very important in correcting and maintaining posture and upper back and neck alignment.
Proper posture helps you look and feel younger, and according to research I’ll share with you, this perception can have a profound effect on longevity and quality of life.
Let’s begin by taking a closer look at the rhomboids, and what can happen if they become weak.
The major and minor rhomboid muscles lie below your trapezius muscle. They run between the inside edge of your shoulder blades to the cervical and thoracic vertebrae. Specifically, the rhomboid major connects to thoracic vertebrae 2 through 5 (T2-T5), while the rhomboid minor attaches to cervical vertebrae 7 (C7) through T1. So it’s clear that they play a significant role in the position of the head and neck.
They’re shaped roughly like a rhombus, which accounts for their name. The rhomboids are key muscles for holding your shoulders back and keeping your upper back and neck from falling into a slump.
FHP and a slouched, slumped posture are connected to the hunchbacked appearance associated with Dowager’s Hump( kyphosis). It’s something of a chicken-egg situation – poor posture can cause or exacerbate kyphosis, and kyphosis can worsen poor posture. Here’s how the cycle works, with an emphasis on the role of the rhomboids.
Kyphosis can start with FHP, which often has its beginnings in hours spent reading phone screens, sitting at a computer, or other activities that require you to lean forward. Often, you don’t even realize you’re doing it. FHP can also be a postural habit you’ve acquired over the years, even from childhood or adolescence.
This compromised posture stretches, strains, and ultimately weakens the muscles that hold the shoulders back and the head up. There are other reasons why the muscles of the upper back and neck become weak and stretched, too, such as feeling tired or simply not performing exercises that strengthen them. Thus, the vicious cycle continues – FHP and a slumped posture can cause weakened muscles, but weak muscles can encourage FHP and slumping.
Besides improving posture, strong rhomboids and correct shoulder alignment prevent another seldom-mentioned problem…
Tingling In The Hands And Fingers Can Be Caused By Slumped Shoulders
Basically, if you feel a tingling sensation and/or numbness in your hands or fingers, it could be due to nerve compression. It may surprise you to know that misalignment in the shoulders can cause compression of the nerves that supply your hands and fingers.
Most people have heard of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, a painful condition often caused by the position of the wrist while typing. But there are two lesser-known conditions that can originate with shoulder slumping: Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and Cervical Root Radiculopathy.
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome results from compression of the brachial plexus, a conglomeration of nerves that originate in the neck and branch off into the arms, wrists, and hands. The brachial plexus passes through the thoracic outlet, a space lined with muscle and bone that is located beside your neck. Tight muscles and poor posture compress this space, leading to pressure on the nerves that pass through it.
Even hand strength and the ability to grip tightly can be greatly decreased by Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.
Cervical Root Radiculopathy can result from spinal compression brought on by slumped posture and FHP. The nerves in the cervical spine branch down to the arms and hands, so when the vertebrae are misaligned and compressed, the nerve impulses are compromised. Tingling and numbness of the hands, fingers, and arms can result.
Therefore, targeted exercise that really works the rhomboids is important for strengthening these key postural muscles.Today’s challenge is specifically designed to work the rhomboids. Here’s how to do it.
The name says it all: the Anytime, Anywhere Posture Improver doesn’t require any special location or equipment, and it’s equally effective whether you’re sitting or standing.
- Sit or stand tall, imagining the top of your head rising to the ceiling.
- Grasp your hands in front of you with your elbows up, as in the illustration. It doesn’t matter if your right or left hand is facing out; just switch hands halfway through so you work the rhomboids evenly.
- Gently pull outward with your hands connected, but rather than focusing on your arms, concentrate on pulling your shoulder blades together. If you’re doing this correctly, you’ll feel the rhomboid muscles tightening.
- Pull for about 5 seconds, and then relax. Keep your hands connected in front of you and your elbows up.
- Repeat the pull-and-relax move 10 to 12 times (or fewer if you prefer), and then switch hands.
- Repeat another 10-12 times with your hands reversed.
Because it’s so convenient, you can do this exercise often throughout the day to tone and strengthen the rhomboids and prevent all the issues described above. And of course, in addition to strengthening muscles, the Anytime, Anywhere Posture Improver stimulates bone growth and strength in the thoracic vertebrae.
“Dowager’s Hump” Does Not Have To Be A Part Of Aging!
A hunchbacked appearance is usually associated with old age, because the bulging, rounded-out upper back can take years of bad posture habits to develop. But it is by no means an inevitable part of aging. It’s important to recognize this, because how you view yourself as you age has a very real impact on your health and longevity.
Recent Study Shows Feeling Younger Increases Longevity
Researchers asked approximately 6,500 men and women aged 52 and older, “How old do you feel you are?” Eight years later, researchers followed up to see which of the participants were still living. 1 Remarkably, 86% of those who felt younger than their actual years were alive, while just 75% of those who felt older than their true age were still living. Of those who felt the same as their actual age, 82% were alive.
It gets even more intriguing. Of those surveyed, self-perceived age had a profound impact on deaths due to cardiovascular events. Researchers conjecture that this is due to several possible factors: those who feel younger exercise more and are more likely to take on physically challenging or new exercise (such as taking up a new sport or activity), and that’s good for the heart.
In addition, those who feel old may go ahead and eat unhealthy foods, thinking they have a limited time to enjoy them. On the contrary, those who feel younger might be more likely to make heart-healthy food choices to improve their future.
Regardless of how it happens, the bottom line is that feeling younger can lead to a longer, happier, healthier life.
Regular Exercise Is Part Of “Youth Perception”
Regular exercise sets off another cycle, but this one’s beneficial. The more you exercise, the younger you feel; and according to the above research, the younger you feel, the more you exercise!
Feeling that youthful energy again is just one of the many benefits of exercise, and it’s one of many reasons why it’s a vital part of building bones naturally. The Densercise™ Epidensity Training System is meant to be used in conjunction with the Save Our Bones Program as part of a comprehensive, bone-rejuvenating plan that doesn’t include drugs.
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I want to encourage the community to share exercise tips and other engage in discussions about today’s post. So please let us know how your bone-building exercise is going by leaving a comment below.
Enjoy the weekend!
1Goodman, Heidi. “Feeling young at heart may help you live longer.” Harvard Health Publications. December 17, 2014. Web. http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/feeling-young-heart-may-help-live-longer-201412177598