This week we’re targeting posture with an exercise that flattens the upper back and counteracts forward head posture (FHP). All you need to perform this exercise is a wall. It’s an isometric exercise, which means that most of the time you’ll remain in a static position with the goal of activating postural muscles to promote proper, bone-healthy posture.
Savers surely understand the importance of good posture in maintaining and improving bone health and strength. Good posture helps to preserve balance, thereby decreasing the chances of falling. And when your posture is correct, gravity is your friend rather than your enemy. That’s because gravity applies healthful stress on your bones, stimulating them to grow and rejuvenate. But if your skeleton is misaligned, as in the case of poor posture or FHP, gravity pulls in all the wrong places, causing pain and inflammation instead.
In other words, poor posture forces your bones and muscles to fight against gravity, whereas good posture makes use of gravity to promote skeletal alignment and strength.
One of the keys to improving posture is to activate the postural muscles, which become weak and disengaged when you practice FHP or slumped posture on a regular basis. Unfortunately, most people in modern, Western societies do tend to succumb to chronic poor posture habits. This is primarily due to our “sit-down lifestyle” and many hours spent peering at a screen.
Getting back to postural muscles – let’s take a closer look at them and how they differ from another type of muscle group known as the phasic muscles.
Postural Vs. Phasic Muscles
Back in the 1960s, a Czechoslovakian doctor by the name of Vladimir Janda drew a distinction between postural and phasic muscles. Postural muscles, he discovered, exhibit “anti-gravity” behavior, meaning they respond to gravity on a nearly constant basis. Phasic muscles, on the other hand, are available “on demand” and do not work against gravity. To give an example, the pectoral muscles and the upper trapezius are postural muscles, while the middle and lower trapezius belong to the phasic category.
Dr. Janda further discovered that these two types of muscles simultaneously work against and with each other, creating a state of “imbalanced balance.” The muscles’ inequality is actually advantageous with the postural muscles exhibiting entirely different characteristics that create a functioning whole.
For example, postural muscles tend to become short and/or tight when not engaged, whereas phasic muscles tend to “turn off” and/or become weak. Postural muscles also atrophy less quickly than phasic muscles.
This setup can mean, however, that compensation is all too easy; when a postural muscle is short or tight, then nearby phasic muscles will attempt to do their job. This creates muscle dysfunction on both the postural and phasic levels.
That is where exercises like the Isometric Posture Corrector come in. This move “wakes up” the postural muscles and properly disengages the phasic muscles, preventing them from compensating.
- Sit down on the floor with your back against the wall. Scoot back until your bottom, shoulder blades, middle back, and the back of your head are against the wall.
- Straighten your legs so they are straight out in front of you, perpendicular to the wall. Note: if this causes an uncomfortable stretch in your hamstrings or is otherwise too uncomfortable, you can bend your knees slightly. Each time you do this exercise, try to straighten your legs a bit more.
- Tuck your chin down and back so that your face is looking directly forward and not tilted up or down. The back of your head should still be touching the wall.
- Hold this position for one to three minutes, longer or shorter depending on how difficult this is for you. It may surprise you how challenging this can be!
- Repeat this exercise as often as you like through the day.
We suggest you follow up with these other Weekend Challenges:
These simple but highly effective postural exercises make excellent additions to the exercises in the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System, which also contains posture-related moves among its more than 50 bone-building exercises. Correcting and maintaining proper posture are essential parts of building bones through exercise. And as we get ready to usher in the New Year, what better time to resolve to exercise regularly?
Take Exercising For Your Bones to the Next Level!
Learn the 52 exercise moves that jumpstart bone-building – all backed by the latest in epigenetics research.
I hope you enjoyed this weekend’s challenge, and I wish all of you a very Happy New Year!