The Anti-Sloucher is a perfect move for realigning and relaxing the neck and shoulders, and although it’s really simple, it’s highly effective at improving posture and stabilizing the shoulder blades.
As you’ll see, stable shoulder blades are essential for proper posture and healthy vertebrae.
The primary muscle groups worked in the Anti-Sloucher are the trapezius muscles. The “traps” are often overlooked in typical workouts that tend to focus on the arms and shoulders.
Let’s take a look at these important muscles and how they help you maintain good posture.
The trapezius muscles (“traps”) fall into three main groups: the upper, middle, and lower traps. When you tilt your head to look up at the sky or ceiling, you’re using your upper traps. These muscles are also used when you tilt your head from side to side, and you can feel a stretch in the upper traps when you do this.
The middle traps are involved in moving your shoulder blades (scapulae) in and up, as in a shrug. They are also utilized when you move your arms at the shoulder.
The lower traps help hold the base of the shoulder blades in place, preventing them from rising and spreading too far apart such as occurs in a slouched, rounded-shoulders posture.
All three groups work to anchor the shoulder blades close together, making them key muscle groups when it comes to neck alignment and scapular stabilization.
Why Stabilizing The Shoulder Blades Matters
Stabilized shoulder blades are the force behind a proper thoracic curve. The muscles between the scapulae, the traps, must be toned and strong to prevent compensation and too much lift of the scapulae when you raise your arms.
When the traps stretch and become weak, the shoulder blades spread apart. Also, poor posture stretches the traps, allowing the shoulder blades to drift apart and forward, rounding the back. When traps become weak, they are no longer able to stabilize the scapulae.
Destabilized shoulder blades can cause neck and back pain, and affect other functions of the shoulder, too. In fact, the scapulae’s alignment influences all joints and articulations of the shoulder, so when destabilization occurs, it has a negative impact on multiple levels.
In addition, the pressure of muscle on bone stimulates bone growth. So working the traps helps build bone density in the cervical and thoracic vertebrae.
For the Anti-Sloucher, you’ll need two weights, one for each hand. You can use cans of food or regular light weights (under 5 pounds; you can increase the weight after you’ve become familiar with this move).
- Stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart.
- Holding a weight in each hand, let your arms hang by your sides.
- Shrug your shoulders, hold for a second, and then release.
- Repeat 10 times (or whatever is comfortable for you) for one set. You can stop there, or do two more sets.
- Keep your elbows straight and relaxed.
- Your neck and upper back should stay relaxed and stable, not hunched or pressed forward.
- Stay standing straight and tall – don’t lean from side to side.
I’ve found that this exercise teams up well with the Neck And Shoulders Aligner, a prior Weekend Challenge. Try them both to get the best results strengthening your traps to improve your posture.
While the Anti-Sloucher is a targeted exercise, the benefits of doing this and similar moves go beyond just the area you’re focusing on. All the overall benefits of exercise come with bone density-specific moves, and science has proven yet another positive effect of exercise, as you’ll read next.
Exercise Lowers Blood Pressure And Blood Sugar
It’s been scientifically proven that that even moderate exercise is instrumental in improving blood pressure and blood glucose levels, as the following study shows.
This Kaiser Permanente study is unique in that it evaluates self-reported physical activity among 622,897 patients who reported their activity levels to their doctors. After two years, the patients’ health records were examined, and showed a clear association between “moderate to vigorous exercise and improved measures of cardiometabolic health for both men and women.”1
Keeping blood sugar levels consistent is important for the proper functioning of nearly all body systems, because sugar has an effect on every one of them. From the brain to the bones, too much sugar in the blood can hamper your immune system, neurologic function, and of course, your bone health.
There’s more good news from the Kaiser Permanente research, as you’ll read in the conclusion below:
“…consistently physically active and irregularly active patients, as assessed by the EVS (Exercise as a Vital Sign), have lower diastolic blood pressure, glucose, and HbA1c levels than patients who are consistently physically inactive.”1 (emphasis added)
While regular, consistent exercise is optimal, it is encouraging to know that missing a workout now and then won’t undermine your efforts, and even if you can only exercise sporadically, it is far better than being consistently inactive.
So aside from building your bones, there are other compelling reasons to start exercising by doing what your physical fitness level and schedule allow.
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The Densercise™ Epidensity Training System is designed so that you can exercise at your own pace. While it’s set up to be practiced 15 minutes a day, three times a week, if you can only Densercise™ once a week at first, don’t let that stop you. As the study mentioned before has shown, any amount of exercise is better than complete inactivity.
I hope you enjoy this weekend’s exercise as much as I did, so please let us know by leaving your comment below.
Enjoy the weekend!
1 Young, D.R., et al. “Associations Between Physical Activity and Cardiometabolic Risk Factors Assessed in a Southern California Health Care System, 2010-2012.” Prev Chronic Dis 2014; 11:140196. Doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.5888/pcd11.140196. Web. https://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2014/14_0196.htm