This article is a transcribed edited summary of a video Bob and Brad recorded in August of 2023. For the original video go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaOeH0RL_aQ&t=52s
Mike: We've consulted with experts to discover the ultimate can't live without posture exercises.
Brad: And today, we are going to show you the five top essential exercises you'll need to get your posture back where it needs to be, so you're feeling tall and looking good. All right, so the first thing we want to address is this hunch forward, head forward posture. Mike is demonstrating it right here. Now if you have this posture or you've seen people like this posture I'm sure. What could happen over time, the vertebrae actually can so to speak get stuck or contracted.
Brad: You can think of it like a hinge. Right now, the hinge is down at that bent point. We've got a little model here, like this hinge, the vertebra of the neck is forward. And after time the hinge can get rusted so to speak. What we need to do is break up that rust, get the hinge straight back up where it needs to be, get the head up, and actually straighten out the vertebrae in the cervical column or the neck so that we break that rusty hinge up, straighten it, and get it to the proper position.
Brad: Now, we'll see how this works with the exercises in just a second. This is Bob's Rusty Hinge Theorem and it actually works. So pay attention. So what we need to do is really address the cervical column where it goes into the thoracic column of the spine. Here, we have good posture. Now, what happens with that hunched forward neck posture right there, where Mike is pointing, that part gets actually contracted or that's where the Rusted Hinge Theorem comes into play.
Brad: What we need to do is get a force directly on that spot. So we're going to use a tennis ball there and we're going to use gravity and a stretch lying down to get that to loosen up and eventually get that neck and head where it needs to for good posture. And you're going to be looking tall and strong.
Brad: All right, to do this technique, what you're going to need is a tennis ball, a towel folded up in four layers is a good place to start, and this is going to be done on a floor, not on a bed like we are here. This is just for filming purposes.
Brad: So imagine we're on a carpeted floor and Mike sets the ball under there and he lines it up. Go ahead, Mike, tell them what you're doing.
Mike: So I'm going to line it up in that hinge area, the C7 where the base of the neck is. If you're tight, your head is not going to touch the floor. For me, I am not tight. So eventually, you want to be able to get the back of your head to touch the floor. This means you have good mobility in your neck. If you could do this right away, you just need to work on your posture when you're sitting and focus on your neck. If you cannot, just simply lay here for a while. You may need to put a small pillow underneath here. Eventually, get a thinner pillow. And over time, which may take weeks or even a month, maybe you can get your head to touch the mat. This is a good position you want to eventually reach.
Brad: I think we can also add some gentle chin tucks on this as an option. So the chin goes down towards the Adam's apple, not looking up, that's what we want to avoid.
Mike: Now, once that becomes easy, a way to advance this is to do snow angels, even though there's no snow on the ground here. So I'm going to point my thumbs up towards my head, leave my arms touching the floor the entire time or as much as I can, bring them up overhead if possible, and then come back down. Try to do 10 repetitions if you can. This is going to help work on your posture and your shoulder mobility at the same time.
Brad: So the big benefit of this as we straighten the neck out, break those hinge aspects loose, good posture there, the shoulders come back with it without even thinking about it. It's all part of the snow angel. All right, the second option is something that Mike actually developed about 10 years ago. We were working with some people in the clinic. If you have that posture problem in the thoracic area, right between the shoulder blades, if you take a ball, a soft ball about 8-10 inches in size, you use that in a firm chair and that is going to be the fulcrum or actually the point that's going to help mobilize those vertebrae to get you from that slunch position to the proper good posture. Show them how to do it, Mike.
Mike: So what you want to do is start leaning into the ball. If you're able to lift up with your shoulders, go ahead and lift up and you're going to slowly arch back, kind of like you're saying "hallelujah," and then come back down and relax. You may not get all the way up and that's okay. Also, if you have a bad shoulder and can't lift it above your head, take your good arm, clasp your hands together, and lift up what you can. The whole focus of this is to arch in your back. The shoulder is just a bonus stretch. And we should say you can also put the ball in different locations. So if you notice you're hinging more at your lower back, you can certainly place the ball down there and do the same stretch again. The size of the ball will matter a little bit with how much range of motion you're going to get.
Brad: Nice job, Mike. Nice kickball. So yeah, you should be able to get one of these down where the kids play in the park.
Mike: I was going to say bowling alley for some reason, but that doesn't sound right. The third posture exercise comes from Dr. Stewart McGill and it's again going to focus on that thoracic spine extension or the area between your shoulder blades. To do this, you're going to be kneeling or we'll show an alternative later if you are unable to get onto your knees. So I'm going to clasp my hands behind my head and place my elbows into the chair. Then I'm going to start sitting my butt almost towards my heels while keeping my elbows in the same place. As you'll notice, I'm starting to extend my thoracic spine here, feeling a nice stretch and this feels actually really good. The more you push through your elbows, the more stretch you might notice when doing this. You can hold this for 10 to 30 seconds if possible, and repeat it a couple of times.
Brad: So I'd also like to mention it really offers some good mobility to the scapula or the shoulder blades, which is really important for posture as well as shoulder movement. So you get a bonus with that. You can do this on a bed as opposed to a chair. That might work out more comfortably for you, depending on the height of your bed. And if you're doing it by your bed, just take a pillow and throw it under your knees. That way you're making good efficient use of everything in the house.
Mike: Now, if you're unable to get on your hands and knees, you can certainly do this in a chair. I would suggest some type of computer chair or rolling options if you have that available to you. We're going to pretend this is your kitchen table here. I'm going to place my elbows on here and slowly roll the seat away from me, getting that stretch in my thoracic spine again. I can't get as deep as I can with kneeling but is still a good alternative option. If you do not have a rolling chair, you may put a towel underneath your elbows and simply go forward. Again, I'm going to get a little limited because now my chest is touching the table, but you can still get a stretch this way.
Brad: Good job, Mike. Nice option. All right, the fourth one is my favorite. I do this one on a regular basis at home. I take a Booyah stick, all you need is a stick that's four or five feet long, that's reasonably strong. And what we're going to do is use this to get the neutral posture in your spine, which is really healthy. You simply put it in front of you, grab it with your thumb down, go over the top of your head, and line it up right down the center of your spine. I'm touching right now between my shoulder blades. That's one point. There are three points of contact. I bring my head back, not looking up, but with a chin tucked in. I feel it at the back of my head, I feel it between my shoulder blades. I'm grabbing the stick t bout my buttock and I touch right at my sacrum or my belt line. And right now, I am stuck in excellent posture as long as those three points are in contact. And actually from here, I do some squats, so I get good body mechanics with good posture just to have a little bonus.
Brad: Now, another thing I really like to do is from this point I simply bring it across my shoulders, behind my neck, and grab along the Booyah Stik. This stretches out the front of my shoulders for shoulder posture. I keep my chin tucked in and I get a stretch like this. And boy, it just feels good. Just a good way to wake up in the morning. I'll do a little rotation that's pain-free, and work that. What do you think, Mike? I really enjoy this.
Mike: Do you just take the broom at home and do this?
Brad: You could take the broom at home. It's got to be a good broom. Make sure it's not too flimsy. Some people have big, strong arms. It needs to be strong enough to hold it, but this way is fine. Good point, Mike. Be careful with this. Safety first.
Mike: And the fifth posture exercise comes from Rick Olderman, a physical therapist. And it's all about lifting the rib cage to have good posture. So most people when they say sit up straight, immediately retract their shoulder blades. And yes, I'm sitting up straight, but now my shoulders are really tense and it's going to be hard to hold this posture for a long duration of time.
Mike: So instead of doing this, you're going to place one hand on your stomach and one hand on your rib cage or center of your chest area. As I inhale, notice that my rib cage will lift up naturally and when I exhale, it'll drop back down. So the next inhale, try to inhale again, and lift the rib cage. And then on the exhale, don't let it fall down as far. And eventually, your abdomen will kick in holding the rib cage up like you're naturally supposed to do. And this is much easier to hold the correct posture versus squeezing your shoulder blades back.
Brad: Right. And might I add once it's up and you exhale with the ribcage in this position, you just allow your shoulders to relax. All these muscles can be relaxed while you have good posture, making breathing easier, making no potential for tight muscles and pain in the neck after a while. It's really the natural way for good posture. Good job, Rick. All right, so I really want you to try each one of these. You may not have to do all of them. You'll find one or two of your favorites and do them on a daily basis. It will definitely get your posture better over time. Keep with it and you're going to look taller, stronger, and awfully good-looking.
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