Imagine a life where a little effort goes a long way in improving your posture, reducing pain, and enhancing your overall well-being. Sounds too good to be true, right? The truth is, posture therapy exercises can help you achieve these benefits by dedicating just a small amount of time each day to focus on your body's alignment.
Good posture is essential for overall health, and the consequences of poor posture can include chronic pain, decreased mobility, and reduced quality of life. In this article, we'll introduce you to posture therapy, a solution designed to improve posture, alleviate pain, and restore balance to your body.
The Science Behind Posture Therapy Exercises
Posture therapy exercises are rooted in a multi-disciplinary approach that combines the holistic principles of Eastern medicine with the sciences of Western medicine, including biomechanics, kinesiology, and physiology. By incorporating aspects of both medical traditions, posture therapy provides a comprehensive and effective method for addressing poor posture and related issues you may have.
Muscle imbalances play a crucial role in maintaining proper posture. These imbalances can manifest in various ways, such as being too weak, too tight, over-facilitated, inhibited, locked long, or locked short. When your muscles are out of balance, they pull joints of the body out of alignment, leading to poor posture and often pain and discomfort. Your nervous system, responsible for muscle activation and coordination, is also a critical component in maintaining good posture and addressing these muscle imbalances.
Posture therapy exercises are designed to target your specific muscle imbalances and retrain your nervous system to improve whole-body alignment. Through a combination of stretching, strengthening, and balance exercises, posture therapy helps to restore your body's natural alignment and promote optimal movement patterns.
Long-lasting changes in the body occur over time with proper stimulation to the body's systems. Research has shown that regular exercise can lead to significant physiological changes, including improvements in the nervous system's ability to communicate with muscles, increased muscle strength and flexibility, and enhanced bone density (source: ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, 10th Edition). These changes not only contribute to better looking posture but also promote a number of positive health benefits.
In summary, the science behind posture therapy exercises lies in its unique approach to blending holistic and Western medical principles, targeting various muscle imbalances, and retraining the nervous system to create lasting positive changes in your body.
Key Principles of Posture Therapy Exercises
Posture therapy focuses on achieving optimal outcomes by restoring your body to proper alignment through addressing musculoskeletal imbalances and promoting functional movement. At Activ8 Posture, our whole-body approach looks at improving your overall health and wellness while alleviating any discomfort associated with poor posture and musculoskeletal dysfunction.
Activ8 Posture works closely with you to find the most effective, right-fit program tailored to your unique needs and goals. This individualized method ensures that you receive a customized plan (not symptom-based protocols) designed to produce lasting results.
Ideal postural alignment involves restoring your body to a neutral spine and balanced muscle tension throughout the joints of your body. With proper alignment, your body will discover more efficient movement, reduce the risk of injury, and tap into the many benefits of good posture associated with many systems of the body. (Benefits such as better breathing, improved digestion, circulation, energy, etc.)
Good Posture is as Easy as Reminding Your Body How It's Supposed to Work
The approach of Activ8 Posture therapy revolves around reminding the body of its innate ability to maintain proper alignment and move efficiently. Rather than introducing foreign or unnatural movements, posture therapy focuses on re-establishing the body's natural movement patterns and postural habits.
Individualized assessment and treatment plans designed specifically for your body are crucial to the success of posture therapy. By identifying your specific musculoskeletal dysfunctions and addressing them in a targeted manner, we'll be able to work around compensatory strategies that have developed over time. This personalized approach ensures that the root causes of postural issues are addressed, leading to faster results and lasting improvements.
Activ8 Posture therapy exercises use a whole-body approach to addressing posture issues. These corrective exercises incorporate a combination of stretching, strengthening, neuromuscular, myofascial, and kinesthetic awareness techniques that work your entire body from head to toe. By addressing the body as a whole, our posture therapy helps you to create a balanced and functional musculoskeletal system, which is key to maintaining your good posture and optimal health.
Examples of Posture Therapy Exercises
Posture therapy exercises are designed with varying levels of difficulty, ranging from easy "am-I-doing-anything?" ones to difficult "I-didn't-know-my-body-could-do-that" moves, and are tailored to your unique posture deviations and level of function. As you progress through the program, you'll gradually ascend to more challenging exercises to ensure continuous improvement and prevent regression. By continuing to modify your exercises as you progress through the program, we observe the S.A.I.D. (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand) principle, emphasizing that the body adapts to the specific demands placed upon it. Otherwise, your intelligent path-of-least-resistance body and mind can find ways to wiggle out of using the right muscles.
At Activ8 Posture, we go beyond simple stretching and strengthening exercises by incorporating myofascial lines, neuromuscular pathways, and kinetic chain movements to address postural issues holistically. This comprehensive approach ensures that all aspects of the musculoskeletal system are considered and properly addressed.
A Sampling of Posture Therapy Exercises
Below are a few examples of Activ8 Posture therapy exercises that target specific posture deviations. A description of how the dysfunction is tied into the body is included. Try them out and let us know how you do, or if you have any questions.
Forward Head Posture Exercises
Your head and neck connect and interact with your entire spine and shoulders. And, of course, your spine alignment, stability and mobility rely on interactions with the pelvis, hips, legs, and feet. Doing exercises like chin tucks may work the local muscles of the neck, but fall short of integrating function with the rest of the body. Spinal realignment and pelvic stabilization exercises for forward head posture:
1. Hooklying Pullovers
For Hooklying Pullovers, start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet parallel and flat on the floor. Interlace your fingers together, making a big fist, and straighten your elbows. In a controlled manner, lower your extended arms towards the floor while inhaling, then bring them back over your chest as you exhale. Repeat 10-30 times.
2. Cats & Dogs
Start on all fours with your wrists under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Let your back and shoulder blades collapse down to start. Breathing out, round your back from head to tailbone. When you're out of air, drop your back and shoulders down to the starting position and breathe in. Repeat 10 times.
Kyphosis Posture Exercises
Similar to the neck, or cervical spine, the thoracic spine is connected to and interacts with the entire spine and shoulders. And spinal alignment and proper function rely on the pelvis, hips, legs, and feet. Thoracic extension and whole-body realignment exercises for kyphosis:
1. Counter Stretch
Start by standing with your feet two-and-a-half to three feet from the wall (depending on your height and reach), hip-width apart, and pointing straight towards the wall. Then, place your hands on the wall at shoulder height with your palms flat and your fingers spread open. Keeping your elbows straight, gently bend from the hips and allow your trunk to lower, so your trunk is more horizontal. Don’t force yourself to go too low; stop if there’s pain. If you’re okay with the stretch, keep your knees extended and allow your spine to extend, holding for 30-60 seconds.
2. Airbench Pullovers
Sit against a wall with your low back flat and your hips and knees bent close to 90-degrees. Extend your elbows in front of your chest and raise your arms overhead slowly. Keep the arms straight as you bring the arms overhead, stopping where your back comes off the wall or if you feel discomfort. Repeat 40 times.
Anterior Pelvic Tilt Exercises
When the pelvic tips forward, it's often associated with tight hip flexors. Because we sit so much, the deep hip flexors (psoas major and iliacus) are commonly weak and tight. This requires the body to use compensatory strategies, where other muscles substitute work for them (and commonly complain via pain). Pelvis-balancing exercises for anterior pelvic tilt:
Making sure you have grip to keep your feet from sliding, walk your feet out between one-and-a-half to two feet from the wall. Slowly slide down to where your thighs are parallel to the floor (or slightly above if too difficult), sitting against the wall while pressing your low back flat with your knees bent around 90-degrees. Relax your arms and upper body. Keep your weight in the heels and hold for between 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
2. Standing Quad Stretch
Stand facing a wall with one foot propped up behind you, keeping the front of your thighs flush. The height of your foot in back will depend on how tight you are. Tuck your pelvis under (lift your belt buckle while tilting your sacrum down). Hold each side for 1 minute.
Knock Knees Exercises
Muscle imbalances from weak, inhibited hip muscles open the door for tight, strong adductor muscles. This kinetic chain posture dysfunction leads to decreased hip mobility, anterior pelvic tilt, and ankle and foot misalignments. strengthening exercises for knock knees:
1. Sitting Femur Rotations
Sit tall on the floor with your legs apart 2 feet. Pull your toes and feet back and lock your knees straight. Continuing to sit tall (using your hands behind you for support), roll your hips forward to extend your low back. Rotate in and out from your hips slowly, finding the end ranges of motion in both directions. Be sure to keep you feet pulled back and knees locked, along with keeping your hips rolled forward. Repeat 10-20 times for three sets, trying to get your legs wider in each set.
2. QL Stretch
Sit tall on the floor with your legs apart as wide as they can go. Pull your toes and feet back and lock your knees straight. Continuing to sit tall, roll your hips forward to extend your low back. Lower the elbow inside of the knee you're stretching toward while bringing the other arm over your head, reaching towards your foot. Bend from your waist up through your arm while sitting tall and keeping your back extended. Keep the legs tight for the duration of the stretch. Hold each side for 30-60 seconds.
These posture therapy exercises are a small sample of the hundreds of corrective exercises at our disposal for your specific needs and level of function. And, as an example of sequencing the exercises, if you have knock knees with anterior pelvic tilt, you can try the knock knee exercises first, followed by the anterior pelvic tilt exercises. If we were able to see you in person, we would determine if this was the best course of action for you.
*If you have any pre-existing conditions or concerns, be sure to reach out for help or consult your healthcare professional before starting.
Implementing Posture Therapy Exercises in Your Daily Routine
To incorporate posture therapy exercises into your daily life, consider the following tips (from James Clear's Atomic Habits):
- Make it obvious: Set up visual cues to remind you to practice your exercises, such as placing a sticky note on your computer or setting a recurring alarm on your phone.
- Make it attractive: Pair your exercises with a pleasurable activity, like listening to your favorite music or watching a show, to make the habit more enjoyable.
- Make it easy: Start with simple exercises and gradually progress to more challenging ones as you become more comfortable and consistent with your routine.
Consistency and commitment are crucial for seeing improvements and achieving lasting results. By integrating posture therapy exercises into your daily life, you can actively work towards better posture and a pain-free, active lifestyle.
In conclusion, posture therapy exercises offer you numerous benefits, including the confidence of improved posture, pain alleviation, a return to and enjoyment of daily activities, and an enhanced level of health. By addressing the root causes of postural issues and restoring balance to the musculoskeletal system, posture therapy exercises provide an effective and holistic approach to tackling a wide range of posture-related problems.
To gain a deeper understanding of posture therapy and access additional resources, we encourage you to explore more on our blog, where you'll find a growing wealth of information on various topics related to posture, wellness, and holistic health.
If you're ready to take the next step toward better posture and improved quality of life, we'd love to get to know you better on a discovery call with one of our Activ8 Posture therapists. Our team of experts is committed to helping you develop a personalized plan and guiding you on your journey toward optimal postural health.
Take action today and discover the transformative power of posture therapy exercises! You'll be glad you did!
Learn More about Posture Therapy
Frequently Asked Questions
How often should I do posture therapy exercises?
We generally recommended you to perform your posture therapy exercises daily or at least 4-5 times per week for optimal results. However, the frequency may vary based on your individual needs, other activities, and the guidance of your posture therapist.
How long do posture therapy exercises take for results?
The time it takes to see noticeable improvements in your posture will vary depending on the severity of your postural issues and your consistency in performing the exercises. Many individuals see results in the first appointment! They will be reinforced and last longer within a few weeks, while some may take a few months of consistent practice.
How long do posture therapy exercises take to do every day?
The duration of your daily posture therapy exercises will depend on the specific exercises prescribed by your therapist and your individual needs. Generally, spending 15-30 minutes per day on posture therapy exercises is a good starting point. We want to build the habit and remind your body how it is supposed to work, so frequency matters along with how long you spend daily.
Should I do posture therapy exercises before or after working out?
Ideally, both. However, we generally recommended to perform posture therapy exercises before your workout as a part of your warm-up routine. This helps activate and engage the appropriate muscles, improve your body awareness, and promote proper alignment during your workout. However, you can also perform specific exercises as a cool-down after your workout as advised by your posture therapist.
Where can I get personalized posture therapy exercises for my posture?
To receive personalized posture therapy exercises tailored to your specific postural needs, it's best to consult with a qualified posture therapist, such as those at Activ8 Posture. We can provide an individualized assessment and create a customized exercise plan to address your unique postural imbalances and dysfunctions. You can contact us here for your Discovery Call.