Written by, Dr. Austin Abbruscato
Are you a professional desk jockey? Sitting typing emails, or writing notes, or graphic designing? No doubt that “spot in between your shoulder blades” is on FIRE (not in a good way) at the end of the day. Or maybe it’s the neck, at the base of the skull? And that old faithful tension headache is starting to kick in? Shallow breathing, shoulder pain, low and mid back pain, migraines, fatigue; these are all symptoms of “Upper Cross Syndrome” and “Lower Cross Syndrome”.
At first, this dysfunction causes mild to severe physical discomfort. After continued wear and tear of your body, more of the body’s systems begin to become affected. Breathing becomes more shallow because your rib cage is being caved and compressed in, shallow breathing leads to a decrease in circulation around the body while your body is at rest (like all day at work), and less circulation means more achy muscles. Ah! I see a cycle here. Not to mention side effects such as poor digestion and heightened menstrual cramps might start showing themselves as well.
But guess what! We can fix this! We can make our posture pretty so we can be pretty on the inside and out. Here are a few good places to start:
I love this pec stretch up against the wall, rather than through a doorway. It takes the elbow out of the equation and really focuses the stretch into the pec minor tendon and the anterior deltoid.
Hold each side for 30 seconds, twice. And don’t forget to BREATHE.
Keep your ENTIRE torso as flat against the wall as possible, with NO lower back arch. Keep you abdomen tight and tucked in to help. And try to keep your elbows, wrists, and back of hands touching the wall.
Slow and steady for 2-3 minutes
This exercise brings your head back over the shoulders to align the neck and take away any excess pressure. By doing this, you get to strengthen all the deep muscles directly attached to your spine. Yay! When these muscles get strong, muscles like your upper traps get to relax a little because now they aren’t working as hard. You’re basically delegating out responsibilities to the muscles that have gotten lazy and are taking WAY too long of a lunch break.
Try doing daily, 50 reps per day, for two weeks. Then perform as needed (like after 12 hours at a computer!)
Release the hip flexors from their tension prison! These muscles originate from much higher up than many thinks, so the upright posture of the torso helps to lengthen the deep psoas and iliacus to give a better overall release.
Hold each side for 1-5 minutes. Keep the abdomen engaged for stability and to aid in a deeper stretch. Use blocks as stilts if having the arms in the air too wobbly!
…and lastly…there’s always yoga!