Published on Sep 24, 2017
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Ricky Redus here, CrossFit and Olympic Weightlifting coach.
Slouching all day in an office chair or on a couch forces your chest muscles to tighten, which pulls your spine forward and rotates your shoulders inward, while at the same time weakening the muscles of your upper back that aid in posture.
In other words, you start looking like a hunchback and may experience pain in your neck, lower back, and even arms and legs.
The good news is that Postural Kyphosis, the clinical term for this condition, is completely reversible.
The 5 corrective exercises below can relieve chest tightness and strengthen your upper back muscles to help you look more like Superman and less like a hunchback.
1. The “Doorway” Stretch – 0:42
Start by stretching your chest muscles. Yep, you need to stretch your chest in order to relieve the tension in your back.
To do this, I like the “doorway” stretch. Place your hand on the door jam, or a wall, and walk forward, keeping your hand in place and your body in line with the door or close to the wall. Hold that stretch for about 30 seconds and then switch to the other arm. This will really stretch your pecs, which will help open up your chest and your anterior deltoid, the front muscle in your shoulder. This will really help stretch out the chest and get a great rotation of the shoulders.
2. Pipe Passthroughs – 1:37
Next, grab a piece of PVC pipe, or as I have done, a broomstick. Hold the stick with your hands at or near each end. Now, slowly raise the stick above your head and back as far as you can go, this is called external rotation. Now, bring the stick back forward over your head and down to your waist. This forward movement is called interior rotation. Perform 10-15 repetitions of this and try to extend your external rotation, comfortably, with each repetition.
3. Upper Back Foam Rolling – 3:17
Foam rolling is another massage technique that can improve your spine mobility and correct rounded shoulders.
Lay the foam roller across the spine in the middle of your back right below your shoulder blades. Your knees should be bent, feet firmly planted on the ground, and hands comfortably behind your head. Lifting your hips off the ground, roll forward so the foam roller travels down your back an inch, then drop your hips to the floor. Repeat until the foam roller is hovering a couple inches below your neck, then slowly roll back down following the same pattern. If you feel any areas of stiffness, roll back and forth on top of the area for 10-15 seconds.
Complete this exercise for 3 sets going up, down, and up again. You may feel some pain and discomfort the first few times you complete this exercise, but over time, your upper back mobility will improve.
4. Prone “Y” Extensions – 4:10
The Prone Y Extension accomplishes a lot in one exercise: it rotates your shoulders outward, stretches your abdomen (which is normally flexed), stretches your chest, and strengthens your lower back extensor muscles, along with the upper back muscles associated with posture.
Lie flat on the floor with your legs shoulder-width apart and your arms extended in a “Y” over your head. Lift your torso off the ground while simultaneously externally rotating your shoulders so that your palms are facing upwards. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds, then lower down. Repeat for 3 sets of 8 repetitions.
5. Close Grip Rows
This exercise strengthens the upper back muscles, the muscles that help maintain proper posture and a neutral spine which will provide strength to these areas and help keep this portion of your spine upright.
The Close Grip Row can be completed seated using a cable machine, or standing using a resistance band.
Wrap the resistance band around a stable object at chest level and walk back a few feet until you feel moderate tension on the band. Your arms should be extended with a slight bend in your knees and feet placed shoulder-width apart. Keeping your head up, shoulders back, chest out, back straight, and abs tight, slowly pull the bands toward the sides of your torso while squeezing your shoulder blades. Slowly resist the band until your arms are fully extended. Complete 3 sets of 15 repetitions.
If you guys have any other posture problems that you’d like me to cover, leave me a comment below.
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See You Next Time,
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