There are few exercises I give to everyone I see, mostly because everyone is different and I don't agree with the 'one size fits all' approach. That said there are many things in modern life we all do similarly such as use computers, tablets, watch TV and drive cars. It's also fair to say we are doing these things for longer and longer on a daily basis.
One of the things that makes these activities so bad for us (aside from their sedentary nature - more on that in another blog), is that they are all in front of us and encourage us to round our shoulders forward and inward. The two muscle groups primarily responsible for this are the pectoral muscles and the latissimus dorsi (pecs and lats). They are the large muscles that cover your chest, and run from the back of your armpit down towards your waist. By comparison the muscles responsible for rotating your shoulders outwards (Teres Minor, Infraspinatus and Supraspinatus) are much smaller, making it quite an unfair competition. Not only are the two big muscles competing with much smaller ones, but they generally get to be in a contracted position for hours and hours every day, leaving their counterparts in a stretched and weakened position for the same.
So to the antidote; one of my favourite exercises: The overhead stretch.
This exercises stretches your pecs and lats, whilst activating your lateral rotators as well as pretty much every muscles in your upper back which helps with good posture. You'll need a thera-band for this.
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip distance, knees soft, abs pulled in, bottom tucked in tightly.
- Hold the band as wide as you need to so you can lock out your elbows, rest the band in front of your thighs
- Slowly take the band up and over your head, all the way back to touching above your bottom, you MUST keep your elbows locked out to put the work into the muscles around the shoulder blades and not the ones near your neck.
- Squeeze your shoulders and lift the band back up and over your head. Keep those elbows locked out. Bring the band back to its starting position.
This exercise should be done slowly and steadily and always within your comfort range. The thera-band will stretch if you need it to. As you become more flexible you could use something less flexible - I often employ a skipping rope. NEVER work through pain.
If you are one of those people who spends a lot of time on their computers or has naturally ended up with rounded shoulders, gently give this a go. In fact I don't think I've had a client I've not given this one to. The antidote to modern life...maybe a big claim, but it will help.