I was watching the Academy Awards last while multi-tasking (a common occurrence), when my husband said, “she is a pretty woman.” I looked up from internetting to see Gwyneth Paltrow’s image flash across the screen. “Her posture is horrible,” I pointed out. “I don’t know how her trainer lets her get away with that.”
A person’s posture is an important part of healthy movement patterns. When a person is not properly aligned (ears over shoulders, shoulders over hips, hips over ankles), movements become inefficient and pain is often the result. Gwyneth Paltrow’s head juts forward, indicating weak muscles in her neck and upper back. Her shoulders round, indicating weak upper back muscles, back of the shoulder muscles and tight pectoralis muscles. As a trainer, my goal would be to stretch her chest and anterior deltoids (front of the shoulder muscles), and strengthen her upper back and posterior deltoids. An easy exercise to begin to address this problem is wall slides. To perform wall slides, stand with your back and head against a wall, with your feet about 12 inches in front of you. Place your elbows against the wall, even with the shoulders and place the backs of the hands against the wall. For many people, this is an extremely deep stretch and cannot be maintained without arching the back. If that is the case for you, stop here and simply work on that motion. If you can get the backs of the hands against the wall while maintaining neutral spine, attempt to straighten the arms straight up as much as you can without arching the back. Slowly return to the starting position. You will find a natural stopping point with your arms, where you feel the backs of the hands starting to come away from the wall. Don’t’ push past that. Perform 10 repetitions. Many people report feeling taller when they step away from the wall. If you take 2 minutes to perform this daily, you will notice a change in your posture and how you carry yourself.
Flu and cold seasons are upon us, and to stave off illness, it is important to stay mentally and physically strong. Make sure you are getting enough sleep each night, drink plenty of water, eat whole foods, and make sure you are exercising regularly. Research repeatedly shows a link between regular exercise and a strong immune system. If you find yourself stressed out at work, time permitting, take a quick 5-10 minute walk. If leaving the office isn’t an option, shut your door, turn off your computer screen, send your calls to voicemail, and place a timer directly in front of you. Take 2 minutes to focus on deep breathing, relaxing your shoulders, breathing deeply into the back of the ribcage. I often count my breaths, attempting to take as few as possible, in an effort to quiet my thoughts. Once the two minutes is up, go back to work, and you should notice increased clarity and a calmer demeanor.
Yours in health and wellness,