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Posted on 07-10-2014

Blog: Improving Postural Health with Corrective Exercise

Drs. Brett & Nancy Lemire

The muscles on the backside of the body are responsible for holding our posture upright and working in conjunction with other muscle groups (abdominals) to allow for smooth, coordinated and economic movement.  There are several conditions that may exist simultaneously that cause the posterior trunk muscles to become weak.

  • Poor posture – forward head, slumped thoracic spine, pelvic tilt etc.
  • Age-related changes – loss of muscle mass, loss of muscle strength
  • Genetics – hereditary predisposition to trunk muscle weakness
  • Disuse or misuse – too much slumped sitting, computer work and texting
  • Injury – muscle weakness, scar-tissue secondary to injury

The solution is to keep the spine, especially the middle back, mobile, stable and strong by having a balanced approach to limbering and strength training.

Limbering:

Start by foam rolling the spine (middle back) and performing some gentle and basic limbering exercises to improve mobility in this region.

Examples:

Strengthening:

Strengthening the thoracic and lumbar spine can be accomplished in a number of ways.  One method is by performing different variations of GB Extension.  Start by kneeling down with the GB in front of your thighs and feet propped against the base of a wall.  Pull the GB in next to your thighs and hips, then extend your body onto the ball by pushing against the wall with your feet.  Brace your abdominals before rising up into extension to prevent hyper-extension or "jamming" the lumbar spine.  Shoulders, hips and heels should line up on a straight diagonal in the final position.  Return to the original position by bending the hips and knees and gently lowering the spine onto the ball.

The following progression helps train the muscles on the backside of the trunk.

  • Easy - cross the arms on the chest
  • Hard - place hands behind the head
  • Harder - reach arms overhead or move arms through the YTWA pattern
  • Hardest - use a ball or hand weight during the reach patterns

Keys: Hold each repetition for 3 - 5 seconds

Examples:

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