Dr. Alex Jimenez, El Paso's Chiropractor
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5 Easy Exercises to Improve Posture

5 Easy Exercises to Improve Posture

The natural curve of the spine is reinforced by correct posture. Posture not only influences how you look but helps you breathe, improves concentration, supports vital organ function and stimulates overall well-being.

Ignoring harmful postural habits leads to illness, discomfort and pain, and increases the risk for pathogenesis of disease in the body.  You can improve your posture and nervous system function and improve your quality of life significantly.

At the bottom of this article, you will discover a video and narrative for 5 exercises that will help you correct defects and optimize your posture in minutes each day.  Much like we brush and floss our teeth for dental health, we need to work on our posture each and every day!

Spinal Curve Dictates Health

The body was built with a curve in the spine to provide support and balance to the musculoskeletal system. It is essential for preventing deformation to bones, joints, muscles and tendons. Correct posture protects against disc degeneration that can lead to inflammatory conditions and disease. It is also critical for protecting the central nervous system.

Postural experts understand that poor posture weakens the body’s ability to defend itself against infectious and chronic diseases.  They also view poor posture as a marker for the presence of chronic illness.  Today, many posture focused doctors such as chiropractors advocate for health measures in schools to educate students about correct posture techniques to reduce the current posture epidemic brought on by modern technologies such as cell phones that force us into a forward head shift. 

Doctors refer to the natural curve of the neck as the “arch of life.” This arch should have a 40-45 degree curve.  As the arch reduces it becomes unstable and results in a forward head shift, which depending upon the severity can add up to 30 pounds of additional weight on the spinal discs, ligaments and tendons.

This postural issue causes major stress on the musculoskeletal system. Loss of the spine’s natural curve inhibits normal physiological and nervous system functions.  The ability to protect the brain stem and support the communication of nerve impulses throughout the body becomes suppressed.

Effects of Subluxation

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Unfortunately, we are a modern age characterized by reoccurring activities that creates stress on the supporting spinal column. Slouching, crossing legs, cell phone use, and incorrect ergonomic practices at home, school and work causes poor posture. This leads to the abnormal curvature of the spine and abnormal stress on the nervous system, which is known as subluxation.

Subluxation interferes with nerve impulses and can manifest in numerous physical symptoms.

 

Examples include:

 

Neuropathy
Back pain or neck pain
Chronic pain common in the hips, joints, lower back, pelvis and knees
Irritation of a specific area such as arm pain
Weakened immune system
Organ dysfunction
Inability to move or exercise normally
Dizziness and loss of balance
Loss of bladder or bowel control
Autoimmune conditions
Headaches and migraines
Fatigue

 

Although our very own chronic habits lead to forward head posture, the spine is also susceptible to trauma from birth, regular physical activities from exercise and sports, as well as accidental injury from car accidents and falls.

Depending on the type of injury and which nerve pathways of the spine become disrupted, spinal subluxations can increase the risk for weakened immunity and lowered quality of life.

Dangers of Forward Head Posture

Vanity is of least concern when it comes to the problems associated with forward head posture. As the head shifts forward, the thoracic spine moves and the weakening of the shoulder blades causes slouching and the appearance of hunchback. These harmful effects trigger the descent downward of vital organs in the chest. There is a decrease in lung capacity, a reduced flow of oxygen into the diaphragm and a lower rate of oxygen reaching the cells.

A reduction in circulating oxygen in the body poses serious health threats. Oxygen is essential for survival because it maintains homeostatic functions including hormone balance, supports blood flow, protects the body from chronic disease and cancer, fuels nutrient absorption and protects the health and healing of cells, tissues and organs.

Studies have shown that forward head posture is an indication of poor health and is reported to cause the impairment of simple activities including walking or sitting comfortably. It is likely that physical limitations of the body marked by poor posture accelerate the aging process and increases inflammation. This is a result of the body’s inability to manage stress and tissue trauma appropriately.

Other evidence supports that the correction of forward head posture:

Alleviates symptoms of respiratory complications such as asthma
Increases breathing and lung oxygenation essential for physical fitness
Strengthens abdominal muscles
Restores enlarged tonsils
Improves glandular function in the head and neck

Improvements from Chiropractic Care:

Chiropractic adjustments can help compensate for postural abnormalities leading to an improvement in the health of the spine and the whole body. Research performed by Dr. Morningstar and Dr. Jockers found that chiropractic adjustments and rehabilitation exercises lead to the correction of forward head posture and cervical lordosis and restored pulmonary function.

Findings of the study also suggests that chiropractic care can improve the function of the autonomic nervous system by relieving tension that hinders the vital communication between the brain and body.

Corrective care chiropractors are able to identify abnormal features of the spine using x-rays, postural pictures, nerve scans and various technologies. Doctors then develop a specific care plan used to treat each individual’s concern focusing on chiropractic adjustments and rehabilitative techniques like the 5 exercises that follow.

5 Exercises:

In 30 to 90 days you can improve posture, breathe better, boost oxygenation throughout your body and alleviate tension and pain. Performing each of the following exercises for 1 minute twice a day will boost your body’s total healing potential, reduce your risk of developing degenerative disease and help you to thrive in life.

1)  Hummingbird:

Remove the slouch from poor posture and realign the head with the spine by practicing the hummingbird. This exercise strengthens the muscles between the shoulder blades, improves muscle fibers around the thoracic spinal column, opens up pectoral muscles and lifts the rib cage.

Instructions for Exercise:

Lift arms so that they are parallel to the floor.
Bend elbows and face palms forward to form a 90 degree angle between the bicep and forearm.
Rotate arms backwards in a circular movement while squeezing shoulder blades together.
Repeat for 1 minute.

 

2)  The Eagle:

With this exercise imagine opening up your arms just like an eagle spreads its wings. Stretching your arms overhead will open up the lungs. This boosts oxygen intake to stimulate tissue regeneration in the body and increase blood flow.

Instructions for Exercise:

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
Start with arms lowered and adjacent to sides.
Simultaneously lift arms above the head,
Pause for a moment; and
Lower arms back down to sides in a slow and controlled movement.
Repeat for 1 minute.

3)  Butterfly:

The butterfly is an extraordinary exercise to correct forward head posture. Performing this exercise regularly targets muscles in the neck and shoulders that give rise to chronic neck pain.

Instructions for Exercise:

Focus on lifting chest toward the ceiling.
Bring hands back against head so that thumbs point down. *Optional: If reduced flexibility hinders your ability to lift arms and hands behind head, perform exercise standing flat against a wall. You can also align back of head against car seat.
Use about 10% of strength to push head backward while keeping head straight.
Pause for approximately 10 seconds.
Relax and repeat for 1 minute.

 

4)  Chin Tuck:

An opposing exercise to the butterfly is the chin tuck. This exercise provides balance to the opposite core muscles in the neck by strengthening the deep neck flexors. Performing the chin tuck helps balance the head and neck reducing the occurrence of forward head shift.

Instructions for Exercise:

Focus on lifting chest toward the ceiling.
Maintain head position with ears over the neck.
Place 1 hand on forehead; and
Gently push forward with about 10% of strength (muscles in neck should contract and head should appear immobile).
Repeat for 1 minute.

 

5)  Trap Opener:

The trapezius muscles stabilize the shoulder blades providing support for head and neck movement. Habitual forward head posture pulls and weakens the shoulder blades which consequently also relocates the ribcage.

Unlike the previous four exercise, the trap opener is a favorite amongst patients and is not intended to stretch or strengthen the trap muscles. Rather, perform this exercise to release stress from the trapezius muscles and get rid of the so called “monkey” on your back.

Instructions for Exercise:

Relax shoulders.
Drop the chin towards the chest.
Roll head slightly to the right side.
Use right hand to massage trapezius muscles on the upper left side of the back.
Repeat exercise for opposite side.
Perform for 1 minute.

 

Summary:

 

Don’t ignore the signs of poor posture that can impact your ability to sleep restfully at night or concentrate clearly during the day. Poor posture has devastating effects on the body that can only be treated with mindful practices. Utilize these 5 exercises to improve your posture and reap its benefits reflected in overall health and well being.

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Incorrect postural habits lead to illness, discomfort, pain, and increases the risk for pathogenesis of disease in the body.  You can improve your posture, nervous system function and improve your quality of life significantly. Correct Posture not only influences how you look but helps you breathe, improves concentration, supports vital organ function and stimulates overall well-being. For Answers to any questions you may have please call Dr. Jimenez at 915-850-0900

Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "5 Easy Exercises to Improve Posture" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified health care professional.

Our information scope is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, sensitive health issues, functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from a wide array of disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and support, directly or indirectly, our clinical scope of practice.* Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. In addition, we provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.

We are here to help you and your family.

Blessings

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

Licensed in: Texas & New Mexico*

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General Disclaimer *

The information herein is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified health care professional. Our information scope is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, sensitive health issues, functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from a wide array of disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and support, directly or indirectly, our clinical scope of practice.* Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

phone: 915-850-0900

Licensed in: Texas & New Mexico*

Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "5 Easy Exercises to Improve Posture" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified health care professional.

Our information scope is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, sensitive health issues, functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from a wide array of disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and support, directly or indirectly, our clinical scope of practice.* Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. In addition, we provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.

We are here to help you and your family.

Blessings

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

Licensed in: Texas & New Mexico*