Reform: Exercise for good posture and strong abs

Reform: Exercise for good posture and strong abs: Upper body extension.

Good posture is paramount. Poor posture can lead to all sorts of problems from headaches to backache, from respiratory problems to a feeling of fatigue just to name a few. An example of poor posture and one we see increasingly these days is where the upper body is rounded forwards creating a sunken chest, and rounded upper back. It’s the typical posture of an elderly person, but I see it particularly in (young) office workers or people who sit behind a computer for hours on end. And even more shocking is that we see it in adolescents who spend hours slumped in a chair, bent forward immersed in their mobile phone screens, exercising their thumbs.    

Most people view exercise as a way of getting in shape, but exercise can do so much more for you. Here is a simple exercise that will open up the chest, and arch the upper back correcting that rounded shoulder posture. It’s also particularly nice to do if you’ve had to sit for hours. It relieves all the tension in the upper back and neck. By opening up the chest you can breathe deeper and fill the lungs with oxygen which will give you more energy. An added bonus is you use your abdominal muscles to bring you back up.

You just need a ball. A football, or ball of that size will do (10 inches/22 cm) if you don’t have an exercise ball.

Follow these instructions very precisely. Technique is everything.

If you have neck problems, or have had neck problems you may want to support your head with either your arms, or a towel that you hold in both hands and run along the back of your head.

If you have shoulder problems and can’t raise your arm(s) to place your hands against your head, or aren’t able to move your arm above shoulder height, you can keep the arms bent with the hands against the front of your shoulders and your elbows out to the side just below shoulder height.

Starting position: Sit on the floor, with your legs extended in front of you and squeeze them together. Begin to lie down and with one hand place the ball just under your shoulder blades. Put your weight on the ball. You should be able to have your head comfortably upright. Place 2 fingers from each hand (to avoid pulling on the head) against the side of your head, elbows are out to the side (see photo below).

Debbie Jenner Pilates Company
Start and finish position. Photo: Kasper van ‘t Hoff

Movement part 1: Breathe in through the nose, and begin to arch the upper back backwards over the ball opening up the elbows as wide as you can. Avoid letting the head hang loosely, just open up the front of the throat as you tilt the head backwards. Keep the pelvis still; avoid arching the lower back (see photo below).

Debbie Jenner Pilates Company
Movement part 1. Photo: Kasper van ‘t Hoff

Movement part 2: As you breathe out through your mouth, draw your tummy in, tuck your chin in and bring the crown of your head up towards the ceiling. Imagine you want to stick your forehead on the wall opposite you. Draw the ribs down towards the pelvis. Finish with the head upright. Avoid coming back up chin first. Tuck the chin in and lift the crown to the ceiling. You make shake if when you start doing this exercise, but do it regularly and your body will get stronger and adapt and the shaking will disappear.

Repeat 10-20 times.

Repeat regularly. It is an exercise that you could do every day. It just takes a couple of minutes.

You can also remain in the backwards arched position if you like and experience the stretch through the chest area.

Have fun. ‘Til the next time!!!

Debbie

One thought on “Reform: Exercise for good posture and strong abs

  1. Hai Debbie,
    Dank je wel voor de fijne oefeningen.
    Ik doe de oefeningen met aanpassingen (opties).
    Oefening 1 doe ik met gebogen benen, knieen recht opstaand, voeten tegen de vloer duwen. Zo houd ik mijn onderrug goed verlengd.
    Oefening 2 plaats ik tegen de “small ball” een nekrol. Zo kan ik deze oefening doen zonder last te hebben van mijn nek.
    Na afloop voel ik heel veel openheid in mijn bovenrug.
    Groetjes,
    Monique

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