Worried that you’re becoming a hunchback? Do these things before a workout or on your rest days, and you’ll be standing tall in no time. Whether you are stooped over a laptop all day or you overwork particular muscles at the gym (here’s looking at you, bench press), you could be a victim of rounded shoulders. Some activities – repeated over time – will cause your shoulders, neck and head to fall forward … and stay there. Not only does this look less than ideal, but it could put you in contention for back and neck pain down the track.
The good news? There are some simple exercises that you can do to help correct the rounding of your shoulders. These exercises have two key goals: to release tension in the upper body and to strengthen your upper back. Set aside 10-15 minutes 4-5 times a week to do this workout, and you should start noticing the difference within two weeks.
By really driving the back of your hand into the ground for 15 seconds, then reaching as far as you can for another 15 seconds, you are gently but certainly building up those upper back muscles. This move opens up the rotation in the upper back without rotating through the lumbar spine.
Top tip: Maintain tension throughout the movement.
This exercise helps to reset your shoulder position and reduces the tension in your upper trapezius (the major muscle that extends out from the upper spine) and neck.
Top tips: Keep your elbows under your shoulders, switch on your core yet keep your lower body completely relaxed. Exhale on each reach.
By doing this exercise slowly and deliberately, you’ll increase the strength and controllable mobility in your upper back. Really try to create as much tension as you can throughout the movement.
Top tip: Keep the shoulder blades engaged as though you are crushing a beach ball between your arms.
Another great posture-primer, work this one until you lose your form – that is, your muscles are so tired they can’t hold that tall position any more. You’ll find that you get further and further each day.
Top tip: Take small steps as though you are walking on a tightrope. If you don’t have kettlebells at home, get creative – 2L of milk in each hand could do the trick.