Slouching can make us look like a prehistoric human (not cute), but sometimes sitting and standing up straight can be so darn hard. Especially when we're locked into an eight-hour day at the office or watching a marathon of House of Cards , it's easy to assume a slumped position. But over time, poor posture strains the spine, neck, head and shoulders, bringing on backaches, joint pain and even headaches.
Thankfully, you won't have to slip on a brace or stroll around with a stack of books on your head; fixing your form is doable with just a few moves. We chatted with trainer George Vafiades, founder of As One Fitness in New York City, who shared his five favorite moves to strengthen and lengthen the spine, stat.
Lie face down and extend both arms over head. Turn thumbs to ceiling, squeeze glutes, contract core, and lift arms, with head and legs about four inches off the floor. Hold the position for two seconds, then lower. Repeat for 15 reps. "This move will activate the muscles supporting the spine, while also strengthening the shoulders," Vafiades says.
T's and W’s
T - Lie face down on the floor, extend arms to each side, making a letter T. Turn thumbs to ceiling. Contract abdomen, squeeze glutes, pull shoulder blades together and lift arms to ceiling. Hold top position for two seconds, lower and repeat 15 reps. "This will strengthen the rhomboids and middle trapezius muscles which connect the shoulder blade to the spine," says Vafiades.
W - Lie face down, arms extended to the side straight out from shoulders with elbows bent so your forearms are parallel to your neck, making a W. Turn thumbs to ceiling. Brace abdomen, squeeze glutes, pull shoulder blades together and lift arms to ceiling. Hold top position for two seconds, lower and repeat 15 reps.
Find a corner and face into it. Bring your arms up and place your forearms on the wall with elbows bent and hands slightly below shoulder height. Slowly, squeeze shoulder blades together and lean into the corner. Hold postion for three seconds, relax, and move body away. Repeat 12 times. "The move will stretch the chest muscles which will cause you to slump if they are tight," Vafiades says.
UPPER BACK STRETCH
While seated at your desk, place your hands behind your head. Engage your core and slowly lean back over the back of the chair, careful not to press with the neck. Extend over as far as comfortable, relax forward and repeat 10 times throughout the day. It'll help the upper spine be more fluid, which makes it easier hold good alignment, says Vafiades. Plus it's an easy to move to sneak in at the office.