Saturday, April 09, 2011

The Foam Roller Posture Workout

Check with you physician before preforming these exercises or any other.    
Have you ever been told to stand up straight?  Or if someone mentions posture, immediately you begin to lift your shoulders and suck in your gut.  If you sit at a computer all day, do you find that your neck, upper back, and shoulders are tight, tired, and achy all the time?  Do you feel that you are extra tired everyday even though you are getting at least 8 hours of sound sleep at night.  You might have weak and/or tight posture muscles.  So first what is correct posture?  Looking at the human body perfect posture is ear over the shoulder, shoulder over the hip, hip over the knee, knee over ankle.  Weight evenly distributed in the feet, hips are tucked under and in neutral with the knees slightly bent. Chin is level with eyes focused forward.
And it looks comfortable?  Not so much. 
Since Americans live mostly a sedimentary lifestyle, correct posture is not something that comes natural.  We spend most of our time bent over computers or slumped down in a couch watching the tube.  We drive or ride to work and fight to the closest parking space so we don’t have to walk far to the mall. Also poor self esteem and stress will weaken your posture.
Even though I exercise 6 times a week I still struggled with correct posture.  Through a session of PT, I learned readiness position (correct posture) but felt it a struggle to keep my body in correct alignment.  Pilates helped some but since I had lived most of my life with poor posture, maintaining readiness position throughout the day became work.  I found myself feeling even more tired and just figured it was age.  Then I spent a week with my sister-in-law, Sheryl in San Francisco.  She introduced me to the foam roller and its exercises. When I returned home I then incorporated the foam roller into my Pilates class.  I began to see results immediately, not only in my own posture but also my clients.  I also noticed that I was not as tired throughout the day.  I attribute the increase in energy to my strengthen posture muscles which means, I am not working as hard as before holding up my skeleton.  
The following exercises if done twice a day will help to put you on the right road to stronger posture.  It takes five minutes morning and night and I am almost certain you will see a change in posture if not immediately within a week.
Equipment needed:  A 36inch long/6inch circumference dense foam roller and a sticky mat is recommended but not needed.  
Getting on the foam roller can be a little tricky but I have helped women in their 70’s safely lie down on the roller using these simple steps. 

1. Sit on your mat with the end of the roller up against your tail bone. 
2. Placing your hands behind you next to roller lift your hips up onto the roller. 

3. Slowly lower yourself down, lengthen wise on the roller while walking the hands down the back of your legs for support.

Once you are lying back on the roller you will need to put yourself in neutral spine.  You will begin by placing you feet hip width apart and flat on the mat, with knees bent.  Arms down at your side relaxed.

Neutral spine is the strongest position for the spine whether you are standing or sitting.  Performing the pelvic tilt will help you find this position. Exhale and use your abs to press your lower spine into the floor in a pelvic tuck. Inhale to release.  Exhale and pull your lower spine up, away from the floor creating a pelvic tilt.  Inhale to release.  You will want to repeat these tilts 3 to 4 times. 

Ok so you are neutral spine .. now what ... well, ... HTML is driving me crazy so I will have to finish this tomorrow, please don't put yourself on a foam roller and wait till I finish my post and as always check with you physician before preforming these exercises or any other.