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    Good Posture Hacks

    By Cinder Ernst–

    At Easy Fitness, we always want to give you a clear view on how your body works and the simplest way to make improvements. In the last column, we looked at how to improve your posture through awareness and easy corrections. Check the archives.

    Today you will learn 3 Easy Fitness movements that reduce neck, shoulder and upper back pain while they strengthen you for better posture. All of our Easy Fitness small steps (search for Cinder Ernst on YouTube) reduce pain as they help you to get stronger. Strength is also the key to improved mobility and more fun! For detailed explanations of today’s exercises and more, check out my book, Easy Fitness for the Reluctant Exerciser.

    The object of these three movements—they are easy to fit into life, which is why they are called “hacks”—is to strengthen your upper back and loosen the front of your shoulders so you can have less pain yet a good-looking posture. In all of these moves, begin where you are in terms of fitness and proceed gently. If something hurts or feels wrong for you, make it a smaller movement, or skip it and try it again next week.

    Shoulder Rolls

    Shoulder rolls warm up the posture muscles to prepare them for the strengthening. Move your shoulders gently up, back and around. Repeat a few times, and then reverse direction. I know this movement is not new or trendy, but it is very easy and useful. Give it a try now.

    Shoulder Blade Kisses

    This exercise is simply squeezing, gently, your shoulder blades together and then relaxing. The most important part of Kisses is that your shoulders go straight back. Most shoulders want to go up and back, but we want to not do that. Try this move in front of a mirror and only move straight back. You should notice no upward movement. If Kisses feel okay to you, repeat five or ten in a row. You are strengthening the muscles in your upper back that help you to keep your ribcage lifted, which is one of the keys to improving posture or to keeping the good posture you have. Shoulder Rolls and Kisses are great exercises to do at your desk or at a red light!

    Swimmers

    Swimmers are self-correcting exercises for upper back and neck pain. They also strengthen the back of your shoulders (rear deltoids) and create flexibility in the front of your shoulders (front deltoids). Swimmers can be done sitting or standing. In either case, you want to start in an upright, good posture position. If you have a shoulder injury or pain during this movement, you can do Half Swimmers, instructions to follow. Find the Swimmer that is right for you and try five. I suggest doing Rolls and Kisses first.

    • Sitting Swimmer

    Sit on the edge of your chair, feet on the floor, ankles under your knees, rib-cage lifted and head a natural extension of your spine. Raise your right hand over your head as if you were in a classroom wanting the teacher to call on you. Let your left hand drop straight down. Right is up, left is down. The motion is to switch them smoothly and rhythmically, keeping your arms straight. The motion happens in front of you and your hands should reach their destinations at the same time. In other words, one is coming up as one is coming down. When done correctly, your “straight in front of you arms” should pass each other at chest height.

    • Half Swimmer

    Follow the above instructions, but stop your arms at chest height. Increase the range of motion as it feels comfortable.

    For all of the above: go easy, have fun and pay attention to your body.

    Cinder Ernst, Medical Exercise Specialist and Life Coach Extraordinaire, helps reluctant exercisers get moving with safe, effective and fun programs. Find out more at http://cinderernst.com