Let’s face it, we spend a ridiculous amount of time sitting down. Even those people who work physical jobs spend most of their down time sitting. This can lead to major postural and strength issues if it’s not balanced out with the proper movement.
Most people have similar posture to the above picture. We round our shoulders and upper back forward, and push the head forward. When we’re standing up we’ll have a pronounced arching of the lower back and the gut will stick out. We have chronic neck, shoulder, and lower back pain. We also can’t even squat down to set in a chair without our lower back rounding let alone picking anything up off the floor. Instead of addressing the actual problems we pop more pain killers, limit our movement so as not to aggravate our back pain, or attempt to just stretch our way out of it. The problem is, those are either just temporary solutions or in the case of stretching, not even the problem at all. As Gray Cook says, “Don’t lengthen one area without strengthening another.”
Here are the real issues we face when addressing posture-
Weak Posterior Chain (upper back, spinal erectors, glutes, hamstrings)
Tight Hip Flexors
Poor Hip Mobility
Poor T-Spine Mobility
Crappy Movement Patterns
Now, for those who are starting at square 1 in addressing all this it can seem like a daunting task to get everything back in order. What I’m here to do is break it down in the simplest terms and make it easier to apply.
The very first thing that has to happen is improving the quality of the soft tissue in the areas you are trying to manipulate. This is done via foam rolling. Foam rolling helps to break up the adhesion’s in the muscle fibers as well as the surround fascia. This will allow for better extensibility of the muscle as well as helping to improve blood flow to it and the surrounding tissue. This step is very important. The areas you’ll want to focus on are the upper back (avoid the lower back), glutes, piriformis, hamstrings, adductors, IT bands, quads and calves. This video show how to do pretty much all those properly.
Foam roll for a couple weeks before starting with any hardcore mobility type movements. Initially foam rolling is going to be incredibly uncomfortable but after a couple sessions it won’t be quite so painful. I personally look forward to my foam roller because I feel much better after I’m done. Eventually the foam roller may not be hard enough to to do the job anymore (unless you get one with the stiff core) so you’ll need to move on to something like regular PVC pipe, lacrosse balls, or softballs.
Beginner Mobility Movement: The Goblet Squat
Read the article and begin with just your body weight. Once you can Goblet Squat just your own body weight you can move on to the other mobility movements.
For those that have been foam rolling for awhile and are ready to move on to some more specific movements these are two I really like.
#1- Squat to Stand with Reach (Hips/T-Spine): 10-20 reps
#2- Ankle Mobility (Ankles): 5 straight forward, 5 over the big toe, 5 over the little toe (don’t change foot placement)
#3- Hip Flexor Stretch: Hold 30-60 sec per side
#4- Naked Get Up (Shoulders/T-Spine): 10-15 reps per arm
If you have a job where you spend a large amount of time sitting, work up to doing this twice per day. These are also great warm up exercises before hitting the gym! Like the title of this post eludes, these are quick movements you can do to really help out your movement without taking up tons of time.