My tip for today is inspired by a fantastic post by my fellow Restorative Exercise Specialist and yoga teacher, Jenni Rawlings: "Is the Cue 'Pull Your Shoulders Back' Helpful?" I love Jenny's blog and this topic is one of my favorites.
Breaking the "shoulders back" habit put an END to the upper back pain I experienced for years and helped me finally begin to make progress healing the diastasis recti (overly separated abdominal muscles) I dealt with after my daughter was born.
It's time to bust some Posture Myths!
Do you have a habit of pulling your shoulders back in an effort to have "good posture"? This cue is so common in our culture that we don't often think about whether it actually carries any anatomical benefit. I know that I diligently did this for years without realizing that it was far more harmful to my body than helpful!
When we pull our shoulders back, we typically compress our lumbar spine, flare our ribcage, inhibit our breath, and create a LOT of tension between our shoulder blades.Habitually pulling the shoulders back also increases the risk of developing diastasis recti, or overly separated abdominal (six-pack) muscles, especially if you are pregnant or postpartum.
Today, instead of pulling your shoulders back, just allow them to relax. You may notice how much less discomfort you feel in your back, and how much more full your breath is.
If your shoulders feel "slumpy" or rounded in this relaxed position, no worries! It's just a signal that you (aka EVERYONE) could benefit from some gentle stretching of the muscles on the front of your chest - particularly your pectoralis. We do so much with arms out in front of us that these muscles become very tight.
More on what you can do to create more fluidity and range of motion in your shoulders next time!