Column: Improve posture with wall angels

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Commentary by Seth Tucker 

In the digital age, and especially during quarantine, you may find yourself at risk for poor posture and unnecessary pain. Whether using your phone, typing on the computer or sitting on the couch watching TV, posture can suffer during all of these activities, causing pain and imbalances. You may notice frequent headaches, a stiff or sore neck and general back pain. By chronically rounding your shoulders forward and allowing your head to sink forward during typing, texting or any other digital activities, you put your back and posterior neck muscles on a prolonged stretch. This can cause an overcompensation or protective effect in which the muscles on the back side of our body become stiff and sore in their effort to balance things out. Although these activities may be nearly impossible to avoid, it doesn’t mean the painful side effects are.

By strengthening the muscles responsible for maintaining good head, neck and shoulder posture, you can alleviate pain and discomfort that many desk warriors suffer from. Here is an easy and quick exercise to help combat and reverse pain caused by poor posture. Perform this exercise slowly, using a six-count going up and a six-count going down. It can be performed daily.

Wall angels (two or three sets of five repetitions):

  • Stand with your back against the wall and walk your feet out just far enough that you can keep your entire back, including hips, low back, upper back and head, against the wall. Keep all of these points of contact through the entire exercise.
  • With nearly straight arms, bring the backs of your hands up to touch the wall overhead. Keep your hands, wrists, elbows and shoulders in contact with the wall while you drag your elbows out and down until you have a 90-degree bend at the elbow, similar to the “field goal” signal a football referee makes following a touchdown or field goal. If you are able to bring your elbows down farther without losing any contact points or arching your back, then do so.
  • When you have reached the bottom of your range of motion, reverse the movement to bring your arms back overhead while maintaining all points of contact with the wall. Repeat this for five reps.

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