The ultimate sitting posture stretch for desk or office.
“I can’t believe such a simple exercise has made such a big difference, I wouldn’t have believed it.”
This is what I heard recently from a patient who has been doing our customized posture stretches.
And we’ve got a great one for you this week! The Opener is one of the BEST posture stretches you’ll ever do.
Why did I create this sitting posture stretch?
I don’t need to tell you that we’re all slouching these days. We’re stuck on our devices for hours on end and there’s no relief in sight. The same old posture stretches people have been doing for years are simply not effective to reverse the damage of the ongoing hours we spend online.
I know we’re all trying our best. Patients often show me how they’re squeezing their shoulder blades together and stretching their necks forward to try to relieve some tension. Unfortunately, while these “same old” stretches are popular, they won’t work. They may provide you temporary relief but they can actually cause new issues and definitely won’t correct your posture.
That’s why I created this stretch. It’s a smarter way to use your limited stretching time for maximum results. If you do it 2-3x/day for 8-10 breaths, you’ll notice a drastic change in the way you look and feel.
The two principles of The Opener: The ultimate sitting posture stretch
The two main areas we’re going to tap into are Length and Breath. Your body naturally aligns and relaxes when we maximize each of these.
Step 1- Long Length:
Your spine works best when it’s lengthened.
A lengthened spine aligns your joints, frees up pinched nerves, strengthens your core and even improves your mood.
To ensure you are lengthening both your neck and your entire spine, we’re going to use a technique called “measuring sticks”. This is taught by one of my favourite spine strengthening websites called Foundation Training.
It’s a simple tool that focuses on the area between your bottom ribs and your pelvis/hips. Here’s how to do it:
Place your pinky fingers on your hip bones that stick out in the front of your body. (Think of where you’d put your hands on your hips). Place your thumbs on the bottom of your ribs.
Notice the area between your pinkies and thumbs, the goal is to make that space longer.
As you breathe in, try to grow taller and lengthen the area between your pinky and thumb. Do not bend or extend yourself backwards – the motion is straight up to keep the ribcage in neutral over your pelvis. Think up, not back. As you exhale try to maintain the area you created.
Repeat for 5-8 breaths:
The amount of space you create may not seem like much but the way it feels is more important than the way it looks. Take a moment to tap into how good it feels to create more space between your vertebrae.
This definitely takes some practice, and it’s OK to lengthen out the top of your head at the same time. Just be sure NOT to pull your shoulders up to your ears, they stay relaxed and just go along for the ride.
You will just use the measuring sticks as cue for lengthening when you are learning the stretch. They help ensure you’re lengthening the correct area. You do not actually use measuring sticks during the stretch.
Step 2- Complete Breath as you Open:
Your body wants to breathe in as much oxygen as possible with each inhale. More oxygen means more energy & faster healing.
One of the issues of poor posture that doesn’t get enough attention is that it results in 30% less oxygen intake. That’s a lot! That’s literally 30% less vitality.
We definitely want to sit tall and open our lungs but many people squeeze their shoulder blades together as an attempt to keep themselves straight. Here’s why that’s very detrimental:
We often forget that so much of the oxygen our lungs absorb is in the back (posterior) area. If we squeeze our shoulder blades together, the lungs can’t open. Think of your lungs expanding like balloons… they are supposed to expand in all directions. We want to give them maximum freedom to open up, and squeezing your shoulder blades creates a barrier to ideal breathing.
Are you thinking that you have to open your rounded shoulders? Yes! But we’re going to do that from the back of the shoulder and rotator cuff area.
We want to keep the muscles between our shoulder blades as relaxed as possible. So, instead of squeezing the muscles between the shoulder blades, we’ll contract the muscles in the back of the armpit and the back of the shoulder.
How do I access these muscles?
In this stretch we have you turn your palms up and sit on them. Your elbows will now be bent.
Pull your elbows back gently as you keep the area between your shoulder blades open. You should feel your chest open and the outer parts of your upper back contract.
You may feel that this motion is harder to do with the arm you mouse with. That likely means you need your ribs adjusted by one of our chiropractors.
You can feel these muscles by trying one of our exercises like The Hitchhiker. Contracting these muscles opens (or externally rotates) the shoulders while allowing the space between the shoulder blades to stay relaxed.
Combine these two motions and voila…The Opener.
- Start in a seated position sitting on your hands
- Pull elbows back gently
- Inhale, grow taller between the ribs and hips
- Exhale, open your chest
- Repeat 8-10 times, 2-3x/ day
Mastering the two movements in this exercise and combining them will drastically improve your posture for the short and long term.
If you find either of the 2 steps hard to do, you likely need an adjustment to open the joints and allow you to stretch more deeply.
This stretch is very unique. It takes extra focus at first to do it correctly, but once you’ve got it, you’ll be able to restack your spine and your muscles will hold it there.
All of the stretches we create focus on efficiency and results.
This one is amazing for both.
If you have any other questions or would like an appointment with one of our London Ontario chiropractors please let us know.