We’ve talked a lot about the importance of posture, moving the way God designed, and how it can affect your health. Now let’s get practical and introduce some “corrective” exercises in order to undo any *ahem* not-so-perfect posture habits we may have learned over the years.
Since I’ve been a little busy moving (due to mold) and resting (due to illness), I thought this would be a good time to share a post I wrote awhile back that was never published. Disclaimer: The pics were taken back before I knew much about dressing for health and modesty. But at least it should be easy to clearly see the exercises this way.
These exercises are not a cure-all or prescription but rather a set of movements that can combat muscle imbalances typically found in the general population. If you don’t have one particular imbalance, praise God! And move forward to something else.
But if this alignment is not your default, or you have some problem areas, or you live in this imbalanced world, then sprinkling in a few corrective exercises can help to restore health and balance to your problem spots.
Remember, the goal is to move the way God designed to His glory. Being aware of and practicing moving well is the first step in making good postural alignment a lifestyle.
Mix it up
I’m not advocating doing these same exercises everyday. But if there’s one (or a few) of these that are particularly troublesome, it’s an indication that’s an area to keep working on, both with exercise and in ordinary movements.
They are also a great start to assess what your problem areas are so you can be aware of your weaknesses. Thankfully, the Lord’s strength becomes perfect in our weakness, and I believe He gives us ways (trials) to make us more aware of our character flaws as well.
He has also given us science and reason to better understand how to care for the bodies He designed. Praise God for not leaving us in dark.
Thankfully, exercise doesn’t have to be done in a gym or even as a specific time set aside to workout. Here are some ways to sneak in some postural correctives into your regular day.
In the Kitchen
Set up alignment check-points in the kitchen such as at the sink, a counter for food prep, the stove, etc….anywhere you will be working for a bit. Here are a few exercise ideas to do while you’re working in the kitchen:
1) Calf stretch at the kitchen sink:
Place a half foam roller in the kitchen as a reminder. If you’re like me and have little ones running around, it’s likely the half foam roller won’t stay in one place for long. In that case keep it inside a cabinet or under a rug so it’s not so tempting to carry off. Or if you don’t have a half foam, roll up a rug or open up the cabinet under the sink to use the ledge for a stretch.
2) Shin stretch at the cutting board
I have a cutting board that is always out and is where I spend a lot of time chopping fruits and veggies. It’s a great spot to do a top of foot stretch because there is a rug right behind me for padding.
3) Toe raises and spreads at the stove
While standing at the stove, do toe lifts, trying to lift and lower each toe separately. Then work on spreading the toes out like a fan. Can you stir food and work your toes at the same time?
Through the Doors
4) Frame Hang
Reach up to the top of the doorframe and (gently) stretch. You probably shouldn’t hang all your weight on the frame, unless you want to see how well your trim is attached. 😉 Try this every time you walk through a door.
Stand just inside the doorframe. Reach up and grab the side frame with the hand nearest the frame. Grasp that wrist with the other hand. Let the body arch to the side in a c-shaped curve. Try to keep from twisting at the hips or shoulders. Better yet, do this one outside with a tree! See this post.
6) Door angels
Stand in a doorway and open up your arms wide. Place your palms on each side of the doorframe.Take a step forward with one foot to stretch your chest (pec muscles). Keep your shoulder blades flat and wide.
Try alternating stretches depending on direction you’re going. For example when you’re going one way into a room do a hang, when going back out, do a c-stretch or door angel.
7) Squat in the laundry room
Keep a towel, rolled up exercise mat, or 1/2 foam roller in the laundry room to place either under your heels or behind your knees (or both) if needed to keep your spine and pelvis in a neutral position. Squat while getting laundry out of the dryer, folding, or putting it in the laundry basket.
8) Sidestep to put laundry away or hang it on the line
Use a stretchy band or no resistance to side step while you put your laundry away. Be sure to check alignment points before (and during) the walk.
Bonus: For extra glute work (who doesn’t need this?!), try over-emphasizing the push-off by pushing down your non-moving foot into the floor before lifting the other one. Think about it as if instead of lifting your leg to take a step, you’re pushing down through the opposite foot into the floor to get the other foot up.
9) Standing hip opener to make the bed
While making or changing beds, keep your legs wide and tailbone up. Then bend forward at the hips to pull up the covers. Slowly rock back and forth, shifting your weight from side to side as you pull up each layer. Keep your feet planted and pointed straight ahead. Inner thigh stretch. Check.
Bonus: Keep your kneecaps facing forward by rotating your thighs out the whole time.
10) Double calf stretch at the bathroom sink
Double calf stretch while washing face, hands, or brushing teeth. This is a really good reminder to keep the back from rounding when bending over the sink … or anything else for that matter.
A few more tips:
- Put up sticky notes or pictures at each check-point as reminders. It may even encourage others to give it a try.
- Set reminders/alarms on your phone to check your postural alignment at specific times or places
- Leave exercise equipment strategically placed throughout the house to remind you to check your posture or do a stretch
Having visible and planned checkpoints can help create a new healthy posture habit. Not only can creating check-points take off the guilt of “not having time to exercise”, but can train you to be aware of your posture throughout the day, which is really the secret to improving your postural alignment for the long-term.
What you do with your body All. Day. Long. is the KEY to health!
Live in alignment with God’s design.
P.S. If you want to dig deeper into living to move according to God’s design to represent Him and for optimal health, check out the Made to Move His Way online devotional exercise classes. You’ll never look at exercise the same again.