Does the picture of the guy in the headband look familiar? If you have a job it probably does. We live our lives in flexion. We wake up. We drive to our place of business and we hunker down over our work and drive home after a long day to have a meal and fall into a comfortable piece of furniture.
Whether you suffer from a stiff back and tight shoulders or you are an athlete who has difficulty maintaining lumbar extension during a heavy deadlift, intervening on this chronically flexed lifestyle will make you stronger, decrease your frequency of injury and help you remain strong and mobile into your later years.
In addition to causing aches and pains and diminishing the strength and functionality of the spine, increased thoracic kyphosis (flexion) is associated with increased mortality rates and subjective poor health in elderly populations. *
OK- I think you get the point now that slouching isn’t good but your mom has been telling you that for decades to no avail. What is useful about this posting is the solution: The Brugger Relief Position as pictured below is your tool to have balanced biomechanics in the context of your imbalanced lifestyle. This position is not intended to be held all day. It is a vigorous static exercise meant to tip the scale of your equilibrium back to neutral: 2 hours in a passive flexed position + 20 seconds in active extension = Balance.
Here’s how it works:
Best results when performed hourly (try setting your outlook calendar to remind you), or 8x per day and held for 20 seconds each bout.
1) Actively engage the muscles of your foot arches by pressing your toes down and scrunching the aches of your feet up and off of the arch support in your shoes.
2) Push your hips back.
3) Drive your chest forward. The image to use here is a hollowed back as though sitting against a beach ball.
4) With your elbows at your sides, rotate your hands away from your body and supinate your hands (turn them all the way upwards)- remember, this is not a relaxation position. This is work. That is why 20 seconds of effort can neutralize hours and even days of destructive habits.
5) While gazing directly forward, pull your chin back into your neck. When done correctly this will give you the appearance of having up to four chins.
6) This is the most important part; Lower Your Shoulders. They won’t go far, maybe a quarter inch down. You will know when you have it when you feel the muscles below your shoulder blades feel tight and crampy. You’ll also feel a stretch that goes up to the base of the skull.
7) Start from the bottom at your feet and redouble your efforts to push a little further with each step. You can always go a little further.
This is the best micro break around and it is effective even when only held for a moment. It directly addresses and counters the postural strains that had you needing a break in the first place. What I like about it is that it changes your posture without you having to consciously “sit up straight.” It changes the tone of your muscles so that through sustained efforts over time your natural resting posture is stronger and more erect.
*Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine
Publisher Springer Japan
ISSN 1342-078X (Print) 1347-4715 (Online)
Issue Volume 12, Number 6 / November, 2007