Sedentary lifestyles are the leading cause of posture problems, and posture problems are the leading cause of back pain, nerve impingement, discs degeneration and weakened blood circulation in the torso.
And as our society progresses more and more towards jobs that require sitting in front of computer screens for prolong periods of time, it’s clear that this problem won’t fix itself – instead, we should all try to look for ways to straighten up and improve our posture with the hope of preventing serious health problems in the long run. In fact, correcting your posture is the easiest way to reduce back, shoulder and neck pain, while improving your digestion and breathing at the same time.
In this article we’ll uncover a very simple way to improve your posture without the need for any additional equipment or a gym membership for that matter. The exercise is called the lying back extension, or locust pose in yoga, and even though it looks very simple, it will powerfully boost your posture, take the stress off your overworked back muscles and increase both the strength and flexibility of your lower back muscles.
How to perform the lying back extension:
- Stand with your legs hip-width apart, then extend them straight behind you and press your weight evenly across both feet.
- Lie face down on your stomach on a mat with your forehead touching the floor and arms extended out in front of you.
- Contract your lower back muscles, which should generate the force required to lift you up.
- Start lifting yourself up by first raising your head, then the rest of your upper body. Lift your body up as high as you can.
- As you inhale, raise your head to look straight forward, then lift your chest and arms as well, extending your arms back, along the side of the body, towards your feet. Your palms should be facing down.
- With your whole upper body fully extended upward, lift your legs up towards the ceiling by engaging your thigh muscles. Your weight should now rest on your lower ribs, abs and pelvis.
- Squeeze your back muscles and hold the contraction for at least 10 seconds, then slowly return to the starting position.
As you become more comfortable with the pose, you should try to hold the top contraction for longer, for example, one minute. At first, repeat it five times per session, then slowly work your way up to ten repetitions or more.
See picture below:
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If performed regularly, this exercise will help reduce or eliminate lower back pain and stiffness. Keep in mind that when performing it, you’re supposed to feel a mild pull build within the muscle, but experiencing sharp pain is not normal and should be taken as a sign that you have pushed your body too far.