A BABY IS BORN with three posture anomalies: flaccid abdominals, tight hamstrings, and a tendency toward round shoulders. For nine months this little person has been growing and doing his/her best to fit into the nourishing comfort space provided. Once the exit is made the work of a lifetime should begin. To counter the posture anomalies the abdominals need to be strengthened, hamstrings and chest need to be stretched. Ideally the work of a lifetime, the baby’s exercise should begin at once.
Sitting in chairs, cars, in front of TV, in classrooms, while texting, and at work which usually requires that arms are in front, all contribute to the problem of round shoulders and the limitations and issues that eventually come with it. Unless the scourge of modern life is balanced out with the exercises that counter these muscle imbalances, you can expect: round shoulders, dowager’s hump, text neck, and forward head, to be followed by pain, dysfunction, trips to the doctor, and costly but few solutions.
In addition to our sitting way of life, sports, occupations, and diseases such as asthma and emphysema are very hard on chest muscles. And don’t disregard the long-term effect of emotions with their selective postural and movement patterns: fear, sorrow, frustration, and despair.
A round back also limits diaphragm and lung function and therefore oxygen intake.
“Oxygen is very important; in fact, you can’t get along without it. The lungs are your means of getting the stuff, and just as good as those lungs are, that’s how good your supply of oxygen will be. Absolutely everything you want to do, including being able to live until this time tomorrow, depends on the efficient action of those two lungs.” —Teenage Fitness
If your upper back has rounded, so has your spine. And what is causing the rounding? Likely it is tight muscles in the chest that are the biggest contributor together with overstretched and weakened muscles of the upper back.
Solution: loosen and stretch the chest muscles and strengthen the upper back muscles.
- To check the flexibility of the chest muscles, stand with your back to the wall keeping your shoulders, buttocks, and heels against the wall. Raise one arm straight and then the other, trying to see how close you can bring the back of your wrist to the wall. Measure the distance in minus inches, and aim with BP Myotherapy and corrective exercise to obtain full stretch and touch with each wrist.
- To check the strength of your upper back muscles, lie face down with your hands behind your neck. Have someone hold your lower legs down while you lift your upper body like an airplane. Hold for ten seconds..
- To check your vital or lung capacity, put a tape measure around your chest, blow out every wisp of air, and measure. Now inhale fully and measure again. The difference between the first and second measurements is your vital capacity.
Treat the chest muscles by clearing the area of trigger points as shown in the illustrations above.
1. Use your finger in the chest muscles. If working on a man with well-developed pectorals you can use your elbow, carefully. Use the elbow in the axilla carefully. Repeat the treatment in 4 or 5 days in order to loosen the muscles and improve your measured results.
2. Follow with exercises that stretch the chest muscles: Back Stroke and Snap and Stretch. Do the exercises 3 to 4 times a day but only 4 reps at a time. It will take you seconds.
- Back Stroke: Place back of hand against cheek, elbow pressed back. Straighten arm toward ceiling and circle back around to side.
- Snap and Stretch: Hold arms at chest level with elbows bent. Bring elbows back. Return to starting position. Swing straight arms back.
4. Retest and record. You may find that even after one treatment your score is better. Retest again after a week. Keep track until you reach your goal.
Trigger points, for our purpose, are irritable spots that get into the muscles when they are injured in some way. They cause the muscles to tighten and limit range of motion. Birth, accidents, occupations, sports, hobbies, and surgery are all examples of how we accumulate trigger points
To treat trigger points use your finger, knuckle or elbow to press into the muscle. Go slowly. It will hurt. People usually say it hurts but it feels good. Don’t hurt your friend more than a 5, 6, 7 on a scale of 1 to 10. The person being treated should let you know how hard to push. Hold for 7 seconds. Use fingers or knuckles in areas such as face and neck, wrists, hands, ankles and feet. Use your elbow in the larger muscles such as the shoulders, legs, upper arms. Use your common sense and listen to your friend.
The charts and illustrations are from the book Myotherapy: Bonnie Prudden’s Complete Guide to Pain-Free Living, which provides details on how to locate and treat the trigger points as well as the all-important corrective exercises, the key to remaining pain free.
If you have questions or need help, email me at email@example.com.
For more information about Bonnie Prudden®, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®, workshops, books, self-help tools, DVDs, educational videos, and blogs, visit www.bonnieprudden.com. Or call 520-529-3979 if you have questions or need help. Enid Whittaker, Managing Director, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®