Common Walking Problems: Part 5 of 6 From Upper Body Back to Lifted & Aligned
Correct one of the 6 Common Walking Problems that limit the benefits of exercise walking. Avoid creating repetitive stress injuries that rob you of time, money and fun. Transform walking problems into walking solutions.
5. From Upper Body Back to Lifted & Aligned
The Problem: When we carry a heavy package to our chest, like a laundry basket or a baby, we naturally shift our upper body backward to balance the combined weight. All too frequently this posture becomes a habit. Perhaps you’ve seen yourself in a photo from the side, or in a mirrored store window as you walked past, and noticed that your upper body is back. To stay balanced, the head often shifts forward also. Over time, as we slump, our upper body weight drops onto our low back causing vertebral and disc compression.
Warning Signs: You may have your Upper Body Back if you notice a slower walk, poor posture, head, neck and shoulder tension, collapsed chest or backache.
Somatic Benefits: The psychological shift to Lifted & Aligned often feels like greater confidence, no longer ‘holding back’ or being as concerned with other’s approval.
The Solution: To correct Upper Body Back you’ll lift and slide your rib cage forward and reposition your neck and head. Photographs help connect our kinesthetic and visual images. Have someone take photos from the side before and after you do the following exercises.
Exercises: Rib Cage Slide with Belly Button toward Back Bone
- Stand and bring your hands to your waist. Spread your fingers so they reach from your lower ribs to your hips. Close your eyes to notice what you feel beneath your hands.
- Stand with your back against a wall, head level, heels 4-6 inches in front of the wall, knees slightly bent, buttocks relaxed.
- Gently press both shoulders, both hips, and the back of your head against the wall with equal pressure – 5 point contact. (Your low back keeps its normal curve – don’t flatten against the wall.)
- Reach your arms overhead to lengthen your torso. As you lower your arms to your sides, maintain spinal elongation and 5 point contact.
- Repeat. As you lower your arms, hold your 5 point contact while you gently bring your belly button toward backbone. You’ll notice your core muscles engaging and feel more lifted & aligned.
- Bring your fingers to your sides as before, spanning hips to lower ribs, and notice if your ribcage feels more forward. The wall has forced your rib cage to slide more forward.
- Step away from the wall and shake out any tension. Stand, reach your arms over head and lower them at your sides while maintaining belly button toward back bone. Now use your fingers at your sides to slide your ribcage forward to find that lifted & aligned feeling.
- Take your new lifted & aligned posture for a walk to embody this feeling. Practice walking tall. Use one-minute intervals of reaching your arms overhead and lowering them while maintaining belly button to backbone.
In time you’ll notice deeper breathing, less head, neck and shoulder tension and more.
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