find out what just three minutes a day can do for your posture!
At The Natural Doctors, we believe that the foundation of good movement begins with taking care of your posture and spine. Xandra has put together a rapid, three-minute programme (from our comprehensive Realign programme), that can help almost anyone to increase their spinal mobility.
why are posture and movement so important?
These gentle exercises are designed to be suitable for any age, with any level of fitness. The objective is to be slow, gentle and to listen to your body, and let it guide you through these movements. It is not a competition – remember, we are all different, with differing levels of flexibility, but, as you keep working the daily programme, you will find your level of flexibility will gradually increase and your muscles and joints will feel the benefit of regular use. The movement will also help wake you up if you are feeling sluggish and increase blood flow and circulation. It’s a win-win – in just three minutes!
The busy life stretch loosens and opens your chest, which can often feel tight from being at a computer, driving, gardening or playing with the kids. Loosening these muscles helps to balance your posture and allows the upper back to pull your shoulder blades back and down. In this position, your breathing can become easier and you can walk taller, improving your balance and the appearance of your posture.
The chest stretch takes a little time, but it is doing so much more than just stretching. It is helping reverse your posture to make your shoulder blades go back and down. It stretches out the chest muscles which can help you breathe easier. It is also extremely relaxing, as it helps all those stress hormones to lower and allows feel-good hormones to flood your system.
The cat stretch moves all parts of your spine to loosen your joints safely, reducing stiffness as well as increasing joint awareness, which could help to improve your balance (and it feels so good)!
The superman stretch increases core strength in your lower back, your shoulder blades and your neck and helps to build your gluteus (bottom) muscles to better support your hips. By doing this on a less stable surface (such as a bed), you engage more core muscles and work your balance, so that your joints are better aligned, whilst decreasing the possibility of falls and injuries.
Our joints are wonderful things – each has sensors that relay information to the brain about where they are and how they move. Keeping these sensors guessing and working can help to develop improved balance and coordination. By stretching the joints in this way, you are also activating your core muscles, increasing the stability of the spine, which helps to develop improved posture.
so… are you ready for the posture challenge?
What’s great about this challenge is that you can do each movement at a time that suits you – you don’t need to do them all together to reap the rewards. And it’s just four short exercises – that’s it! Just fit each exercise into your day at a time that suits you. Of course, you can repeat the exercises more if you’d like to. It’s your call. Your body will thank you for it!
1. busy life stretch (less than 20 seconds)
This is a three-part exercise that gets your whole spine moving in seconds. Repeat each movement three times, up to three times a day.
- You can start this in either a sitting or standing position – whichever is most comfortable.
- Start facing forward, shoulders relaxed. Rotate your head to look as far as you comfortably can over your left shoulder. Without dropping your chin towards your chest, turn your head to look over your right shoulder. The movement should flow smoothly and gently.
- With your hands in your lap or on your knees, rotate your shoulders in big circles backwards, and then forwards.
- Use your hands to lift your left knee towards your chest, then let go. Repeat with the right knee.
2. chest stretch (40 seconds)
If you can’t get to a bed to do this stretch during the daytime, try and do this stretch every morning and evening, as you wake up and then again, just before bedtime.
Lie on your back on your bed and reach your arms out to the side, making sure your palms are facing up. Gently bring your arms up towards your head, so that your body forms a ‘Y’ shape, and you feel a comfortable stretch through your chest. Hold for 20 seconds. Do this morning and night to reset your posture and help prevent your shoulders from slouching and rounding. This stretch is super-relaxing and feels great after a tiring day.
3. cat stretch (20 seconds)
Kneel on your bed, with your arms shoulder-width apart and your knees in line with your hips. Have your head in a neutral position, looking down at the bed, with your spine and head aligned.
Arch your spine up towards the ceiling as far as is comfortable, keeping your arms and legs stable, as if an invisible thread is pulling you up by your belly button. Then let your back drop down towards the bed as far as you can in an arch, without forcing any movement. This is a classic yoga stretch to release any tension in the upper back and to strengthen and increase blood flow through the spine. Do this morning and night.
4. superman (bird dog) (60 seconds)
In the same starting position as the cat stretch, tighten your core and lift one leg out behind you so it is straight. (it doesn’t need to go any higher than your back, your body should be one continuous line). Once your leg is in position, lift and straighten the opposite arm forwards so that it is level with your ear.
Hold for 10 seconds and then do the same on the other leg. Repeat three times on each leg, and perform morning and night.
Time taken: 3 minutes.
Benefits: Greater energy, improved flexibility, better posture, increased muscle tone and core strength.
Ready for more? Check out the full Realign Programme from The Natural Doctors (coming soon!)