We tend to spend too much time sitting at desks, hunched over laptops and mobiles; leading us into bad postures and rounded shoulders.
A good strengthening routine will both make you better able to lift things, and strengthen your posture to pull the shoulders back and help you stand tall. Whilst we are strengthening our back, we also need to stretch and foam roll our chest to help release our tight muscles.
Please see below two strength exercises and two release exercises:
1. Seated cable row – The seated cable row is predominantly a back exercise, but it also works the back of the shoulders and especially the shoulder blades. The shoulder blades are responsible for keeping us in good posture, so it is an important area to strengthen. Using a low pulley row machine with a V-bar, hold the V-bar vertically and pull towards the waist while contracting the back muscles. Hold the pinch of the shoulder blades and return to the starting position slowly and repeat.
2. Standing one arm row – Using one arm instead of two whilst doing exercise improves coordination and muscle activation. Using a freedom trainer or adjustable cable machine set it at the same height as your shoulder. Stand firm with your core muscles tight and slowly pull the handle towards the side of your torso. Do 10 on each side with a small rest in between. Make sure you keep your shoulders down and back.
3. Chest foam rolling – Prior to stretching, it is always good to do a foam rolling sequence to help loosen your muscles and remove any tight spots or knots. Lying face down, place the roller on an angle under your arm pit. Gently rock back and forth until you find any tight or sore spots. If you do, stay on this area for 10 seconds and exhale deeply. Repeat on both sides and then follow the stretch below.
4. Chest stretch – Using a door frame or a stable pole create a 90 degree angle with your arm. Gently push your wrist and elbow against the pole and rotate your chest outwards. Hold the stretch for 15 to 20 seconds. Repeat three times on each arm.