One of my favourite positions in Essentrics, a dynamic stretching and strengthening workout that targets all 650 muscles and 360 joints in one class, is called Neutral Elongation. It is excellent at fighting the effect that gravity takes on our spine over time.

The truth is because of our largely sedentary life (I just stood up to finish writing this post) our posture has a tendency to go from straight to forward leaning. Gravitational forces are constantly pulling us downward, so our poor postural habits, coupled with weak, atrophied core and back muscles, can contribute to neck and back pain.

After reading through my instructions, I want you to give this posture correcting exercise a try.

Stand with your feet hip width apart. Lift your shoulders up toward your ears and then roll them backward and down, feeling your shoulder blades slide down your rib cage. I tell people to imagine that you are putting your shoulder blades into your back pockets. Then remind yourself that your chin should be back so that your neck is lined up over your spine. Already this pose will feel like work because most of us do not stand or sit with proper posture and as a result our back muscles have become very weak.

As you inhale, I want you to let your arms float up in front of you, bending them at the elbow and then raise them overhead. Exhale and slowly straighten your arms, depressing your shoulders at the same time. Your arms should be lined up with your ears but that can be very hard for some people, so just lift your arms upward in a pain free range of motion.

Now slowly reach for the ceiling, one arm at a time, keeping your eyes forward. I want you to reach up for a count of 3, until you feel you can go no higher but then relax and wait a second and see if you can get just a bit higher. Repeat with the opposite arm. Now repeat with both arms at the same time, inhaling and then as you exhale, lower your arms out to the side, gently pushing your palms away. Try to open your chest as you lower the arms, bringing the elbows slightly behind the shoulders. Complete this exercise three times in a row if time permits.

Do this exercise every day if you can and in time, you should see a change in your posture which should alleviate back and neck pain.

See you soon,

Beth