Updated: Mar 20
Stretching beats the slouch, keeps you upright, and your joints happy, reduces soreness and the risk of injury. You can think of it as the Rx or corrective action for protecting your muscles and joints.
Stretching is a natural, instinctive activity that humans and animals do, and it’s one of the best things you can do for your body.
In 2100 BC, the Romans used stretching to keep their soldiers in shape. Today, we use stretching to recover from stress, reduce tension, increase our range of motion, relieve pain, and to beat the slouch which keep us upright and to our delight, it keeps our joints happy, too.
One of our battles is against the long hours we spend in that forward lean at our desks, on our computers and on our phones. Those are the worst culprits, but we might catch ourselves all slouched up, reading in our comfy chair or settling in, or shall I say slouching in, our ‘spot’ to binge watch Netflix.
It’s at these times that we need to get up and do some stretching, giving our hard-working bodies a break by pulling back rather than stay slouched and rounded. While these breaks play a big role in keeping us upright, stretching is so important, it should be central to our daily routines and workouts.
At Vigor and Trim, we have stretch, mobility and pilates videos and online classes highlighting the important relationship between stretching and health and how it enhances movement.
Stretching Muscles That Keep the T-Spine Mobile
From the base of the neck to the bottom of the ribcage, the Thoracic Spine or T-Spine can move in all planes of motion in various degrees. In our blog about thoracic mobility, Constant Slouching at Your Desk Decreases Your Upper Body Mobility, we talked about how slouching can, over time, create a postural deviation. Muscles get tight and pull vertebrae that cause misalignment and structural change. We get stuck in that forward slouch, and we can lose the ability to stay upright.
Stretches that Lengthen to Combat Compression
Two groups of muscles that play a big part in that imbalance are the pectorals and the latissimus dorsi. Often, these muscles are found to be short and tight, and they can keep the T-Spine from being mobile.
Below, we have some videos that can stretch the muscles that keep the T-Spine mobile. Putting these stretches in your daily routine can increase your range of motion which will allow you to gain strength to hold yourself more upright.
In the Child’s Pose position, we’re counteracting all that compression from slouching in that forward lean by lengthening the spine. Child’s Pose releases some of the pressure in the spinal discs and provides a gentle and restorative release of the low back which often suffers from poor posture.
Doing a Child’s Pose increases blood circulation and increases the function of organs and tissues. The circulating blood transports oxygen and nutrients to the spine, brain and organs and carries waste and carbon dioxide away. The deep fold of a Child’s Pose also massages the organs aiding in digestion and motility.
Child’s Pose also releases tension by connecting you to your breath, bringing balance and energy to your body and mind.
Thread the Needle
Thread the Needle opens the shoulders, chest, arms, upper back and the neck and releases the tension between the shoulder blades. It’s spinal rotation helps reduce even more tension. Thread the Needle is a great way to stretch the upper back and helps increase the range of motion.
This stretch can gently open the cervical spine (neck) and the T-Spine (thoracic spine) which are areas that often get really stiff as a result of that slouched position.
Above the Head Chest Stretch
The Above the Head Chest stretch gives you that opportunity to stretch those chest (pectorals) muscles which can increase your range of motion and is a good stretch to improve your posture.
This front body stretch can increase length of the connective tissue and increase the range of motion in the shoulders and chest. An increase in ROM will help upright the thoracic spine, improve the posture and allow for pain free movement. See more upper body videos.
Cross-Body Adduction Shoulder Stretch
Don’t let the words scare you off. You’ve probably seen this stretch quite a bit, and maybe even have done it a time or two.
This cross-body shoulder stretch works on the rear part of the deltoid or rear shoulder muscle. The rear delt is a main stabilizer and assist in keeping the shoulder in place which ultimately helps you maintain proper posture.