I am not sure when it all started, but somewhere between the years of hunching over a breastfeeding baby, carrying a toddler around in my arms, and tapping away at a keyboard, I developed what I like to call “Mom Posture.”
My children were literally becoming a pain in the neck.
Although it was painful, I didn’t realize how bad it had become until my husband and I were trying to pick me out of a photo on Instagram. In a dimly lit field with about 30-40 people, he saw my figure right away. “You’re the one with the Mom Posture.” He was right. Slumped shoulders, forward head, tailbone tucked under. Yikes.
Vanity aside, I realized my posture was giving me headaches, neck and back pain, and most likely sapping my energy. My hunch (pun intended) is that you feel this way too.
I would love to share some exercises with you that have helped me stand up straighter and live with less pain. I can’t promise the headaches will go away because you know, THE KIDS, but I can guarantee some relief from physical tension and a boost in energy.
The most important things to focus on are stretching out those tight and short muscles in the front of your body, strengthening the muscles in the back, and bringing the whole body back to a straight line.
Give these exercises a try, and let me know how you feel!
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
Remember that pelvic tilt I mentioned? This stretch helps with that.
• From a kneeling position, bring left leg out front with foot flat on the ground. Push body forward through the hips, stretching that right hip flexor. Hold for 30 seconds, then bring right arm straight up, slightly twisting body to the right and leaning to the left to go further into the stretch. Hold for 20 more seconds then repeat process on opposite side.
Doorway Chest Stretch
This is an easy stretch you can work on a few times a day to open up your chest and bring the shoulders back to where they should be.
• Standing in a doorway, place hands on either side of the doorway at chest level. Take one step forward and allow the chest to stretch. Hold for 30-60 seconds.
Once you’ve opened up your chest, you want to help keep your shoulders back by strengthening those back muscles.
• Standing with feet hip-width apart and bellybutton pulled towards your spine, place your arms by your side and look straight ahead. Exhale and pull the shoulder blades down and back, squeezing them together. Without letting your lower back arch OR allowing your head to go forward, hold the shoulder blades together for 5 seconds. Release and repeat.
Tip: If you have access to a stability ball, you can also try these YTW exercises.
Using a Foam Roller
When I teach about fitness, I try to incorporate as many exercises as possible that don’t require equipment. With that said, I think it’s completely worth it to buy a foam roller. You can order one online or find them at any sports store (or even Target). Foam rolling helps release tension, break up pesky knots, and keep you flexible.
Foam Roller: Upper & Middle Back
• Lie face up with foam roller under your upper back and feet flat on the floor. Roll from the top of your back to the middle of your back in small movements with your hips elevated off the floor. If you find a spot that is particularly painful, hold for 30 seconds before moving on. Be sure not to roll your lower back as this could cause injury.
Foam Roller: Chest Stretch
• Sit on one end of the roller and then lay back. Your head should be resting on the roller and your knees should be bent with your feet flat on the floor, shoulder width apart. Drop arms out to the side and let gravity stretch the muscles of your chest and shoulders. Hold for one minute.
Repeat any and all of these exercises once a day to bring yourself back up to center.
Posture check! Where are your shoulders and head right now? Are you suffering from Mom Posture too?