So many babies today spend time in things. Things that keep them safe, like infant car seats. Things that make it easy for parents on the go, like strollers etc. Safety and convenience are great for parents but not so great for babies. One of the biggest LACK of movement babies are getting are tummy time. (I overheard an overwhelmed mom this summer say “And tummy time! If we don’t get them on their stomach enough they might get a flat head.! Agh…” It was one more stressful thing she had to add to her plate….) While more babies are getting the unsightly flat head from too much time on their backs, the real issue lies in the lack of development of their neck and upper back muscles. These can lead at minimum to a delay in milestones and development of the babies nervous system (Yes- motor skills = baby’s nervous system developing) or even worse issues such as inequalities in the muscle development like torticollis etc… Babies should be in car seats in the car, in strollers only while walking (and preferrably they could be held) and the rest of the time on their bellies getting tummy time. (Please go to Pathways.org to learn more more about tummy time and ways to do it!
Adults also have issues with neck and upper back strength (also know as thoracic or neck extension). It started for most of us because we spend too much time sitting (and often sitting improperly with our pelvis slouched). The invention of the i-phone and laptop computers, plus the time spent of computers and we spend a LOT of time with our backs in a C, with really flexed necks… It’s leading to poor looking posture (think young kids with dowager humps) but also low back pain as the rigid upper back bones and muscles get locked in a place of flexion… There are better ways to sit or spend time on the computer – that will be for another blog. However- exercising the upper back and neck to build the proper musculature will go a LONG way to correcting the posture and resulting pain from a flexed back….
My favorite Egoscue University Exercises are the following…. and please, use common sense before trying any of these. They should feel good. If not, please stop.
In static extension, really let your shoulder blades sink and keep that arch in your low back. The arching should come from the tilt of your pelvis…
Wall stretch is less “deep” than the counter stretch. The arch in the back should always be maintained. If you can’t maintain the arch, please switch to an arm position where the arch, driven by the pelvis, can be maintained….
Active cobra is great because it forces you to work that upper back but relax the lower back and body…. Note: keep your neck neutral. This is an IDEAL POSITION for kids to play on devices or even read books…. I love reading on the beach this way…
There are many more extension exercises out there. If you would like a Posture Analysis and exercise series, please feel free to contact me…. Ideal posture and leading a chronically pain-free life is available for everyone with a little work….