This article is part of the “Identifying & Fixing Imbalances” series, which addresses common muscular imbalances.
Take a quick look at all these pictures…What do they have in common?
All these individuals’ body alignment are pulled in, similar to the fetal position.
Why does that matter? Because it affects your posture, muscular balance, mood, and even your hormones!
Everyday we spend hours in the fetal position and aren’t even aware of it. This affects your posture and muscular balance for obvious reasons, but what most aren’t aware of is that it affects far beyond that. Your body responds holistically to how you carry yourself. I was first made aware of this by some of Mike’s posts at D&P. He covers some great points and lists some of his favorite exercises to correct this problem.
I would like to add on to Mike’s suggestions with a few of my own. Doing these exercises daily will help fix the most common muscular imbalance (at least in developed nations) and leave you feeling refreshed, stronger, and more confident.
Stage 1 – the standard stretch
Mike does these regularly. It’s easy to do, stretches the muscles in the opposite direction of the fetal position we commonly adopt, and promotes blood flow and deep breathing. An added bonus is you can do these anywhere without people looking at you weird. Whenever I feel sluggish at work, I will do this stretch a few times to get blood and muscles oxygenated.
If you sit at work (something I would advise against), you can perform a variation of this stretch by placing your hands behind your head and arching back. Not as good, in my opinion, but still helps.
Stage 2 – The back bend
This takes the standard stretch to the next level by arching your back further and really stretching all the muscles along the front of your body. Some balance is required as you go further.
If you have balance issues or you want a deeper stretch, you can use a wall to walk yourself further down.
stage 3 – the back bridge
The king of anti-fetal position stretches. The back bridge stretches the shoulders, pecs, abs, spine, and the front of the hips and thighs. In addition, it strengthens the shoulders, spine, glutes, and thighs.
For extra badassery, do back bridges like these guys.
I would suggest doing these stretches daily. Here’s a sample routine that will help combat the daily wear of being in a fetal position:
- First thing in the morning – Perform 5-10 of the standard stretches, breathing deep and stretching up & back. Then, depending on your level of fitness and flexibility, perform a 10-20 second back bridge or back bend.
- Throughout the day – Perform standard stretches as needed. Whenever you’re feeling tired, tight, or stressed, do about 2-3 stretches standing up on seated at your desk.
- In the evening – Add a back bridge or two to your workout routine. I personally treat it as a stretch to do during my cool-down. Experiment and find where in your workout routine it works best for you. Shoot for 10-30 seconds per rep.
Give these exercises a shot for a couple of weeks and let me know how you feel. What were some benefits you noticed? What were the challenges? Were there any specific issues you experienced while doing these stretching routines?