It’s not natural to wear a mask. Let’s just say it. If you’re like me, you may have noticed a change in your breathing pattern. When you breathe in and your mask gets pulled up to your mouth, you stop your natural inhale. This becomes a learned pattern, which carries over to when you're not wearing a mask. If you don’t do intentional exercises to counteract this, you will continue to take shallow breaths, not allowing your rib cage to expand. In turn, this will mean that your thoracic spine won’t move as it should, and you start slouching forward. (Oh no, nobody wants poor posture!)
Poor posture has negative effects on not only your spine health, but also on blood pressure regulation, lung capacity, mood, and more. Keep reading to learn 2 ways you counteract this on a daily basis.
1. Stretch your pecs and practice deep breathing.
Pro Tip: Be sure to hold stretches for 30-60 seconds and do each stretch 2-3 times. During the stretch, practice taking a deep breath, holding it for several seconds before then slowly letting it go.
2. Mobilize your thoracic spine.
This can be done by rolling your upper back on a foam roller. Slowly roll up and down on the foam roller, placed up near your shoulder blades. Do this for 1-2 minutes. If you get to certain regions that feel really stiff, keep the foam roller at that level, put your bottom on the ground and arch your shoulders backward over the foam roller toward the ground (pictured below).
I’ve said it previously, but the Axle is my favorite foam roller for rolling out the spine. It has a depression in the center of it so the spinous processes (the pokey parts of your spine) can comfortably avoid hard pressure that other foam rollers cause.
Like anything in gaining strength and flexibility, you have to be consistent. Do this every day! Make it a bedtime routine, or do it while you’re waiting for your coffee to brew in the morning. It doesn’t matter when you do it. It just matters THAT you do it.
Happy rolling, friends!