The Wall Stand Exercise is a simple and effective stretch.
With the majority of people having desk jobs sitting in front of a computer, common avoidable postural distortions like Forward Head Posture and Upper Crossed Syndrome have become almost the norm. If you’re able to keep your focus on proper posture from a young age and throughout your life, you have a good chance of never having to deal with these postural issues. Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case most of the time.
The less time you spend on your physical fitness, the more likely your posture will suffer. This exercise can help and takes very little time.
Lately I’ve been giving out this simple passive stretch to many of my clients, so it seems like a good tool to share with everyone. The Wall Stand Exercise is a total body passive stretch that really focuses on the relationship to the shoulder girdle and head/neck position. Optimal posture, when seen from the side, would have your head over your shoulders so that the opening to your ear lines up with the flat end of your collarbone nearest to the shoulder. For many people, due to poor habits when sitting and because we sit for entirely too much time in our western lifestyles, the head has migrated forward. This can lead to many problems such as headaches, neck and shoulder pain and a build up of extra tissue at the base of the neck, a hump known as Dowager’s Hump. The Wall Stand Stretch helps lengthen the muscles in the back of the neck and strengthen the muscles in the front of the neck, which can help correct FHP.
And the Wall Stand Exercise is as easy as standing against a wall… cause that’s exactly what you’ll do. Doesn’t sound like much, but for many people it will be a deep stretch and also a great benefit.
1) Place your wrist against your pelvic bone behind you, with the palm facing the ceiling. Walk back to the wall until your finger tips are barely touching the wall. This is the best way to determine your distance.
2) Place your hips and shoulders against the wall. Many people will try to get their “shoulders” against the wall and in doing so will retract their shoulder blades, pulling them together toward the spine. This will actually pull your spine off the wall and doesn’t allow the spine to align properly. So keep your shoulders as relaxed as possible and don’t pull your shoulder blades together.
If your posture is so compromised that you can’t get the back of your head against the wall, this will be your stretch for now.
4) Place your head against the wall. For people with a long term Upper Crossed Syndrome or FHP, when you place your head against the wall, your head will be tilted backward and you’ll be looking upward. This is fine for the beginning. You may already feel a stretch. This preliminary level is totally passive, you’ll allow your body to rest against the wall and you won’t work in any way to change the way you’re against the wall.
5) Hold the position for one full minute. Then walk away from the wall and let everything relax.
6) On your second repetition, you’ll do the same first 3 motions. When you get to placing your head against the wall, this is your advancement: instead of just allowing your head to rest against the wall, you’ll place your head against the wall then lengthen the back of your neck by bringing your chin downward toward your chest while keeping the back of your head against the wall. This is the important part. The head must stay against the wall. This will cause you to activate your cervical flexors (the muscles on the front of your neck) and lengthen the cervical extensors (the muscles on the back of your neck). In FHP, the extensors are too short and tight and the flexors are too long and weak. By actively using the flexors in the wall stand, you’ll begin to correct this muscle imbalance, so that the postural correction stay with your after you get off the wall. Again, you’ll hold the position for one full minute. Then step away.
So if you feel like your head is always in front of your shoulders, give this stretch a try a few times and please do let me know how it makes you feel in the comments below.