• Caroline

Postnatal A-Z: O for Opening the chest

Hello sunny Monday and welcome back to my Postnatal A-Z which today covers O as in Opening the chest. Following on from my neck release video last Friday, below are a few exercises to help open up the chest and strengthen the back muscles. The reason these go hand in hand is because if we are tight in one set of muscles, the opposing ones often get long and weak. New mums typically feed and lift their little ones while hunching forward which exacerbates this situation. Add pushing a buggy along with staring at a phone for a few hours a day and the reasons for the hunchback become clear! I was saying to a new Buggyfit mum this morning that although exercising goes a long way towards rectifying this, the best thing you can do is pay attention to how you feed, lift and carry your baby and push the buggy. Because all the right exercises in the world can't undo poor posture and/or breathing throughout the day. If you can, keep these in mind: ❤️Shoulders down ❤️Neck relaxed ❤️Chest lifted ❤️Ribs down ❤️Neutral spine ❤️Core engaged when lifting ❤️And breathe deeply 🙂 I know that's a lot to think about when you are a new mum but if you only remember 1 or 2 of those things, it'll make a difference. I've included a few exercises that will also help (see all the videos on my Facebook or Instagram feeds):

👉 1: Give yourself a hug, cactus arms and lat pull-down - these will work on opening the chest while strengthening your back - remember to squeeze your shoulder blades and keep breathing. 👉 2: Thoracic spine opener - make sure you are properly aligned on all 4s (hips stacked over knees, shoulders over wrists), engage your core and gently mobilise your thoracic spine. Don't forget to do both sides! You can finish with a static stretch with the arm reaching straight up towards the sky. 👉 3: Swimmers - keep your feet in contact with the ground and squeeze your glutes as you lift your arms. Again, squeeze those shoulders blades and keep breathing. If you are due a breastfeed or your front ribs don't like this exercise, you can do this on all 4s, one arm at a time.

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