Age, disease, or injury can contribute--singularly or in combination--to a misshapen back and a corresponding loss of height. The pain of a bad back can be debilitating and even immobilising. The loss of height--often due to what's called forward head posture, or swayback posture--can diminish self-esteem. There are useful exercises, however, that can significantly improve the condition of your back and can help you to regain your lost height. Chiropractor Dr. Ryan Pearlman, of Syracuse, NY, recommends three.
Prone Extension Exercise
Lay on your stomach in a push-up position. Instead of doing a standard push-up, however, let your hips and legs remain on the floor and lift only from the waist, gently curving your spine backwards. Dr. Pearlman recommends as many repetitions as you're comfortable with, 20 to 30 seconds each. This exercise will relieve pressure on your lower back and, in some cases, aid in re-aligning discs. Dr. Pearlman adds a word of caution, though. "People doing this exercise should also do exercises to strengthen their abdomen," he says. "It's important to keep your body in muscular balance."
Round-shouldered posture tips you forward, which shortens you and contributes to neck pain. The object of a pectoral stretch is to help relieve pressure on your back by lengthening chest muscles. There are several pectoral stretches. Among the easiest is to simply stand in a doorway with your arms apart and bent at the elbows. Allow your elbows to rest against the door frame and then gently lean forward. Regular pectoral stretches will improve your posture and you'll stand taller.
Cervical Retraction Exercise
One of the most effective exercises for diminishing forward head posture is cervical retraction. Stand straight, with your back against a wall and your chin up. Simply slide your head back to the wall without lifting or turning it. Dr. Pearlman recommends placing your index finger at the point of your chin to maintain proper alignment. "Try to slide your head back so that your ears are directly above your shoulders," he says.
Dr. Pearlman also strongly recommends that, should you have doubt about your ability to safely perform any exercise, you consult your physician or chiropractor.