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Posture Training for the Pelvis and Ribcage

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Updated March 28, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Posture Training for Upper Back - Upper Back Muscles

Posture Training for Upper Back - Upper Back Muscles

Sofia Santos | Dreamstime
Have you ever noticed how your upper back starts to collapse when you’re tired or stressed? Getting older is another contributor. When our upper back posture collapses, the ribcage compresses down onto the pelvis. And the muscles that control posture get tight. As your upper back slumps or compresses, you may even lose some height. Here is a posture awareness exercise that will get you going lifting the ribcage and upper back the right way.
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 3 minutes

Here's How:

  1. Sit or stand for the pelvis and ribcage posture exercise. Sitting will give you stability, allowing you to focus on doing the exercise right. Standing will allow you to feel how the ribcage and upper back movements affect the pelvis and low back. Both versions offer benefits; I'd suggest starting with sitting and progressing to standing after you're comfortable with the instructions.
  2. Position your pelvis so it is in a slight forward tilt. As you learned in the pelvis and low back curve posture awareness exercise, this forward tilt will exaggerate your low back curve slightly while correspondingly tightening your low back muscles. Unless you have too much curve in your low back or you have a flat low back posture, the position should be pretty natural to you.
  3. Breathe in and as you do, exaggerate the upward lift of your ribcage. Inhaling causes the spine and ribs to extend very slightly. For this exercise, use the breath as a tool to incrementally develop the lift and carriage of your ribcage. In other words, don't max out on spinal extension. Instead, see how the inhale supports the movement of your ribs and upper back, and develop the muscles from there. Also, try to lift the ribcage equally on both sides.
  4. Exhale and allow your ribcage and upper back resume their natural position. You may find that with practice, this natural position has changed. Because you are developing the posture muscles in your upper back, you may find there is more space between your ribcage and pelvis. Congratulations! The pelvis-ribcage posture training exercise is working!

Tips:

  1. If you need a little guidance for your upper back, try this exercise with your back against a wall.
  2. Another variation of the pelvis and ribcage posture training exercise is to raise your arms partway, as shown in the picture. This will give you a different experience for training your awareness. Ask yourself, how is my ribcage moving when my arms are lifted? Do lifted arms make this exercise easier, harder or just different? This is for you to notice.
  3. Do this posture exercise about 5 times and practice it everyday for best results.
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