Tummy Time- it’s not just for babies!

Most people know tummy time is important for babies, but did you know it’s great for adults too?!  

Tummy time helps baby develop strong neck, shoulder, and back muscles and helps prevent the baby’s head from flattening.  Us adults don’t have to worry about the back of our heads flattening out; however, we should be concerned about the strength of our muscles in our neck, shoulders, and back.  

In today’s technological society, most of us spend much our days bent over our phones, computers, tablets, and TVs.  We are pretty much constantly glued to a screen- while waiting in line, laying in bed, sitting in a waiting room, lounging on the couch, etc.  Even when we’re not enamored by technology, our day to day tasks cause us to form a hunched, head forward posture.  For example, picture your own posture while working at your desk, driving in the car, cooking, reading, cuddling with you kiddo, etc.  I bet you pictured your shoulders rounded forward with your head tilted down and forward. 

We are not meant to be in this posture for extended periods of time.  In fact, every inch your head moves forward puts an extra 10 pounds of pressure on your neck muscles.  They have to work overtime to hold your head up.

If we spend a lot of time in this posture, our muscles get used to it.  So even while we’re standing or walking around, our shoulders roll forward and in and our head goes forward.  This puts a LOT of strain on your neck, shoulders, and back which leads to tension and pain.  It also can cause headaches and even causes your breathing to be less efficient because there’s less room for your lungs to expand.  There’s even an unofficial diagnosis for it- text neck!

While most of these activities are impossible to avoid or no fun to avoid, there are some things you can do to lessen the effect they have on your body...  

5 tips for better posture and less pain!

1. Hold your phone/tablet/book up to your eye-level instead of tilting your head down to look at it.
2. When lounging on the couch at the end of a long day or reading in bed, don’t put a pillow directly behind your head, as this usually causes your head to jut forward.  Arrange the pillows so they support your upper and lower back, so you’re comfortable, but in a better posture.
3. Use speakerphone, a headset, or bluetooth when talking on the phone. 
4. If you have to bend over a screen for an extended period of time, don’t forget to stop every 20 minutes to stand up, stretch, and move around a bit, even if it’s just for a few seconds.
5. TUMMY TIME!!!

Counteract the hours we spend hunched over, by doing some tummy time to help strengthen your extensor muscles in your neck, back, and shoulders.  Try doing this exercise while watching TV, while playing with your kids, or if you get a short break at the office.  It only takes 30-60 seconds!  We do this during commercial breaks while we’re watching TV or during time in between seeing patients.  It’s also known as baby cobra for all you yogis out there.  Ok, now for the how to...

Lay flat on your tummy with your palms on the floor directly under or right beside your shoulders, like you're about to do a push-up.  Hug your elbows to your sides.

Now, squeeze your gluts, press your hands firmly into the floor and lift your upper body from your shoulders, just a couple of inches, keeping your head in alignment with your shoulders.  Make sure you’re lifting from your shoulders and not from your neck.  Your shoulders should rise gently off the ground. 

Gently glide your shoulders down until your neck feels long and your arms stable and grounded. Don’t forget to breathe!  Hold this for 5-10 seconds, then rest and repeat.  Even doing this just a few times every day can provide tremendous relief from neck and back pain.  Disclaimer- this should not cause any pain, but should feel like a great stretch while strengthening your back.  If it causes any pain, stop immediately. 

Once you have this down, there’s some more advanced adult tummy time exercises we would love to share!  Let us know how your tummy time goes!