Make the Marine Core’s secret to their legendary presence and performance your New Year’s resolution.
“Marine Corps Leather necks” where do you think the Marines get this nick name? it’s from a leather strap Marines used to wear around their necks to force good posture. Even though the iconic but uncomfortable leather neck was phased out long ago, what do you think the first thing raw marine core recruits are taught when they get off the bus at boot camp? I’ll give you a hint, it’s not marksmanship or military tactics, or even how to put on their kit… In the fact the first thing being yelled at recruits getting off the bus at bootcamp is to stand at attention, which in civilian terms, is standing with good posture!
Don’t believe me? Then take it from LTC Herman J. Koehler:
“In the training of anyone, nothing equals the importance of proper posture; it is the very foundation upon which the entire fabric of a successful course in physical training must be founded.”
- LTC Herman J. Koehler FM 20-21: War Department Field Manual 2012 Appendix C Effect of Posture
I’m sure you’re wondering why this might be, well aside from giving Marines the presence and discipline they’re famous for its also more important than you might think to their performance in the field.
We all know good posture is importance for back and neck health, but you might be surprised to learn that numerous studies have shown huge psychological benefits to good posture. Your posture has a direct relationship to the way you perceive the world and your subconscious reaction to stressors,
“…it is an accepted psychological fact that good posture is associated with good morale – a man with a good posture feels better and is more positive. A man with poor posture cannot feel as positive, consequently he may develop a negative and discouraged attitude. Thirdly, good posture permits the body to function most efficiently…”
FM 20-21: War Department Field Manual 1946
WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT:
Your next question may be, “Well, where do I start?” Thankfully you don’t have to become a leatherneck to improve your posture! First, it is important to know just what is causing your posture to progressively worsen. Just like the list of reasons your posture is important, many of your daily activities could be harming your posture, but we will focus on 3 that many people struggle with:
- Prolonged sitting at work - Hour after hour and day after day, you sit at your desk and your spine is screaming, “WHY?!” Sitting for long periods of time causes undue stress on your lower back and spine. It is important to get up every couple hours, stretch, or take a walk to get your body moving.
- “Text Neck” - This term is used to describe the negative effect texting (or using your phone in general) has on your neck. By constantly looking down (or to the side while talking on the phone), you develop a curve in your neck that is likely to cause other problems in addition to bad posture.
- Stress -Your reaction to stress has a major effect on your posture. Many people are prone to “creeping shoulders” when they find themselves in a stressful situation. This unnatural position of the shoulders negatively affects your posture as well.
By addressing the causing factors, you can start to accurately pinpoint how to correct and prevent bad posture, but now it’s time to actively fix the damage that’s already been done, here are a few exercises and stretches to help fix your posture.
1) Door Frame alignment Probably the quickest way to quickly correct your posture, but also has some unexpected long-term effects on your neurology, but I’ll touch on that later. Stand inside a doorway with your back pressing against the doorframe, place the heels of your feet against the doorframe as well. Move your head back with your chin up so the back of your head is also touching the doorframe. Now pull your shoulders back and down, here comes the interesting part, start looking around at your surroundings… It may be a bit jarring at first as you’ve most likely grown used to observing the world from a hunched perspective. This is where the Neurology component I mentioned earlier comes in. By simply observing your surroundings when in this position for 15 minutes per day your brain will start to construct new neural pathways resulting in proper posture subconsciously becoming the new normal for your brain, which means you won’t even have to think about correcting your posture, your brain will do so subconsciously!
2) The doorway stretch is wonderful for counteracting the sunken chest you may have developed from years of slouching. Stand inside a doorway (you can also stand next to a squat rack if you’re at the gym). Bend your right arm 90 degrees (like you’re giving a high five) and place your forearm against the doorframe. Position your bent elbow at about shoulder height. Rotate your chest left until you feel a nice stretch in your chest and front shoulder. Hold it for 30 seconds. Repeat with the opposite arm.
3) Thoracic Extension on Foam Roller. The thoracic spine composes the middle segment of your spine. When you see someone with a pronounced hunched back, you’re seeing what happens to the thoracic spine when you chronically slouch. After a while, it loses so much mobility that getting back into the correct and healthy position becomes difficult.
To increase mobility so that your thoracic spine isn’t so hunched over, do some extensions on a foam roller. Place the foam roller under your upper back. Feet and butt should be on the floor. Place your hands behind your head and bring your elbows as close together as you can. Let your head drop to the floor, and try to “wrap” yourself around the foam roller. Begin to roll the foam roller up and down your back, searching for “hot spots.” When you find one, lift your head up and really dig your back into the foam roller. Lay your head back down and continue searching for more hot spots along your thoracic spine. If you don’t already have a foam roller, we strongly recommend using our Neck Vitalizer TM instead, as its far more targeted and adjustable to the curves of your back, not to mention more comfortable!
Breaking the Habit:
After you’ve identified the root causes of your bad posture, loosened up some built-up stress with the recommended exercises and stretches, it’s now time to start building good habits. One way to do this is simply to ask friends and family to remind you of your posture whenever you slouch. This has its advantages as social support will help you keep your new resolution however it can be impractical at times. We recommend you use Kinesiology Tape to help keep good posture without having to constantly think about it. Bad posture is a bad habit, but a habit none the less, and can be extremely hard to break. Ajuvia tape holds your shoulders back and down, giving you instant results and training your muscle memory for long term results
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