Stretch for less pain, better posture and more energy

The mantra of our time seems to be… so much to do, so little time to do it.

We’ve got so many things draining our energy, stealing our attention and vying for our time that we truly do need to take time to protect ourselves from being depleted.

The place to start is to first discover what’s draining your energy because to get it back, you’ll need to stop the leaks…

Imagine a siren going off right outside your window. It would be an obvious stressor that would get your attention in a big way — and you would have an immediate reaction to. You could close the window or go to the other side of the house.

A physical pain from injury is another big attention-getter. You’ll do something right away to reduce or eliminate it. You might try ice, heat or a bandage.

What about the more subtle drains on your energy? The every-day strain of muscles that are made tight or passively pulled goes more-or-less unnoticed, unless, that is, you’re a Medical Exercise Specialist.

I regularly see people who have repetitive action or posture discomfort they neglected for far too long. This can result in upper back and neck pain and strain—which are among the biggest complaints I hear from women.

And as my colleague Jenny Smiechowski pointed out, poor posture is a downer.  Sitting up straight is the easiest, quickest way to get out of the dumps, feel better and feel like you have more energy. But if your back and neck is strained, even just sitting up straight can cause pain.

I recommend reducing the pain by reducing chronic passive lengthening of muscles in the upper back and chronic tightening of the anterior shoulder and chest muscles. These two phenomena happen easily if you’re hunched over a keyboard for hours every day.

To relieve that tension you can include some simple pulling exercises that make up a good overall resistance training program. You’ll want to sequence these so that you stretch, then strengthen, and then stretch once again.  It’s a 2:1 ratio.

Use the following two videos to help you perform a posture-enhancing exercise routine. Begin with the chest stretch in my first video, and then follow with the row in the second one. Complete the sequence by going back one more time to the chest stretch in the first video…


If you perform multiple sets, repeat the “chest stretch, row exercise, chest stretch sandwich” for best results.

Debra Atkinson

By Debra Atkinson

Debra Atkinson Is the founder of the Flipping 50 movement and host of the Flipping 50 podcast and TV show available on your iphone, ipad, and Apple TV. She is the author of four books including You Still Got It, Girl! The After 50 Fitness Formula For Women and Navigating Fitness After 50: Your GPS For Choosing Programs and Professionals You Can Trust.

Debra is a contributing blogger on the Huffington Post, ShareCare, Prime Woman, and Livingbetter50. She provides solutions for women approaching 50 or who have already turned the corner on what to eat, how to move, and the mindset for lifestyle change with hormone balance that will make the next years as the best years. Find her resources here.