• Chest stretch: Step into a corner with your elbows up at a
90-degree angles and gently press your body through toward
the corner to feel a mild stretch.
IN THE GYM
• Isolate the upper back muscles by performing seated rowing, elbows at shoulder height.
• Focus on keeping your shoulder blades pulled together
during chest press, pushups, and rowing exercises.
• Realize fatigue may mean that your shoulders elevate
rather than your not being able to complete another repetition. Focus on using the correct muscles.
• Avoid overdoing chest work. Balance what you do the
other 23 hours of the day outside the gym.
Resistance training, from traditional weight training to Pilates
work, can do wonders for improving postural problems.
When you strength train, perform an even number of pushing
to pulling exercises. If you have severely rounded shoulders,
you may want to begin with two pulling exercises for every
pushing exercise; for example, seated row, lat pulldown and a
chest press. Another tip is to use a palm up or supinated grip
when appropriate to help open up the front of the shoulder.
Strengthening shoulders is tricky. Lateral raises with
dumbbells, for instance, target shoulder muscles. If you must
do your dumbbell lateral raises, however, rethink them.
Rounded shoulder syndrome means you have faulty movement patterns. If you perform the exercise with poor form,
you’ll only worsen the problem. Instead, use a cable or a
band attached at waist height and pull outward with the
arm farthest from the wall. By changing the direction of the
load, you will truly strengthen the shoulder without firing
the upper back muscles. (Hint: If you look or feel as if your
shoulders are in your ears, remove and do not repeat.)
Because you are working on a project that might have
taken you some 30 to 50 years to develop in the first place,
postural muscles need consistent reminders. The good
news is that they aren’t difficult or time consuming. Set
your phone, your computer or watch alarm to remind you
to do a few minutes of exercise at the office or at home.
These do-anywhere exercises serve to rewire your
muscles into their new role. When you are in the gym, at
home or on the road, keep your goals in mind. Muscling
through another set incorrectly has far less value than
reducing the weight to do things correctly. Some lazy muscles won’t come out to play if the heavy hitters are willing
to do all the work.
A balanced approach to fitness with some posture specific goals can get you a speaker-buff body that carries
more impact than any creative prop you might bring on
stage. The shape, weight and size of the parts are ultimately up to you, but postural changes will change the way
you live, work and play no matter what else you modify.
Combine posture-enhancing exercises with the right
dose and type of pre-speech exercise and you will find
people talking about you as if you are ballet in action.
Your physical presence will enhance the message you have
to share. As your body confidence increases, you will have
a more powerful presence and ultimately a more powerful
influence on your audience.
Debra Atkinson, the Voice of Fitness, has been
a fitness professional for over 20 years. An
author, speaker, university lecturer and director
of personal training, fitness is at the heart of
everything she does—pun intended. Contact Debra
at email@example.com or visit www.voiceforfitness.com.
Stretching tight neck
and shoulder muscles
can help improve