“Grape Squishers” – A Posture Hack To Save Your Spine

Feature Photo courtesy of FITTED MAGAZINE

What happened to our heads? Those ten-pound bowling balls that are supposed to be perched atop our shoulders now seem to reside somewhere reaching out over our toes. Our upper backs, over time become more and more rounded and soon it is almost impossible to maintain an upright posture even for a few minutes. So what happened?

Laptops happened, cell phones happened, poor workstations or no workstations happened, and general disregard for posture in general happened.

“Grape Squishers” – A Posture Hack To Save Your Spine

 

Remember books on tops of heads walking across a room? Remember a rapping of the knuckles if you were not sitting up straight? We have let the battle go thinking posture integrity was not important.

Well, we have created quit the problem. I would say close to 80 percent of my patients have heads that carry too far forward off their shoulders and let me tell you, this is not an aesthetic problem, although it does look pretty bad. This is a physiologic cascading nightmare.

You think I am exaggerating.

Here are the facts.

Results of an anterior head carriage posture.

 

  • Between 10-45 additional pounds of force and wear and tear on the neck and shoulders
  • Can result in neck and low back pain and chronic musculoskeletal issues
  • 30% reduction of vital lung capacity (3)
  • Accelerates degenerative joint disease
  • Reduces physical performance
  • Decreased range of motion and flexibility, resulting in early aging to the affected joints.
  • Lower quality of life due to inability to physically function in later stages of life
  • Decreased cardiovascular capacity
  • Sluggish bowel peristalsis and elimination
  • Headaches and TMJ syndrome
  • Cognitive impacts and immune dysfunction (4)

 

[Tweet “Don’t let your head arrive in the room before you do.”]

 

Anterior head posture is much worse than just making you look shorter and more debilitated. So what do we do about it? What we understand is that where the head is, the body will follow, so we must get the head back over the shoulders with some simple exercises that fire the tiny postural muscles of the spine.

The problem is that we are combating years of poor posture and bad habits and so to undo them we must remain consistent in our application of posture rehabilitative movements. Also, plan on 1-3 months of diligent attention to these exercises before you note the positive changes. And finally, remember that these exercises are as much for correction as they for prevention so keep doing them even if you are not noting huge improvement. You are making a great investment in your future spine if you keep a steady practice of postural work.

One of the most simple and easily applicable moves for regaining proper head carriage is an exercise I named “The Grape Squisher.” This exercise, if performed a few times a day, can start to wake up those elongated weak muscles that allow your head to hang out over the cliff of your collarbones. I recommend these be performed against a wall but you can do them equally well in your car, sitting in a high-back desk chair or even lying down. The trick is to actually do them and often.

GRAPE SQUISHERS

  • Find a place sitting or standing where you can push your head back against a surface. A wall is an easy choice but a high-backed desk chair or a car with a high headrest will do as well.
  • Sit with good posture and keep your shoulders back.
  • Slowly **translate** your head back against the wall or head rest until it touches.
  • Gently push against the wall or the headrest with ONLY ENOUGH FORCE TO SQUISH A GRAPE. (Grape Squishers….get it? )
  • Hold for a slow count of ten.
  • Release and count to ten
  • Repeat the exercise ten times.
  • Try to perform this exercise, in various positions at least three to four times a day.

**TRANSLATE** I will admit most people do this exercise wrong. Instead of “translating” their head, they “tilt” back elevating their chin to get their head to touch the wall. Here is how you know if you are doing it right. Pretend you have a grapefruit under your chin. (I love fruit analogies.) As you translate your head back toward the wall, keep the chin slightly tucked, as if holding the grapefruit. Your chin should not deviate from neutral.

Remember: You can modify this exercise for a desk chair or your car or even lying down. I love doing Grape Squishers at traffic lights! Using a red light as a trigger helps me remember to do them frequently through out the day.

If you would like a verbal explanation of this post watch this VIDEO

 

 

This week work toward performing ten Grape Squishers, four times a day. Be careful. Although the exercise does not seem like much it is challenging to the little postural muscles of your spine. Let me know how you do and let’s get those heads back over your spine!

 

2 Responses

  1. People don’t realize how important this is!!! They may be dealing with Ankylosing Spondylitis and being misdiagnosed! I was! I was misdiagnosed for 30 years. May have been longer if I’d not spent years online searching my symptoms once my neck started fusing up more and more, but it was too late and my crappy posture was set in stone, or should I say bone! I was 40+ years old and life had drastically changed forever and I could not change my crappy posture even for a car ride! Listen people, listen!!

    1. This is so good! Yes, remembering to consistently address our postural failings that occur as we age is essential and even more so if there are any arthritic issues going on. I understand Ank Spon well. I am sorry about your suffering from it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About Dr. Denniston

Dr. Denniston is a wellness strategist for elite leaders and their teams, bridging the connection between personal well-being and professional success. She provides custom solutions for burnout and stress and facilitates cohesive habit-training strategies that maximize vitality, productivity, and resilience.

Want to look and feel your healthiest?

THE THREE DAY RESET is a whole food, organic eating plan geared to charge your metabolism, give you tons of energy, and provide all the nutrients and vitamins you need.

Ready to work together?

WELLFITandFED’s primary programming includes programs, keynotes, workshops, events and customized consulting. The foundations of these offerings are rooted in 25 years of experience working with companies from small start-ups to global giants like Microsoft.

Popular topics.

Like that? You'll love these.

"BRAVING"- The Anatomy Of Trust In The Wilderness

“BRAVING”- The Anatomy Of Trust In The Wilderness

In her book “Braving The Wilderness,” Brene Brown uses the word “BRAVING” as an acronym for defining and developing trust-filled relationships with everyone from kids to coworkers. Now, who doesn’t have trust issues and who doesn’t love a good acronym? ...
Read More →

Conquering Your Inner Bully

During the height of my grief, after my mother died, I met a woman with whom I became inseparable. We went everywhere together; finished each other’s sentences, and were joined at the hip. I was rarely without her. We were ...
Read More →
Want Inspiration? Head To The Bottom Of The Pool

Want Inspiration? Head To The Bottom Of The Pool.

It is a hot summer day in August. You are at the local public pool with your kids. It is noon. You are positioned in the middle, treading water.
Read More →
What if grown-up recess was mandatory?

What If Grown-Up Recess Was Mandatory?

Yesterday, my personal “Grumpo-Meter” measured at a ten. I woke up not having slept well, and I was in a funk. I felt all “hormoney” and ready to masticate the head off anyone who got in my way. My dad ...
Read More →

Brene Brown Is In My Brain Trust

Brene Brown is in my brain trust but let’s go back. I have a panel of advisors that get me through the day. Folks I can count on to advise and gently turn my shoulders when directional assistance is needed. ...
Read More →
Goal Progress - You Have To Squat Before You Leap - WELLFITandFED

Goal Progress – You Have To Squat Before You Leap

Stand. Just, stand. Now, jump. You can’t can you? To jump you must bend your knees, and in bending your knees, you are dipping down lower than your starting position. The only way to jump up in the air, or ...
Read More →