While it’s easy to find yourself slouching, it can be a very unhealthy way to live. It’s important, for many reasons, to get your posture up to par and you can do just that with these simple exercises to improve posture.
So, What is Posture?
“Posture” is the way you hold your body—be it a standing, sitting, or lying down position. Posture can be labeled “good” and labeled “bad,” and it’s generally based on the effects that come from your body’s misalignment resulting from bad posture.
If you work at a desk for hours on end or stare at a computer screen all day, it may be extremely difficult to avoid some of the most common markers of bad posture that come from such a daily routine. By default, your head and neck will tend to tilt forward, and your shoulders and upper back will round forward as well. Your chest muscles will tend to shorten and get tighter, exacerbating the rounding effect.
The good news is, you can use these 10 simple exercises to improve posture!
Why is Bad Posture Bad?
We all know that bad posture is “bad,” but why exactly is it not good for you? As it turns out, bad posture can cause a plethora of undesirable side effects. Studies show that slouching can cause more pain than sitting upright, and folks who had bad posture and did not exercise experienced the most pain of all.
Aside from pain, bad posture has other long-reaching effects as well. These include:
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Shoulder pain
- Issues with balance
- Poor digestion
- Reduced self-esteem
- Appearing less confident
- Labored breathing
This small list is only the tip of the iceberg as poor posture can also contribute to a host of other issues such as poor flexibility and misalignment, which over time can cause numerous health-related issues.
Try These 10 Exercises to Improve Posture
1. Bridge—begin by lying on your back with your legs bent and your feet flat against the ground, hip-width apart. Place your hands by your sides, palms down, and lift your buttocks and torso off the ground while squeezing your glutes. Hold this position for 10 seconds and then return to the starting position. Repeat ten times.
2. Supermans—begin face down on the ground with your arms and legs stretched out. Your arms should be straight above your head with your hands flat on the ground. Next, lift your arms and legs simultaneously into the air by squeezing all the muscles in your back and glutes. Hold this position for 10 – 20 seconds, release, and repeat.
3. Plank—an important part of having good posture is having a strong and stable core. Doing planks is a great way to get started on a core-strengthening program (and one of the premium exercises to improve posture). Begin face down on the ground, and lift your body onto your toes and forearms. Your forearms should be about shoulder-width apart with your elbows lined up under your shoulders. Keep your body in a straight line and hold this position for 20 – 30 seconds at a time. You may work your way up to lengthier sessions as you get stronger. Place your knees on the ground to rest before returning to the full plank position.
4. Crescent Pose—while standing with your feet hip-width apart, bend forward, and bring your hands to the floor in front of you. Take a giant step back with your right leg while simultaneously bending your left knee until it is at a 90-degree angle. Next, raise your torso and arms straight upward and hold this pose for five seconds. Return to standing by bringing the right leg forward and hands back down by your sides. Repeat on the opposite side.
5. Cat and Cow—this yoga move is excellent for loosening up your core. Begin on the ground on all fours. Arch your back and lift your head upward while pushing your chest out and your stomach toward the ground. Pause and move in the opposite direction: round your back and push your stomach toward the ceiling, tucking your tailbone, and hanging your head down. Feel a good stretch through your back and shoulders before returning to the start. Repeat ten times.
6. Hip Flexor Stretch—yet another one of the great exercises to improve posture and increase flexibility. Plus, this stretch is easy to do. Begin by standing with your legs together. Take a large step forward with your right leg. Place your hands on your hips and bend your right knee until you feel a stretch through the front of your left hip. Keep your hips facing straight forward, and tuck your pelvis under for a deeper stretch in the hip flexor. Hold this position for a few moments and push through your heel back to the standing position. Repeat on the opposite side.
7. Pigeon Pose—this stretch is wonderful for opening up tight hips. Begin on the floor with your right leg bent and your foot tucked into your groin area. Your left leg should be outstretched directly behind you with the top of your foot on the floor. Feel the stretch in your hip. If you can, lean forward over your front leg to increase the intensity of the stretch. Repeat on the opposite side.
8. Neck Rotations and Stretches—begin by turning your head to the right while keeping your torso facing forward. Feel a slight stretch and hold this position for 5 – 10 seconds. Then, rotate your head to the opposite side and repeat. Next, tilt your head all the way to the right so your right ear is near your right shoulder. Feel the stretch and hold this position for 5 – 10 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
9. Spine Mobility—begin on all fours on the ground with your arms straight below your shoulders and your palms face down. Take your right hand and place it behind your head with your elbow pointing toward the ground. Slowly rotate your torso until your elbow points toward the ceiling. Feel the stretch for a moment before returning to the start and then repeat on the opposite side.
10. Corner Stretch—this excellent stretch can help you loosen tight chest muscles and can help to reduce the severity of rounded shoulders if practiced consistently over time. Begin by standing facing a corner. Leaning slightly forward, place a forearm on each corner and allow your body to ease forward, stretching the chest muscles. Hold this position for 5 seconds and return to standing. Repeat 5 times and aim for daily repetitions to drastically help improve your posture.