As I am writing this post, I just did it again, caught myself slouching in my chair at work. If you deal with bad posture, whether it’s sitting in your chair at work, or just in general, please keep reading. There’s no doubt that doing the right exercises help posture. I will walk you through some of the exercises I do to help with my posture.
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I have been a long time sloucher, my shoulders rounded and I didn’t even notice it. This all really came to light with visits to my chiropractor, as a result of my back injury in 2015. My chiropractor, who has been working with me to get me straightened out (pun intended), reminds me how important good posture is to back health. I didn’t realize that my shoulders were rounding as I go about my everyday life. Now, this is something I have become very conscious of. Chest out, shoulders back, chin up, draw my belly button into my spine, so many things to remember! Here are some of my favorite exercises to help promote good posture.
First of all, you will lay face down on your stomach. You will put your palms face down on the floor at your side, about chest height. With this pose, I am still working on progressing, so I slowly work my way to my elbows by arching my back. Some people are able to push off the floor using their arms in order to extend the stretch. I am not quite there yet, so I arch my back and stay on my elbows. Cobra pose stretches muscles in the shoulders, chest, and abdominals. Hold this for 20-30 seconds. You can do this three to five times.
Very similar to Cobra Pose, start face down on the floor. You will have your arms and legs fully extended. The move is to raise your chest and legs off the floor. You can hold for as long as you can, maybe up to 20 seconds. This can be a tough one to hold. Repeat again three to five times. This is a great exercise for upper and lower back as well as glutes, hamstrings and even inner thighs.
Back extensions with an exercise ball
You can also do this with an exercise ball. Same concept as before. You will lay face down on the ball at about your midsection and lift your chest off the ball. You can also incorporate weights with this and do a reverse dumbbell fly for added intensity to the mid and upper back.
Chair pose is actually harder than it looks and it works a lot of different muscles. It’s fairly self-explanatory. Start by standing up straight, legs shoulder-width apart. Put your arms overhead, with palms facing each other shoulder width apart and look up between your hands. Bend your knees and literally act like you are sitting in a chair. Keep your back straight. You will bend slightly at the waist. You don’t want to bend over too much that will defeat the purpose. You can really squeeze your shoulder blades together and get some great upper body work in. Chair pose will work shoulders, upper back, quadriceps, glutes, and lower back.
This is one of my favorites. Start on all fours. The move is to alternate extending opposite arms and legs. So you will look straight ahead, and reach out your right hand straight, keeping your arms level with the floor. You will do the same thing with your opposite leg (left leg in this case), pointing your toe away from your body. Hold for a few seconds and then repeat on the other side. You can do this ten times. This is great for your core.
There are a lot of variations to this very broad exercise. What I do, is use an exercise band. If I am at the gym, I wrap the band around a piece of equipment. If I am at home, I wrap the band around one of the posts on my back patio. The premise behind this exercise is to work the upper, upper back. So I wrap the exercise band around a stationary object, grab a handle with each hand, and pull toward my body. Now the angle at which I pull varies, I will target anywhere between my chest to my eyeballs. When you do this exercise, make sure you are keeping your abs and butt tight and keep your back straight. Sometimes I will do this exercise seated on an exercise ball. This adds a dimension of complexity.
Band pull apart
Another great exercise to help with posture is a band pull apart. Sounds simple enough right? I use an exercise band, and arms are out straight, about shoulder width apart, maybe a little further, wrists locked, palms face down. Grip the band with each hand. Make sure you leave some slack, as you will be pulling each arm away from the center of your body. Then, pull the band apart, not literally, but that is the best way to describe the exercise. You can also do palms up and do the same motion. Again, this targets the upper back, which is key to good posture. I typically do 5 sets of 15 to 20 reps. As a variation, when you have palms face down, you can rotate your wrists on the pullback so that when your arms are extended to the side, your palms end up face up.
One final thing I do, when I find myself slouching forward at my desk at work or at home. I squeeze my shoulder blades back, push my chest out and arch my lower back, so I am basically doing the opposite of slouching. Chest out, head up arch mid-lower back.
I would definitely recommend implementing these exercises as part of either your regular workout routine or do them several days per week. It is a great habit to get into and it will help improve your posture. See this post for additional exercises to help posture.
If you have any questions or comments, please let me know below.