7 Exercises To Improve Your Bad Posture
Stop what you’re doing right now. What is your posture like at this very moment? You’re most likely reading this blog post from a phone or computer, and chances are you’re slumped forward over your device. And if you spend all day sitting at a desk, you’ve probably already developed a few bad posture habits. Factor in how often we’re hunched over our smartphones all day, your neck, shoulders, and back are likely to be in worse shape.
Beyond just looking bad, poor posture can lead to chronic neck and back pain, wrist mobility issues, decrease oxygen flow to your muscles, reduce flexibility, and increase your risk of injury. Improving your posture is a great first step to eliminating this pain and other consequences. And the best way to improve your posture is to focus on exercises that strengthen your core.
1. Single Leg Extension
This move will train your core muscles to work together to stabilize your pelvis.
Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, with your hands behind your head. Press your lower back into the floor, and curl your head up off the floor. Exhale and pull your navel in and up toward your spine. Slowly pull one knee into your chest while extending your other leg straight at about a 45-degree angle off the floor. Keep your abdominals pulled in and your lower back on the floor. Then slowly switch legs. Start with 5 to 10 extensions on each side, increasing once you get more comfortable.
2. Cobra Pose
This move is a back extension that strengthens the back muscles, including the ones that extend your spine and prevent slouching.
Lie on your stomach with your palms flat on the floor next to your ribs. Extend your legs straight behind you, with the tops of your feet pressed into the floor. While you exhale, pull your abdominal muscles in and up toward your spine. Lengthen through your spine and slowly lift your head and chest off the floor, using only your back muscles. Try not to press down on your arms to push yourself up. Keep your hip bones on the floor, with your gaze down at the floor to relax your neck muscles. Then slowly lower back down. Repeat three to five times, adding more as your lower back gets stronger.
3. Plank Pose
Plank pose strengthens your obliques as well as your shoulder and back muscles.
Start on your hands and knees with your palms directly under your shoulders. Extend both legs straight behind your, with your toes tucked under, as if you had just completed a pushup. Pull in your abdominal muscles and gaze down at the floor. Continue holding plank pose until you start feeling tired. Take a break, and then repeat. Keep your abs pulled in and up to prevent your lower back from sagging.
4. Straight Jacket Sit
This simple exercise works to help improve your posture.
Sit up straight keeping your body at a 90-degree angle with your legs fully extended in front of you and your feet flexed. Extend your spine as long as possible and cross your arms over your chest. Look straight forward with a relaxed head and neck (making sure your head isn’t tilted forward). Spend three minutes holding this position sitting as still as possible. Your lower back, shoulder blades, and neck may start to ache. Try to push through this. The more you practice, the more this position will begin to feel normal and comfortable.
5. Shoulder Blade Squeeze
This exercise also works to improve your posture by strengthening your back.
Sit up straight on a bench or box with your hands on your thighs. Press your shoulders down and keep your head and chin straight. Then slowly pull your shoulders back, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Hold this pose for a few seconds. Do 2 sets of 10-15 reps.
6. Bird Dog
The bird dog is a simple core exercise that improves stability, encourages a neutral spine, and relieves low back pain.
Start on all fours with your toes tucked under. Extend your right leg behind you. Lift your leg off the floor to about hip height. Bracing your core, slowly reach your left arm forward no higher than shoulder height. Turn your palm inward so your thumb points toward the ceiling. Hold this pose for 7-8 seconds, keeping your hips and shoulders level. Return to the all fours starting position and then repeat on the opposite side. Continue alternating sides for 6 to 10 reps on each side.
7. Cat/Cow Stretch
Cat cow pose increases the flexibility of the neck, shoulders and spine.
In the same all fours position with your wrists aligned below your shoulders and your knees below your hips. Keep your toes tucked under. On inhale, relax your belly so it moves toward the floor, gently arching your back. Tilt your tailbone and chin toward the ceiling. On exhale, gently round your spine, drawing your chin to your chest, and untuck your toes. Repeat this movement back and forth for 6 to 10 reps.