Many people struggle with maintaining good posture. Did you know that there are actually specific exercises you can do to help you stand up straight? In addition to looking healthier, having good posture also helps you tire less easily and makes you less likely to sustain a strain or injury. These simple exercises to improve posture are also a great way to help increase your back and core strength.
Lying Scapular Exercise
This exercise helps to strengthen the muscles around your scapulas, otherwise known as the shoulder blades. These muscles are critical to maintaining good posture, particularly for those who tend to slouch their shoulder or crane their neck.
- Lie on your stomach over a pillow. Place a rolled towel under your forehead to keep your neck from straining.
- Reach your arms out to each side. Bend each arm at the elbow so that you arm is in a 90-degree angle pointing ahead of you.
- Slowly lift your arms up by squeezing the shoulder blades together. Hold for 3-5 seconds.
- Allow your arms to return to their starting position, then lift them again and hold.
- Complete in sets of 5-10 for at least 3 sets.
Side-Lying Arm Raises
In addition to the upper back, you should also exercise your shoulders in order to maintain good posture. This exercise reinforces the correct posture while giving your shoulders a good workout.
- Lie on your left side with your right arm resting along the right side of your body.
- Slowly raise your right arm until your hand is pointing straight up towards the ceiling. As you do so, concentrate on your right shoulder blade moving back towards the other shoulder blade.
- Slowly lower your arm back down to your side.
- Repeat 5-10 times for at least 3 sets.
The abdominal muscles also play an important role in improving your posture. They help stabilize your body and provide added strength when your back muscles are tired. In addition, having strong abdominal muscles can protect the discs and nerves in your spine. Planks are one of the best exercises for toning your abs.
- Lie face down on the floor. Place your hands next to your shoulders as though you were going to do pushups.
- Keeping your feet together and your body in a straight line, lift yourself up so that your arms are straightened out. Pay close attention to your buttocks, which you may be tempted to lift or sag during this exercise.
- Keep your abdominal muscles tight and hold the plank for up to a minute.
- Give yourself at least 5-10 seconds of rest, then repeat as many times as you like.
Doing wall sits has a lot of great results. In addition to improving your posture by strengthening your abs, it also improves your leg strength and balance.
- Stand up straight with your back against a wall.
- Keeping your back and buttocks against the wall, bring your feet out in front of you about 12 inches. Your feet should be about shoulder width apart.
- Slide down the wall until your knees are at about a 60-degree angle. Keep your abdominal muscles flexed to stabilize your body.
- After holding for a few seconds, slowly raise yourself back up until your legs are almost straight.
- Do sets of 10 for at least 3 sets.
One issue with poor posture may be the way you tilt your pelvis when you stand. To counteract this problem, try this simple exercise.
- Stand up straight. Make sure your posture is correct with your shoulders back and head held high.
- Allow your buttocks to sag back slightly by relaxing your hips.
- Place your thumbs on your lower ribs and your fingers on your hip bones on each side of your torso. These will help guide your body during the exercise.
- Pay attention to where your thumbs and fingers are in relation to one another. Then tuck your buttocks under until your hip bones are aligned directly under your lower ribs.
- Hold this position for 5 seconds, then relax your hips again. Repeat as many times as you like.
It may seem silly, but doing this funny move with your chin can actually help avoid craning your neck and slouching your upper body. However, this exercise is very easy to do during other activities, such as using the computer or watching TV.
- Make sure your upper and lower teeth are together and keep your shoulders relaxed.
- Slowly move your head straight back (don’t tilt in any direction) until there is mild tension. You should only have to move your head back about ¼ to 1 inch.
- Hold for 5-10 seconds, then allow your head to return to the starting position. Repeat at few more times.
Poor posture reflects more on your health than you might think. One study found that poor posture is associated with several serious health conditions, including depression, falls and breathing problems. Commit some time each week to working on your posture and you may well find that you feel better overall.