5 Exercises That Can Help Improve Your Posture
“No slouching, stand up straight, stick your chest out, pull your shoulders back”… you’ve undoubtedly heard it all, and it all relates to your posture. But why is posture such a big deal? It’s because strength, balance, and flexibility all stem from good posture, and proper posture is the foundation of a great mind and body connection. But are there posture exercises you can perform to help improve a less than ideal stance? We will reveal all below.
What is Posture?
It may be helpful to review posture in general and define what it means as it relates to your body. Posture is the way you carry yourself: the way you sit, stand, and walk and the way you move your body. Posture carries over into most of what you do, from sitting and resting to standing, walking, and running.
Good posture means you keep your body aligned, your head upright, and your shoulders back. You look and feel alert and in control of your movements. So, your parents weren’t all wrong when they hassled you about your posture. It turns out, it’s pretty important when it comes to good health and building a strong, limber body.
Core and Balance—How Do They Relate to Posture?
Why is good posture even significant? Well, think of posture as your “foundation,” and it will be easier to understand its importance, especially if you’re trying to build muscle and strength. Think of your physique as a house. If you build it on sand or shifty ground, it’s not going to be a strong structure because it doesn’t have a strong base. Walls will be misaligned, which will cause other weaknesses throughout the structure. So, it is with posture. Good posture is the base upon which you build everything else. You need to have a strong core and a balanced body if you want to build a powerful, flexible, and functional body.
How do you get there? Posture exercises begin with a strong core…and a strong core starts with back and abdominal work and is the basis of most movement and stability. It can help you in a functional way too, assisting you as you brace your body in order to twist and bend. Incorporating some basic movements into your workout routine on the regular can help you improve your posture over time.
How Can You Benefit from Improved Posture?
- Look slimmer—just standing up straight will automatically make you look leaner and taller. Take advantage of your full height by standing up straight.
- Encounter less injuries—imagine building a structure on a crooked foundation. That’s what you’re doing if you train while engaging in bad posture. Make sure you’re giving yourself a strong and balanced foundation for lifting before hitting the weights hard. When everything is moving in the proper alignment, you’ll be able to build a solid and strong physique without weaknesses.
- Avoid injuries—and, when you train to avoid weakness and imbalances, you are also helping yourself avoid injuries, too. Injuries tend to occur from overuse or improper alignment, causing one area of your body to take on more stress than the others. Getting your posture right can help you circumvent this type of situation.
Just Be Aware of Your Posture
Make sure to monitor how you’re sitting throughout the day. Do a self-check-in every 30 minutes or so and straighten your back and pull your shoulders back. If you tend to hunch your shoulders due to stress, also be cognizant of your shoulder placement and consciously make an effort to keep them down.
Every once in a while, take a look at how you’re standing in the mirror, too. It’s easy to slouch, and taking a minute to physically stand up straighter and lift your head will be worth it. Also try to balance yourself equally on both feet when standing to distribute your weight evenly.
Try These 5 Simple Posture Exercises
1. Abdominal Crunches
Yes, you need to have strong abs to support good posture, crunches are a great start. Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent slightly and your hands clasped loosely behind your neck. Next, fixate on a spot on the ceiling above you and lift your entire upper body toward that spot. This will help you “crunch” with an upward, not forward, movement. Hold this crunch position for a count of three and then relax and return to the start. Repeat in sets of ten repetitions.
2. Good Mornings
When working your abs, remember that it’s also just as important to work your lower back as well. You want equal strength all around the sheath that supports the middle of your body. To work your lower back, grab a light bar or barbell and place it behind your neck and across your shoulders. With your feet about hip-width apart and keeping your legs straight, bend forward (with a straight back) at the waist until your upper body is parallel with the floor. Hold this position for a count of three and then straighten back up to full standing position. Repeat ten times.
3. Rear Shoulders and Back
It’s important to keep your shoulders down and back. How do you accomplish this? You work the rear portion of your deltoids (shoulders) along with the muscles in your back so you can naturally pull your shoulders back and down without added effort. Any back exercise will help but dumbbell rows will specifically work both your rear delts and your lats (upper and side back) muscles.
Start with a dumbbell in your right hand and place your left knee and palm on a bench, bending at the waist. Allow your right arm to straighten fully before beginning the movement. Next, pull your right elbow up and back along your body, squeezing the muscles in your back. Once fully contracted, hold the position for a moment before returning the weight to the start. Repeat ten times on the right side and then switch sides to repeat on the left side.
4. Hanging Hamstring Stretch
And don’t forget how vital it is to stretch. Having tight muscles can pull other areas of your body out of place. Believe it or not, one of the main areas that tends to inhibit proper posture is tight hamstrings. Loosening these muscles can really help you straighten up more easily.
Begin by standing with your feet a bit wider than hip-width apart. Cross your arms in front of you and, bending forward at the waist, allow your upper body to hang down. Take a few big breaths and relax into the stretch.
5. Chest Openers
These are super simple to do and also extremely effective. Stand in a doorway or next to a wall and place your open palms on the sides of the doorway or wall, arms straight out to your sides. Gently allow your chest to open as you lean forward into this stretch, feeling your chest and shoulders release. Hold this stretch for a count of ten. Repeat three times. You can stretch one arm at a time or both, depending on what you prefer.
Remember, doing posture exercises is great and it’s definitely helpful to build strength that helps you maintain good posture. But, being aware of how you’re sitting and standing throughout the day is the other side of the coin. Whenever you think of it, simply straighten up. It’s easy to get slouched over at your desk or on the couch with your back rounded or your neck bent at strange angles.