Do you slouch?
In our modern world filled with computers, smartphones, tablets, and sit down jobs, most of us are guilty as charged. Bad posture is an epidemic. But why is this a problem?
Of course, a nice posture looks better and more confident. However, it’s more than that. Improving your posture and fixing those slouched shoulders is a non-negotiable for your health.
Poor posture can develop from:
- Improper sleeping positions
- Low self-confidence
- Tight muscles
- Weak muscles
- Being overweight
The longer you are living your life with poor posture, the harder it can be to change, and the higher your chances are to develop health problems, including chronic back pain and shoulder pain.
Slouching and bad posture can lead to:
- Back pain
- Injuries, especially of the back, hips, foot, and knee
- Muscle atrophy and weakness
- Nerve compression
- Muscle strain
- Digestion issues
- Difficulty breathing
- Poor circulation
- Joint pain and discomfort
10 Exercises to Improve Your Posture
Improving your posture takes time and effort, especially if you’ve been practicing bad posture for decades. Changing your posture may even hurt at first. Remember, you are activating muscles you haven’t used in a while. It takes patience, but your muscle will get stronger and soon enough you will be standing tall confidently and notice improved health as a result.
The following exercises and stretches can help you greatly with your posture.
The bow pose can help to correct bad posture by the muscles at the front of your shoulder and preventing slouching.
- Lying on your stomach, bend your knees and bring them to your hips or as close as possible.
- Grab your feet with your hands.
- Lift your chest, knees and head off the mat.
- Breath in and kick your legs letting your arms go naturally with them.
- Breath out and get back to the original pose.
- Repeat 5 times.
Back extensions can help strengthen your back muscles, protect your spine, eliminate round back, and improve posture.
- Lie on the floor on your stomach with forehead on the ground.
- Arms on your sides, press your palms on your thighs.
- Straighten your elbows. Squeeze your legs together with toes outwards.
- Exhale, then lift your head, chest, and upper abdomen, then lower while inhaling.
- Do 10 reps.
Upright Snow Angels
Wall angels can benefit the thoracic spine helping to improve slouching and a hunchback.
- Keep your knees slightly bent as you press your lower and upper back and head against the wall.
- Press the back of your arms against the wall keeping your fingers pushed against it.
- Move your arms above your head slowly while your body is pushing against the wall. It should look like a standing snow angel.
- Repeat 10 times.
Pectoral Doorway Stretch
A doorway stretch can help to counteract a sunken chest from slouching.
- Stand inside the doorway with your right arm at 90 degrees and your forearm against the doorframe.
- Your bent elbow should be at shoulder height. You can grab the door frame too.
- Rotate your chest to the left for a good stretch. You should feel it in your chest and front shoulder.
- Hold for 30 seconds then repeat with the left arm.
Planks are great for a strong core and a good posture.
- Get into a press-up position. Rest your body weight on your forearms while your elbows bend on the ground. Keep your body in a straight line. Engage your core. Suck your belly button in.
- Hold for 60 seconds or longer. Keep increasing the time.
A thoracic extension is great to prevent neck, shoulder, back, and hip pain, and create a good posture.
- Lay with your back on a foam roller with the foam roller perpendicular to your spine and going across your shoulders.
- Lift your glutes up.
- Using your heels, move back and forth.
- Keep rolling until you feel discomfort. Once hitting discomfort, hold on that spot for 20-30 seconds then keep rolling.
Pectoral Ball Smash
Doing a pectoral ball smash can loosen up tight muscles in your front chest through trigger point release, and improve slouching as a result.
- Place a tennis, lacrosse, or similar ball between your chest near your shoulder and your wall.
- Roll the ball around until your fight a tight spot with discomfort. Hold there for 10 to 20 seconds to release the knot and smooth the fascia.
- Roll the ball again until you find other spots. Repeat this for each spot on both sides.
Broom Shoulder Stretch
Broom shoulder stretches are a great stretch to loosen up your tight shoulders.
- Hold a band, broomstick, or pipe in front of you with an overhand wide grip.
- Slowly lift it over your head and all the way around and back until you hit your buttocks.
- Do 10 reps slowly.
The cat/cow pose is particularly great for back pain and can help to improve slouching.
- Go on your hands and knees, palms under your shoulders, and knees below your hips.
- Breath in, pull your belly in and stretch your back like a cat with the tailbone and head dropping and back curving.
- Move back to the initial position the extend your head and tailbone up without your abs getting lazy.
- Repeat the cycle 5 times.
The cobra stretch can open your chest, ribs, and lungs, improve breathing, your spine, and posture.
- Lay down placing your hands on the floor palms facing down under your shoulders.
- Inhale as you lift up your ribs off the floor, heart forward, shoulders back without crunching your neck.
- Hold for 30 seconds then release.
These exercises can reduce slouching, strengthen your muscles, and improve your posture over time. Ideally, you want to do them daily, however, under less than ideal circumstances, aim for 4 times a week. Remember, consistency is the key.
Other Tips To Improve Posture & Reduce Back Issues
However, getting a good posture is more than just a few exercises. You must practice good posture, remind yourself to correct your posture and visualize good posture at all times.
- Visualize yourself standing tall.
- Remind yourself not to slouch.
- Imagine that a string is pulling you towards the ceiling from the top of your head when standing or sitting.
- Hold your abs tight.
- Make sure your monitor is at the level of your face when using the computer.
- Try a standing desk.
- Use ergonomic office furniture or sit on an exercise ball.
- Get up to walk around and stretch through the day.
- Put up sticky notes and use cell phone reminders to remind you to correct your posture.
- Don’t forget about your sleep either.
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach.
- Use proper pillows and comfortable mattresses.
Be patient and consistent. Your hard work will pay off. Soon enough you will be standing tall and notice aches and pains disappearing as well.