While some debate about the effectiveness of posture exercises, there's no doubt that many of us can benefit from improving our posture. Long days spent sitting at desks in front of computers or slouched in uncomfortable chairs have an effect on our bodies. Too often, these poor habits lead to slouching, which can eventually lead to back pain. Practicing exercises to make your posture better is one way to not only become aware of how you stand and sit, but to prevent back pain down the line.
Activities that Benefit Posture
There is a reason that dancers have such good posture - they work on it every time they practice their craft. Yoga and Pilates devotees are also known for their impressive stance. If you take part in yoga or Pilates on a regular basis, you may already have enviable posture. Some of the posture exercises highlighted here are closely related to yoga or Pilates poses.
You'll find a lot of stretching among posture exercises. Stretching helps keep your joints fluid, something you might need to work on as you get older. You can utilize your body's full range of motion as you age instead of feeling joint pain and stiffness.
One benefit you'll see immediately upon improving how you stand and sit is that you appear taller. You might even feel more graceful as you go about your daily activities. People with poor posture can develop a stooped appearance as they age - it's worth engaging in preventive posture exercises as soon as possible as this doesn't have to happen to you.
Posture Exercises to Try
You can incorporate any of these moves into your fitness routine. At the very least, you'll become aware of your posture as you do them. For the posture exercises you perform while in a chair, you might be able to do these throughout the workday, whenever you have an extra few minutes.
Unless otherwise noted, perform the posture exercises in sets of two or three, with five to ten reps in each set.
- Sit in a comfortable chair with your feet flat on the floor.
- Face straight ahead and relax your shoulders.
- Gently drop your chin toward your neck, feeling the stretch in the back of your neck.
- Raise your head and repeat.
- Sit in a chair, hands on your thighs, facing straight ahead.
- Only moving your shoulders, squeeze your shoulder blades together behind you.
- Relax and repeat.
- Sit in a chair, hands resting on your thighs.
- Inhale, relaxing your abdomen.
- Exhale to a count of five, pulling your stomach in as you count.
- This exercise demonstrates how important your abdomen and core are to posture - it involves more than just your back.
- Lie on your stomach with a small pillow beneath it and a rolled towel beneath your forehead.
- With elbows bent at 90-degree angles, bring your arms out to your sides.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together behind you, feeling your arms lift a few inches as you do.
- Hold for three to five seconds.
- Lie on your side with your arm resting against your body.
- Raise your arm toward the ceiling while also bringing it back, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
- Repeat on other side.
- Stand with your back against a wall.
- Your feet should be about a foot or two in front of your body.
- Slide down the wall. Don't let your knees go past your toes (you may have to move your feet).
- Hold for 20-30 seconds.
Good Posture Benefits
Maintaining proper posture will help your overall appearance. Just by standing and sitting straighter, your stomach will naturally be held in instead of bulging out. It may take some practice to keep your abdominals tight, but with time and frequent posture exercises, it will become second nature to stand tall and sit up straight in a chair. There was a good reason for your mom to tell you to "stand up straight!" and not slouch, after all.