Whenever I hear the word “posture,” my immediate reaction is to sit up straight (and chances are, you’re currently doing it too). Being hunched over is one of those unconscious things you don’t realize you’re doing until someone calls attention to it. Generally speaking, it feels unnatural and uncomfortable to practice ‘good posture’ if your body is not used to being propped up in the correct position. Luckily, we found some exercises that may help to improve your posture and maintain a healthy spine.
Single leg extension
Focusing on building your core muscles (the abdominal and low back muscles that connect to your spine and pelvis) are the best way to improve your posture. This exercise is perfect for training your core muscles to work together to stabilize your pelvis. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Clasp your hands behind your head and lift your head up off the floor as if you were doing a crunch. Slowly pull one knee into your chest while keeping the other leg slightly (about 45 degrees off the floor) lifted yet straight. Keep your abdominals engaged and your low back on the floor. Switch legs.
Seated T-spine openers
(Demo can be viewed here). Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor and your back straight. Clasp your hands behind your neck so that your elbows are close to each other. Use your upper back muscles to lift your chest and elbows toward the ceiling as if you were doing a slight backbend while keeping your lower back straight. Repeat as many times as feels comfortable.
Reverse shoulder shrugs
This exercise is performed just as the name implies, and is ideal for those who work at a desk all day and experience neck and shoulder stiffness. You can either stand or sit upright, keeping your head in a neutral position. Lift both shoulders toward your ears and then roll your shoulders back down. Aim for 20 reps two to three times a day daily if you have a job that requires you to be at a computer for long hours.
King cobra stretch
Lie down on your stomach with your palms face down on your mat, just outside your shoulders. Keep one leg turned in and extend the other leg back behind you. Push yourself off the floor until your arms are straight, keeping your shoulder blades down and back. While keeping your elbows close to your sides, slightly twist your body and look back toward your bent leg. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat with the opposite leg.
Lie on your back with your legs extended, feet flexed and arms overhead on the floor. Exhale deeply, drawing your navel up toward your spine. Slowly roll yourself up off the floor, starting with your arms, then your head and shoulders until you are finally sitting upright with your abdominals still engaged. Slowly roll back down again. Repeat three to five times and build this amount as your core becomes stronger.
As with any exercise, listen to your body and be sure to consult a medical professional if anything doesn’t feel right.