Perfect posture sounds good, but why is it so important?
In an age where so many of us live sedentary lifestyles, our bone, muscle and joint health is already at risk and poor posture only makes the situation worse. Whether sitting or standing, bad posture takes a toll on your spine, shoulders, hips and other parts of the body and that can eventually lead to joint pain, muscular issues and weakened bones.
On top of being flat out bad for our bodies, poor posture also affects our strength and power when it comes to exercise. Avoid these and other issues by maintaining good posture. These five exercises can help by strengthening key muscles, while stretching and aligning your body.
Stability Ball Row
Targeting the shoulders and upper back, the stability ball row is a great exercise for helping perfect your posture. Find a pair of free weights that are a comfortable, but challenging weight and with feet spread apart, lean on the stability ball. Your hips should be leaning on the ball, you should be on your toes and you should start with your palms facing each other. With a slight bend in your elbow, pull the arms to their respective sides and slightly back. Return to starting position slowly.
Planks primarily strengthen the abs, back and shoulders, all of which are crucial for proper posture and overall strength. Start in a high plank and come down to your forearms, keep your body inline and take deep breaths.
How to do a plank: complete guide to the perfect plank.
Great for your back, butt and legs, the Locust pose also brings big posture benefits. Start laying on your stomach, relaxed with your arms at your side. Simultaneously lift your legs and shoulders off the ground, engaging your entire backside, while keeping your neck in a neutral position. Breathe slow and deep and then relax back down to the floor.
Single-Leg Hip Extension
This move primarily strengthens your glutes and hamstrings, both important muscle groups for maintaining proper posture. Start on your back with your arms out to your sides for stability, in a bridge. Bend your left leg and plant your left foot firmly on the ground then raise your lower body and right leg out in a straight line off the floor. With toes pointed back toward you, raise your hips and right leg higher, maintaining a straight line with your body. Your head should remain on the floor but your body should be at a 45 degree angle off the floor. Hold and then lower your right leg down without letting it touch the floor.
Cat Cow Pose
This dynamic yoga pose warms up and strengthens the back and neck, while also improving posture. Start in a table top position, with your hands under shoulders and knees hip width distance apart. Moving into cat/cow, Inhale for cow—lift the gaze, dip the belly. On the exhale curl and round like a cat, tucking your chin into your chest. Inhale for cow, exhale cat. Continue to move through cat/cow and keep breathing, finding any other natural movements to stretch further.
All of the above photos are courtesy of Shutterstock.