Exercises to Improve Your Posture
Standing up straight and not slumping your shoulders will keep you fitter in the long run. Otherwise, even though you don’t feel it right away, poor posture is taking a huge toll on your spine, shoulders, hips, and even knees. You are guaranteed to feel the effects of that later in life. They come in the form of chronic back pain, fatigue, stiffness, and headaches.
Good posture means your bones are aligned the way they are supposed to and your muscles, joints and ligaments can work without pain. More than 80 percent of Americans complain of back problems. They emerge because of tight, achy muscles directly caused by years of bad posture.
First thing’s first: Check your posture. One way to do it is with by wall sitting. As your buttocks are touching the wall, distance between your lower back and the wall should be between one and two inches. The distance between your neck and the wall should be two inches.
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.
Planks, an extremely effective isometric exercise, are great because they use your own bodyweight to maintain the stability of your entire core, which is exactly what the core muscles are supposed to do, and prevent back pain.
Back extensions, or the Cobra Pose, are good for you because they strengthen the back muscles that extend your spine and prevent slouching, according to WebMD.
Lie on your stomach with your hands under your shoulders. Bring your legs together and press the tops of your feet into the ground. Inhale and lift your chest up. Gaze straight ahead to keep your neck long. Pull your shoulders away from your ears. Keep your elbows close into your ribcage. Hold for 6-8 breaths.
Studies have shown that yoga helps improve bad posture and even reverse hyperkyphosis, the age-related posture issue also known as dowager's hump. A popular pose is the Cat Cow Pose (Marjaryasana), which is also very helpful in relieving back pain.
Start on your hands and knees and assume the cat pose. Create a C shape with your spine, bringing the heart center toward the tailbone and rounding your middle back toward the sky. Moving into cow, create a C shape with your spine but in the other direction. Pull the heart center away from the tailbone, lifting in the crown of your head to the sky. Stack shoulders over wrists, hips over knees. Hold the pose for 5 breaths in each direction.
Swimming will definitely strengthen the back and core muscles, which would help to improve posture, because, as a whole body sport, many muscles are involved. It is also non-weight bearing. Particularly among seniors, swimming is a good choice for exercise with arthritic joints because it takes gravity out of the equation.
Swimming, however, is not a good idea if you don’t do well when rotating the spine.
Single-leg hip extension
This exercise works the glutes and hamstrings, but both are crucial 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.