Perfect Your Posture with these Three Exercises
Standing with great posture has been proven to not only make you look more confident, but makes you feel more confident too! Shoulders pulled back, head high, you’re ready to take on whatever comes at you for the day. Whether that be charming your acquaintance into a first date, finally asking for that raise, or simply looking fly while you’re strolling about on Friday night, perfecting your posture is sure to help give you some extra confidence to crush it all (not that you need it given your inherent awesomeness!).
While that all sounds ideal, there are some more meaningful reasons why your posture should be important to you. Keeping our bones and joints properly aligned decreases the risk of joint and ligament issues. It also helps to prevent backaches and prevents the spine from becoming used to improper positions that can lead to serious pains down the road. Believe it or not, having proper alignment can also help reduce fatigue; your inner structure (bones, muscles, etc.) can now work in a more efficient manner. Here are easy ways to keep your posture on point on the daily. Let’s try it out!
First things First: What Does Proper Posture Look Like?
When standing, an easy way to identify good posture is by drawing an imaginary line from your ankle to your knee, up to your hip, through your shoulder and finally hitting your earlobe at the top. When sitting in a chair, in the position that many of us spend our days, your posture should include your feet on the floor, knees at 90-degrees, hips at the back of your chair, with your back straight and tall. Naturally, moving through a variety of positions throughout the day is important to our overall health.
While the aforementioned seated position is a good starting point, we all should strive to move our bodies through their full range of motion every day. All of us can assume there’s some aspect of our posture we can improve, so the following sequence will help you feel more comfortable in these proper sitting and standing positions. These movements also feel awesome so go ahead and use them every day, or whenever you feel like you need a posture pick-me-up.
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Standing Shoulder Extension Stretch
This stretch is awesome for opening tight chests and shoulders, which are major players in poor posture problems. Start standing. Using a dowel (a broomstick works well too) or a towel, hold the object behind you, parallel to the floor and hands wide apart. Palms will be facing forward. Go ahead and lift the object as high as you can, comfortably. Hold for three seconds, then slowly come back down so the object is touching your glutes. Repeat for 5 repetitions. Now that you’re feeling open here, let’s strengthen up these muscles so they’re better able to support us throughout the day.
Half Arch Body Hold
Using the same dowel, broomstick, or towel you used for the previous stretch, lay on your stomach with your arms overhead. Grab the dowel or towel, extend your body long, and lift your arms up off the ground (keep those feet down!). Once your arms are up, continue lifting the rest of your body higher from the top down: First your arms, then chin, upper ribs, lower ribs, and stomach, in that order. Reverse the motion on your way down and really take your time to milk the movement. It might be that at first, you are only able to lift your arms and chin. No worries, keep working at it until you’re comfortable lifting more of your body. Try 5 reps to strengthen those back muscles!
Letter T Shoulder Stretch
Another great stretch to improve your posture! Lay on your stomach with your arms out to the side to make a “T” (with a right angle at your armpit) and your palms facing the floor. Keeping contact between your right shoulder and the ground, roll over onto your right side, feeling the stretch in your shoulder. If you are unable to keep contact between your shoulder and the ground, bring your hand closer to your hip until you can. Hold in this position for 30 seconds, then switch sides and repeat for another 30 seconds.
These simple movements are an easy way to work towards improving your body’s alignment, reaping all the positive benefits of great posture for your overall confidence as well as your health. Proper posture decreases your risk of joint injuries and backaches while helping your body to work in its most efficient way.
Try these three easy to execute exercises whenever you need to take a break at work, or simply just incorporate them into your daily workout routine. If you’re interested in more ways to strengthen and mobilize your spine and shoulders, check out the Thoracic Stretch Course from GymnasticBodies. Until then, let us know what other stretches you love for improving your posture!