7 Exercises for Good Posture

We hear all the time about how important it is to maintain good posture. The fact of the matter is that proper posture can help prevent pain by ensuring your body is under the least amount of stress possible. It also ensures you’re able to breath sufficiently by maintaining adequate space in the chest cavity.

Yet, how exactly can you work on your posture? Are there exercises you can do to make improvements and become more conscious of how you old yourself? 

The Corydon Physiotherapy team is here to help. Below, we offer up seven exercises to help you get your posture back on track.

How Do I Train to Improve My Posture?

The key is consistency. At the same time, you want to be doing the right exercises to make a difference. By performing the following seven exercises every second day, you can make substantial improvements when it comes to your posture. So, let’s get straight to it!

1. Cat & Cow

This yoga exercise can help relieve tension in the back and improve range of motion, alleviating tightness. As a result, you may experience improved posture due to reduced tightness and improved mobility.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Begin on all fours with a neutral back. This means if you were to place a flat object running from your head to your tailbone, it wouldn’t fall off. If you’re unsure if you’re in this position or not, it can help to get your partner or a friend to double check.
  • From this neutral position, take a deep inhale and bring your gaze upward while arching your back down.
  • Pause, then exhale and bring your head in between your arms while rounding the back and bringing the tailbone down.
  • Continue to go back and forth between these two positions for 10-15 counts.

Videos by Anastasia Shuraeva

2. Child’s Pose

Similar to the cat & cow pose, child’s pose also relieves tightness in the lower back, as well as stretches hips, thighs, and ankles. This is a very restorative stretch, which can be performed every day if needed.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Begin on all-fours.
  • Gently bring your buttocks back to your heels (as far back as you can comfortably go).
  • Extend your arms straight in front of you and rest your forehead on the ground or mat.
  • Stay here for at least 30 seconds.

Photos by Karolina Grabowska

3. Chest Stretch

A big problem with poor posture is a lot of the time we cave inward toward our chest. This can create tight chest muscles, as well as cause the shoulders to roll forward which completely throws off our posture. The chest stretch is an excellent choice to counterbalance this common mistake.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Find a doorway where you can place your forearms on the doorframe. Your elbows should be bent at about shoulder height.
  • Step or lean through the doorway. This should create a gentle stretch through the front of the chest.
  • Hold here for 30 seconds.
  • This is another exercise that can be performed every day if needed.

4. Seated Row

The seated row strengthens the postural muscles located in the upper and lower back, helping bring your shoulders down and back so that you can maintain that neutral position. For this exercise, you will need a resistance band.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Sit tall in a chair and wrap the band around a stable object in front of you, holding the end of the band in each hand.
  • Start with your arms out straight and a bit of tension in the band.
  • Pinch your shoulder blades down and back, and slowly start pulling the band toward you while bending your elbows alongside your body.
  • Once your elbows reach your torso, pause, then slowly return to the start.
  • Repeat for 10-12 repetitions and 2-3 sets.

5. Chin Tuck

The chin tuck works the deep neck flexors. These muscles rarely get the attention they deserve. Yet, they are crucial for maintaining the alignment of the neck and upper spine.

Here’s how you do this one:

  • Lie face-up on a comfortable surface. It might be more comfortable for some individuals to place a rolled towel between the back of the mat or ground and their neck.
  • Without bringing the back of your head up off the ground, gently bring your chin toward your chest (as if you were making a double-chin).
  • Pause for 5 seconds, then release. 
  • Repeat for 10-12 repetitions and 2-3 sets.
  • Once this gets easy, you can also perform this exercise from a sitting position or all-fours for a further challenge.

6. The Kleenex Box Exercise

This exercise involves bringing your shoulder blades down and back. It’s particularly useful if you have winged shoulder blades, or shoulder blades that tend to splay outward. This can interfere with the alignment of your spine, back, shoulders, and neck.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Press your back against a wall.
  • Hold a kleenex box between your palms, with your elbow bent to 90-degrees and your shoulder blades pinched down and back.
  • Slowly raise the kleenex box while keeping your elbows at 90-degrees and your shoulder blades down and back (and on the wall!).
  • The goal is to reach the box to the wall above and behind you. However, you should only go so far so that your elbows remain in-line with one another and your back remains on the wall.
  • Perform 10-12 repetitions with 2-3 sets.

7. Supermans

The superman exercise targets your glutes, hamstrings, lower back, and abdominals. For those that tend to hunch forward, this is also a really great chest opening exercise.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Begin lying face-down on a mat with your arms extended in front of you and your legs extended behind you.
  • Slowly lift your arms, head, chest, and legs all at the same time while squeezing your glutes and bringing your shoulder blades down and back (your shoulders should not be up by your ears!).
  • Pause here for 5-10 seconds, then slowly lower.
  • Repeat for 10-12 repetitions and 2-3 sets.

How Long Does It Take to Improve Posture?

Making a habitual change can take work. But it’s well worthwhile! 

If you begin including these exercises into your regular routine, you may see changes in about four to six weeks. However, it takes consistent practice and effort. If you don’t perform these exercises and strive for a change, you won’t get results.

If you’re struggling with proper posture or neck, back, or shoulder pain, the Corydon Physiotherapy team is ready to help. Book your appointment with us today, so you can lead a pain-free life sooner rather than later.

Ernest Raymundo, MPT, B. Kin
Ernest Raymundo, MPT, B. Kin

Ernest graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Masters of Physical Therapy Degree in 2018 and a Bachelor of Kinesiology Degree in 2015. He's excited and keen to be part of our team. During the Physical Therapy program Ernest had the opportunity to contribute to the physiotherapy profession by taking on many leadership roles. Ernest was elected the Vice-President of the College of Rehabilitation Sciences Students’ Association in his first year of the program and President in his second year. He was also the student representative on the Manitoba Physiotherapy Association - Orthopaedic Division. As a life-long learner, Ernest plans to be certified in acupuncture by the Fall of 2020, and will be pursuing other advanced physiotherapy courses.

Ernest was inspired to become a physiotherapist after he sought physiotherapy services following a sports injury when he was 15. Now he wishes to help others return to the activities that they love, whether it is a return to sport, work, or activities of daily living.

Ernest enjoys lifting weights at the gym, biking at the park, and relaxing at the lake. He also enjoys snowboarding and skating in the winter. When he is not outdoors, Ernest can be found playing musical instruments, especially the piano, and he occasionally daydreams of his next travelling adventure.

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