So many of us spend eight hours (or more) a day in a seated position at a desk or using technology. Some standing habits lead to poor posture as well. This is the reason why many people experience many of the negative effects of poor posture, even in the early stages of their lives.
Over time bad posture affects your health. Good news is that conscious efforts and exercises can help you regain good posture. Here are easy exercises to improve a posture that will help your body assume proper alignment. But first, let’s discuss some of the ways you can differentiate good posture vs bad posture.
Good Posture vs. Bad Posture
A good posture is simply balanced and upright. Anything aside from this is bad and will ultimately affect your health in the long run.
- Standing Position
When standing, a good posture will have the head in line with the shoulders. On the other hand, having your head held forward of the shoulders or being tilted to one side is bad posture. A good posture will have the chin tucked in without poking or jutting forward. The shoulders are relaxed and the bottom tucked in. Hunch shoulders, sticking out bottoms, are characteristic of bad postures in the standing position. The individual has to be able to stand with their feet slightly apart and in line with the shoulders. Total body weight also has to be equally divided because a failure, in this case, will cause the spine to tilt or curve sideways.
- Sitting Position
To maintain a good sitting posture, you have to sit with the chin tucked in, the shoulders relaxed and back straight. The hips, knees, and ankles are also to be at right angles with the thighs in level with the knees. You don’t want to poke the chin forward or sit with hunch shoulders.
However, maintaining a good posture is not limited to sitting and standing alone. It extends further into the way you walk, the way you lie down, etc. In all of these, it is important that you understand how necessary it is to keep the spine straight and in line.
Exercises To Improve Posture
1. Wall Angel
The wall angel exercise is exceptionally good at strengthening the back and improving body posture. Here’s how to do it:
- Stand with your back against the wall
- The wrists and elbows, head and shoulders, the back, rear, and heels should all touch the wall
- Raise your hands slowly till they are over your head
- Lower your hands till they are even with your shoulders
- Repeat five to ten times
2. The Corner Stretch
This exercise helps to improve chest flexibility
- Place your forearms and palms on either side of the wall at approximately shoulder level.
- Exhale, and pulling your lower abdominal muscles into your spine, lean toward the wall. You only need to go to the point where it feels challenging but causes no pain or discomfort. It’s more important to move your whole body as a unit, and not bend anywhere along the chain.
- Hold the position for between 5-30 seconds, then come back to start.
- Repeat 5 to 10 times
3. The Doorway Stretch
- Stand in an open doorway. Raise each arm up to the side, bent at 90-degree angles with palms forward. Rest your palms on the door frame.
- Slowly step forward with one foot. Feel the stretch in your shoulders and chest. Stand upright and don’t lean forward.
- Hold for 30 seconds. Step back and relax
- Repeat 3 times
4. Chest Opener
This exercise allows you to open and stretch your chest. This is especially useful if you spend most of your day sitting, which tends to make your chest move inward. Strengthening your chest also helps you stand up straighter.
- Stand with your feet about hip-width apart
- Bring your arms behind you and interlace your fingers with your palms pressing together. Grasp a towel if your hands don’t reach each other.
- Keep your head, neck, and spine in one line as you gaze straight ahead.
- Inhale as you lift your chest toward the ceiling and lift your hands up.
- Breathe deeply as you hold this pose for 5 breaths.
- Release and relax for a few breaths.
- Repeat at least 10 times.
5. High Plank
The high plank pose helps to relieve pain and stiffness throughout your body while strengthening your shoulders, glutes, and hamstrings. It also helps you develop balance and strength in your core and back, both important for good posture.
- Come onto all fours and straighten your legs, lift your heels, and raise your hips.
- Straighten your back and engage your abdominal, arm, and leg muscles.
- Lengthen the back of your neck, soften your throat, and look down at the floor.
- Make sure to keep your chest open and your shoulders back.
- Hold this position for up to 1 minute at a time.
6. Side Plank
You can use a side plank to maintain the neutral alignment of your spine and legs. This energizing pose works the muscles in your sides and glutes. Strengthening and aligning these muscles helps to support your back and improve posture.
- From a high plank position, bring your left hand slightly into the centre.
- Shift your weight onto your left hand, stack your ankles, and lift your hips.
- Place your right hand on your hip or extend it up toward the ceiling.
- You can drop your left knee down to the floor for extra support.
- Engage your abdominals, side body, and glutes as you maintain this pose.
- Align your body in a straight line from the crown of your head to your heels.
- Look straight ahead of you or up toward your hand.
- Hold this pose for up to 30 seconds.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
7. Forward Hold
This standing stretch releases tension in your spine, hamstrings, and glutes. It also stretches your hips and legs. While doing this stretch, you should feel the entire backside of your body opening up and lengthening.
- Stand with your big toes touching and your heels slightly apart.
- Bring your hands to your hips and fold forward at your hips.
- Release your hands toward the floor or place them on a block. Don’t worry if your hands don’t touch the ground — just go as far as you can.
- Bend your knees slightly, soften your hips joints, and allow your spine to lengthen.
- Tuck your chin into your chest and allow your head to fall heavily to the floor.
- Remain in this pose for up to 1 minute.