Exercises to Improve Posture: Exercise your way to less back pain, fewer headaches and better posture!

Having correct posture isn’t just about the aesthetics of it, it also comes down to improving your overall health! Exercises for spinal health can give your body a myriad of improvements, like reducing back pain, fewer frequent headaches and of course – better posture!

It has also been said to have a positive impact on your mood as well. Reducing back pain and frequent headaches is something that is researched by millions of people everyday, but many do not know that it isn’t just medicine that can help with this.

Exercises for combating bad posture is not as challenging as some may think , and there’s a variety of simple exercises that can be of great benefit. If you spend a lot of time at a desk, like at work, take into consideration how you are sitting (ex. rounded shoulders), because it does truly effect your health and outlook on life.

I mean, think about it…if every movement you make is hindered by a stiff and poorly aligned spine, how do you go about in the world? Chances are you will limit your activities. The movements below will keep you agile , mobile and hostile! ( okay, maybe not hostile )

What are exercises to improve your posture?

It’s frequently stated that many people in their later stages of life believe that they can’t correct the years and years of poor posture that their bodies are accustomed to, but this is entirely untrue! If you do the proper posture exercises , especially 4-5 times per week, you can and will see significant improvements. You may also notice a reduction of back pain, experience fewer headaches and have a better mood. Upgrading on several fronts!

When checking your posture, many researchers and personal trainers suggest that you check the distance between the curvature of your neck and a wall. Stand with your back towards a wall, and rest the back of your head on it.

If you are finding yourself uncomfortable with your shoulders and head resting against the wall behind you (while keeping your lower back on the wall as well) , you likely have poor posture and have a hunched appearance to your neck and shoulders.

This can be corrected, of course, if you take a bit of time to do exercises to improve posture. While this won’t happen overnight, if you do these specific posture exercises for at least 30 days you will begin to see the difference. Stay strong and consistent here…we got this.

Planking

The High Plank can help reduce muscle pain and stiffness throughout your body while strengthening your core, your shoulder muscles and your hamstrings. These areas of muscles being strengthened can improve posture if done correctly.Get into the starting position by getting on your forearms and knees and straighten your legs, raise your hips by stretching your legs and using your toes to hold your body.

  1. Straighten your back and engage your abdominal muscles , arms, and legs muscles.
  2. Lengthen the back of your neck, and look downward toward the floor.
  3. Try to keep your chest open and squeezing shoulder blades together as best you can.
  4. Hold this position for up to 30 seconds to one minute at a time.

Downward-Facing Dog

You have probably heard of this pose as a well known yoga move! This is a forward facing body bend that can be used in your daily exercises for posture correction. It also helps relieve pain in your lower back muscles , while also stabilizing and aligning your spine.

  1. Lay with your stomach on the floor, tuck your toes under your feet and use your arms to press your body up.
  2. Lift your knees (you can keep knees bent a little) , and stretch your hips back towards the sky.
  3. Try to keep your arms and ears aligned to help with proper balance and posture improvements.
  4. Remain in this pose for 30 seconds to one minute at a time. Repeat as necessary!

Pigeon Pose

This pose is a plus for your posture by helping to lubricate your joints and loosen tightened hip flexors and Glutes. Exercises to improve posture don’t just involve muscle building, but loosening your tight muscles and improving your flexibility.

  1. Begin in Downward-Facing Dog, as described above.
  2. Step forward so your feet are together and then move your right knee forward between your hands. Your other leg should still be resting on the mat.
  3. The opposite hip should be pointing down toward the mat. If it begins moving up, pull your other foot nearer to your body.
  4. Stay with your hands resting on your leg, or walk your fingers out in front of you, allowing your body to rest over the knee. 
  5. Hold and breathe through areas of tightness and tension for 3–5 breaths, or about 30 seconds.
  6. Lastly place your hands on the mat in front of you, tuck your toes, and step your foot back. You’ll now be back in Downward-Facing Dog again. Repeat 5-10  times per session.

Child’s Pose

Don’t be surprised by the name, as this pose is great for everyone of all ages! This stretching exercise will help reduce muscle pain and improve posture by re-aligning your spine with every set.

  1. Lower yourself onto your hands and knees, keep your toes touching but spread your knees to your shoulder width apart.
  2. Using your fingers, pull your upper body forward on your hands and extend your arms as far as you can.
  3. Slowly start to drop your hips back and rest them on your knees in a kneeling position.
  4. Try to rest your head below you, feeling the gentle tug on your muscles (don’t overdo it!)
  5. Breathe and hold the pose from 10-30 seconds, and repeat as often as you like.

Glute Bridge (Simplified Back Bridge)

This is an easy way to exercise to improve your posture with added benefits. Doing this will help make the muscles such as your glutes and pelvic floor activate which will in turn help with overall posture.

  1. Lay on your back with your feet flat on the ground, knees bent at about 75 degrees. You should have just enough distance from butt to heels that your fingers can touch your ankles.
  2. Push your hips up, through your feet and engage your glutes, hamstrings and core muscles. 
  3. You should be able to keep your back, hips and thighs at a straight angle, or you could hurt yourself. If you can’t achieve this, you should work on your core strength more frequently.
  4. SLOWLY lower yourself back to a lying position, and repeat 10-20 times.


Conclusion

Because we are in an era where sitting in front of the tv, crossing our legs under our desks and staring at our cell phones are a common practice – we are slowly letting our flexibility and strength diminish. When we lose our abilities, like flexibility and strength, we drastically reduce our comfort, increase the levels of body pain we experience and sometimes ruin our self-confidence.

This leads to not only poor posture as stated above, but also increases the overall mental stress we experience and shortens our lifespans. Exercises for posture can not only help with your spine , but can also help improve your muscle strength, your body’s flexibility and increase longevity. While improving your spine’s discs , and improving important muscles’ strength is never a “quick-fix”, with the right amount of self discipline to exercise daily you can improve posture and your overall health. 

Lastly, don’t hesitate to consult a doctor or better yet a physical therapist if you feel you need more assistance with your spine health. I wish you all the best in health and happiness.

References:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325883

https://www.healthline.com/health/guide-to-better-posture-exercises#first-week

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