Who remembers being told to correct their posture over and over again? Turns out your mom and teacher had a really good point. However, poor posture is more than standing tall and looking good. It actually helps to strengthen your core and improve balance. Poor posture only adds to muscle strain and back pain and in some cases, it can also make you shorter!
Thanks to our smartphones and other devices, it seems good posture has gone completely out the window. Just think of how much time we spend looking down at our phones when we are on the move or relaxing on a chair. This bad habit exposes our bodies to chronic back and neck pain as well as unnatural spinal wear.
Fortunately, you can correct your posture with a few simple exercises and get rid of that muscle strain for good.
How To Tell If You Have Poor Posture
Aside from back pain, poor posture is a key factor behind poor circulation and chronic fatigue. If left untreated, over time, poor posture can lead to more problems and pain like herniated disks and spinal misalignment. But how can you tell if you have poor posture? Most of the time we think we are standing or sitting in a neutral position, however, if you had to take a closer look, you may notice that you are slouching. Here are a few things to look for to determine whether your posture is poor or not:
- Frequent headaches and backache.
- Rounded shoulders.
- Body pain.
- A slight potbelly.
- Knees are bent while standing or walking.
- Head tilted backward or forwards.
- Pelvis pushed forward
- Weaker abdominal muscles.
- Flat back.
- Hunched back and shoulders.
If you notice any of these examples above, you may need to spend some time correcting your posture.
Simple Exercises To Correct Your Posture
Incorporating these easy yet effective exercises into your daily routine will not only help to improve your posture but will also help with toning your muscles, giving you a leaner, stronger frame.
Exercise #1 – Single Leg Extensions Without A Machine
Single leg extensions are perfect for challenging and activating abdominal muscles while also stabilizing the pelvis and strengthening the quadriceps.
How To Start
To start this move, lie flat on your back on top of a yoga mat. Your hands should be behind your head and your knees should be bent with your feet planted flat on the mat. The small of your back should be pressed firmly against the mat and your head should be slightly tucked towards your chest and raised off the floor.
Activate your core by exhaling and pulling in your navel. Slowly start to bring one knee towards your chest while extending the other leg in front of you and off the mat at a 45-degree angle. Ensure the small of your back is pressed firmly to the mat when doing this move. If you are struggling to keep your back from arching off of the floor, raise the extended leg a little higher towards the ceiling. Rotate legs. Start with 4 reps per leg and slowly work your way up to 10 per leg.
Exercise #2 – Child’s Pose
If you are prone to slouching, performing child’s pose will help stretch and lengthen your spine, hips, thighs, and ankles without putting too much pressure or strain on your tight muscles.
How To Start
Start by kneeling on the mat with your big toes touching each other and your knees hip-width. Make sure the top of each foot and your hands are flat against the mat. Slowly lower your stomach between your thighs and rest your forehead against the mat. Your arms should be extended in front of you with your palms flat on the mat. Relax your shoulders and breathe in and out slowly and deeply. Hold this pose for at least five minutes while inhaling and exhaling continuously.
Exercise #3 – Hip Bridge
This exercise can be done just about anytime, even if you are still in your pyjamas. Hip bridges are great for strengthening the core and hamstrings and toning the buttocks and glutes. They are also beginner-friendly and do wonders for stabilizing the spine.
How To Start
Lie with your back flat against the mat with your hands resting at your side. Your knees should be bent and your feet should be planted firmly against the ground. To start this movement, tighten your core and slowly raise your hips towards the ceiling. Your knees should form a straight line to your shoulders. Activate your core by pulling your stomach in towards your spine. Hold this pose for 30 seconds before lowering your hips back into the starting position. Repeat this movement 10 times before moving on.
Exercise #4 – The Seated Spinal Twist
This is a yoga pose that is great for improving digestion and increasing mobility in the spine. By using a variety of twisting postures like the spinal twist, it helps to stimulate and massage internal organs and stretch out the muscles in your back, sides, and thighs.
How To Start
Start by sitting upright on the mat with your legs extended in front of you. Next, cross your left leg over the right with your right foot flat on the floor next to your right glute. Ensure that your hips are square. Stretch your right arm behind you with your fingertips gently resting on the mat. Rotate your torso towards the right. Hook your left arm around your bent knee. As you exhale, gently rotate your torso a little further and hold for a few seconds. Gently come back to a neutral position and repeat with the other side.
Exercise #5 – The Plank
Planking is extremely beneficial for a full-body workout. The plank helps to strengthen the core, back muscles, pelvis, shoulders, and legs in one single movement. Additionally, planking helps to improve posture naturally as it strengthens your rhomboids (the muscle between the shoulder blades) and the trapezius (the muscles that extend from the occipital bone to the scapula and lower thoracic vertebrae.
How To Start
To start, kneel on the mat with your hands flat beneath your shoulders. Slowly Extend both legs behind you until they are straight and your toes are slightly tucked under. Use your hands and arms to support your body, like you would with a push-up. Tighten your core and pull in your abdominal muscles to prevent you from tipping over. Look straight down at the floor. Hold the plank position for as long as possible. When you are feeling tired, gently come back into a neutral position, and repeat for 30 seconds or longer. Be sure to keep your abdominal muscles firm and pulled in so that your lower back does not arch when exhaling.
These are just a few exercises you can practice safely at home to help strengthen your core and back. You should feel more comfortable and aware of your posture when working, walking, or standing. If these exercises do not help with alleviating neck or back pain, seek further advice from a physio or medical professional on the best treatment for your chronic backache.