Have you been slacking in the posture department?
Thanks to our smartphones, iPads and more, many of us spend our days with our necks craning down to stare at our devices. Working from home has also created complications, affectionately referred to by experts as “pandemic posture.”
Fixing your posture can not only relieve back or neck pain, “it can also have a significant impact on all things related to our respiratory function, core and pelvic health,” explained Trista Zinn, a trainer and founder of Coreset Fitness.
Taking tiny steps toward improving your posture is the best way to go. Here are 16 exercises to try to help get you standing and sitting straighter.
“This exercise works all the muscles of the back, and helps counterbalance the weight of the chest and support the spine,” explained Sebastien Lagree, a trainer and founder of Lagree Fitness.
Sit cross-legged or straddle a bench with cables or bands wrapped around a doorknob or floor mount in front of you. Next, pull the handles back toward your rib cage.
“As you continue to pull the handles toward you, focus on lifting the spine or sitting taller,” Lagree said. “Each time you pull the handles in, aim to sit higher.”
If you don’t have a cable system at home, or access to a gym, grab some free weights and perform bent-over rows.
“Strengthening the muscles that retract the scapula leads to better posture,” said Dr. Alejandro Badia, an orthopedic surgeon in Miami. “This also helps avoid shoulder pain, which often occurs when we slouch or work in a slumped position.”
Bend your knees and lean your upper body forward, keeping a straight spine. Start with your arms straight down in front of you with your palms facing your body, then pull the weights back, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top. Try not to over-extend the movement: Stop right when you get to where your pockets would be on your pants ― i.e., near your hips. Lower your weights and repeat the movement.
This is an equipment-free exercise, and a popular yoga move. Get into an all-fours position on your hands and knees. From here, arch your back, bringing your chest and head up while your stomach drops down.
“You then move the opposite way, round your back towards the ceiling, bring your stomach in and your chin to your chest,” said Joy Puleo, a pilates instructor and Balanced Body Education Program Manager. Hold each position for a second or two and repeat eight to 10 times.