Posture is more important than we think. It prevents pain and unnecessary strain by keeping the spine aligned. Because of good posture, we’re able to perform daily tasks more efficiently. Unfortunately, those with poor posture are unsure of how to improve it and correct some of the problems they’re experiencing.
Step 1: A Conscious Effort
The first step to improving your posture is making a conscious effort to stand and sit correctly. The way to do that is by learning how to stand correctly:
Look straight ahead and stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
Slightly bend the knees.
Keep your shoulders back and aligned. This maintains the thoracic (upper back) curve.
Engage your abdominal muscles to avoid slumping forward or back. This maintains the lumbar curve – the natural curve of the lower back.
As for sitting with good posture:
Place feet flat on the floor.
Position knees slightly lower than the hips.
Keep your head straight and chin aligned over the chest.
Position your shoulders back directly over your hips.
Engage the abdominal muscles to support the lower back (if support is not provided by the chair).
Once you learn to sit and stand correctly, take the initiative to do so every day. When you catch yourself slouching, straighten up! It grows easier once your body and mind adjust.
Step 2: Core Work
The core is the center unit of the body responsible for keeping you stable. Whether you are walking, running or engaging in physical activity, the core promotes balance and supports the spine to maintain proper alignment. To ensure that it is strong enough to do its job, add core exercises to your routine to develop core strength. Exercises to try are:
The plank – add an exercise ball to increase muscle activation
Enter a pushup position with wrists underneath shoulders and legs extended back to create a straight line with your body.
Hold for at least 30 seconds and gradually increase this time.
Straight leg lifts
Lie on your back and place hands on the floor underneath your buttocks.
Keep your legs straight and ensure that your lower back remains on the floor.
Lift your legs until perpendicular to the floor.
Hold for 5-10 seconds.
Slowly lower the legs until they are just a few inches off the ground.
Lift and repeat.
Spider plank crunch
Start in the plank position (see above).
Lift your left leg and drive your knee towards your left elbow.
Return to the starting position.
Repeat on the right side.
Continue alternating sides.
Step 3: Compound Exercises
All of us have overactive and underactive muscles. As you may have guessed, the overactive muscles are strong and work a little too hard while the underactive muscles are weaker and do not do enough. These muscle imbalances can be corrected with compound exercises. A compound exercise is one that activates multiple muscle groups. Take squats, for example. In addition to targeting the muscles in the lower body, including the glutes, quadriceps, and calves, the erector spinal and abdominal muscles are put to work as well. Below are some other compound moves to improve your posture:
Deadlifts (start light and gradually load more weight)