Frankly, modern life can be stressful and, if you’re not careful, it can wreak a certain kind of havoc on your spine. Posture correction exercises may be able to help, but you must be diligent.
If you tend to have poor posture – rounded shoulders, forward head posture, bad shoulder posture, or atrophied postural muscles – you might want to check out posture exercises.
Just a few minutes of stretching each day may not only help your neck pain or aching back muscles, but it could also help you achieve better posture, which is important for overall health.
What Is Posture? How Can Posture Be Affected By Your Daily Physical Activity?
Nowadays, most people spend hours and hours working on a computer. Even school-aged kids bring computers to and from school like a textbook. Working in sedentary postures is becoming more widespread. And if you don’t get up from your desk and move, it can mean trouble for the future of your musculoskeletal system.1But it’s not too late to correct your posture.
Here are the basics: Posture is the general position you tend to hold your body in as you stand or sit. Actually, you can even have good posture or poor posture while you’re lying down.
So What Does Correct Posture Look Like And How Can You Achieve It?
Healthy posture means that your body is holding a position that allows your spine to be in correct alignment. Proper posture allows for just the right amount of muscle tension, stacking of your spinal discs, and carriage of various body parts against the force of gravity. If you didn’t have posture, you’d just be a pile of bones and tissue… immoveable.
According to the American Chiropractic Association, good posture is achievable with practice. So, what does good posture look like?
Well, you want to stand with your feet at about the width of your shoulders. Bear your body’s weight on the balls of the feet, if you can and allow your knees to bend, just a little. Try not to lock your knees. 2
When it comes to your arms, let them hang by your side. Don’t try to push them into any specific position. Imagine there’s a thread that follows your spine from your lower back through your neck and out the top of your head. Pretend someone is above you tugging the string upward to the sky. This should make you feel taller. Roll your shoulders back and tuck your tummy in. 3
Finally, make sure your ears are over your shoulders and you’re not jutting your chin forward or cock your head to one side.4
Can Posture Exercises Help To Support Good Posture? Upper Body, Lower Back, And Leg Posture
Like any of your other muscles, postural muscles require posture exercises in order to keep you holding your body in the right way for the long haul. It may not be possible to achieve ‘perfect posture,’ but you can likely achieve better posture.
Posture exercises can help reduce strain on your body by supporting the balance of your skeleton and muscles. When your muscles and skeleton are well-balanced, they can actually help protect your body from experiencing any damage or progressive degeneration.5
Maintaining the right sitting posture is important when it comes to sitting at a desk – you don’t want to cause undue habitual strain on your back muscles or neck muscles. Believe it or not, your back is under more stress and strain when you’re in a seated position than it is when you’re standing or lying down.6
If improper posture gets adopted as a habit when you’re young, your body will likely hold onto that posture. This can result in discomfort in your muscles, tendons, spine, joints, and discs. But posture exercises might be able to help you reduce stress on your spinal ligaments. 7
Try These Posture Exercises For Neck, Back, And Shoulders: Daily Posture Correction Exercises
One of the biggest issues with posture is slouching. Slouching might not necessarily cause discomfort, but it can stress out your muscles. Try to focus on the proper posture for sitting when you get to your desk. You have to condition your muscles to hold your body in the right way, so at first, it may feel like work. But in time, this practice will become second nature.
When you go to the gym, try to focus on various exercises that help improve your core strength and your glutes.
To do a plank, make sure you have a good exercise mat. Assume an on-all-fours position. From there, place your elbows underneath your shoulders. Rest your forearms on the floor. Next, lift your knees so your toes are the only point of contact on the ground (along with your elbows and forearms).
Hold your body straight from head to toe. Also, be sure to engage your core. Squeeze your shoulder blades back and down (as if the points are trying to touch your mid-back and each other). Hold this pose for around 30 seconds or so. If you can last a minute, that’s great. (And don’t forget to breathe). Repeat 3 times.
Lie down on your exercise mat with your hands at your sides and your chin towards the ceiling. Bend your knees. Allow your feet to rest flat on the floor under them. Contract your abs and glutes by pushing your lower back up toward the ceiling. Raise your hips and activate your core muscles. Your body should look like a bridge. Hold this pose for a good 30 seconds. Repeat 5 times.
A proper back extension begins on a yoga mat. Lie on your tummy. Let your legs rest straight behind you. Press your palms into the floor. Keep them beneath your shoulders. Then, lift your upper back by pressing the hips into the mat as well. Keep your neck neutral and your head in line with your back. Hold this pose for 30 seconds. Repeat for 3 sets.
Could Poor Posture Be A Sign Of Something Else? What Else Can Lead To Bad Posture
Bad posture isn’t always related to habitual musculoskeletal patterns. In some cases, it could be a sign of other issues.
In some rare instances, your central nervous system could be a bit compromised. If this is the case, it can sometimes disrupt the steady flow of information inside the brain. In other instances, poor posture might mean potentially compromised communication between your brain and your body.8 Of course, this is often the exception, not the rule.
However, in the event that you’re experiencing any type of postural discomfort, it’s never a bad idea to visit your doctor and ask a few questions.
Think About Your Posture
Maybe you’ve never thought about the definition of posture before today. It’s not really something human beings are designed to think about. Maintaining posture is just something you’re built to do, unconsciously.
The reason you don’t think about your posture is that your muscles have always done the thinking for you. You now know about how to exercise your postural muscles, back muscles, glutes, and hamstrings. The exercises outlined here can help you maintain good posture and avoid bad posture. For all intents and purposes, your postural muscles are largely responsible for keeping gravity from pushing you over, whether you’re standing still or moving. So keep them strong.
Posture exercises can also help your muscles ‘remember’ how to work together in a more efficient manner. In the end, if you are diligent about doing these exercises and taking note of your posture as you work, eat, or carry out any regular activity, you can correct the way you hold yourself.