How to improve your posture with these strengthening exercises
You can’t always flaunt your toned legs, emphasize great glutes, or bare a firm midsection. Great posture, however, is not only attractive, but it's a sign of strength and body ownership.
Our sedentary lifestyles in which we spend most of the day sitting don’t just create issues in the lower part of the body. Poor posture can affect the length-tension relationships in your back, causing neck and back pain, headaches, a forward neck tilt, and collapsed shoulders. This causes weaknesses that create pain and major imbalances, leading to shoulder, neck, and back injuries during times we are active. For all of these reasons, the upper body should be strengthened evenly, incorporating vertical and horizontal pushing and pulling motions, as well as spine activation and postural corrective exercises.
It’s not just athletes who need upper body correctives, mobility, and strength to throw, catch, punch, push, or pull. Everyone can benefit from posture reset and strength routines, including people who carry their kids and those of us who walk our dogs, carry groceries, and even move their own furniture, to give a few examples. In reality, everyone could benefit from a stronger upper body and a postural reset.
Four GO-TO MOVES for a complete posture reset
You can use these together in a mid-day or post-workday mobility session. Aim to go for one to two minutes a move, slowly. You can also pick one or two you have time for between all those Zoom meetings, baby feedings, and life in general!
The great thing is that so many of these moves are super easy; you can literally do them during a TV commercial. Doing these exercises two to four times a week, or even daily, can significantly help you add mobility and quality of motion, helping to reset your body. To get started, you will need a foam roller and an open-ended TheraBand. A kettlebell is also recommended.
1. Upper back and shoulders
For this exercise, you'll plant your feet evenly on the ground. Then, bend over with your arms stretched out toward your back. Work your hands upward, but not so high that your neck collapses. Push the hips forward and make a big circle with your arms. Connect your hands by your lower back and pull your palms together, resting them on the top of your glutes.
2. Shoulders and neck
You'll need the TheraBand for this exercise. Place your hands inside of the knees with your thumbs forward. Pick a side and follow your thumb upward as you move your arm. The TheraBand should be grounded with your feet, and use the other end with your arm as you extend it up. Make sure your neck follows your arm and then come back to starting position. Switch sides.
3. Back and hamstrings
For this exercise, you'll need a water bottle or kettlebell. Place it behind you. Grab onto the kettlebell with both hands behind you. Make sure you are shoulder-width, shoot your legs back, and keep your weight in the heels. Then, come down to the ground as far as you can so that you form a 90-degree angle. Raise and lower yourself. This stretches your hamstrings and teaches your back to stay straight.
4. Middle and lower back
Lay down on a mat with your foam roller. Place it just below your armpits on your back. Place your hands on the back of your head, similar to a sit-up position. Then, begin to roll back so that your head rests on the ground. Come back up and open up the chest as far as you can, then press in and come back to the start position. This exercise opens up the lumbar region.
Dasha L. Anderson is a celebrated trainer and fitness expert in New York City, with a master's degree in exercise science and sports nutrition and a specialty in performance enhancement and injury prevention. She is also the founder and head certifying instructor of Kettlebell Kickboxing and has contributed to Self, Shape, Fitness Rx, and Epoch Times.