Posture exercises are really important to practice. Within today’s society we are constantly walking or sitting down with a hunched back staring at our phones or computer, which is horrible for our posture. I know for myself, I am constantly looking down at my phone and texting or answering emails. My will neck always feels stiff afterwards. When I am at work, I am always bending over to treat patients and by the end of the day my back, shoulders, and neck are sore and killing me.
I see so many people downtown Toronto walking around or sitting on the subway with horrible posture. Sitting and standing with good posture will allow you to work more efficiently feeling less fatigue and strain on your body’s ligaments and muscles. Understanding the importance of good posture is the first step to breaking old poor postural habits and reducing stress and strain on your spine.
Poor posture can be due to weak core muscles, which prevent you from holding your torso and hips in proper alignment. It can also be caused by tight muscles, a common issue for those who sit long hours throughout the day. According to the American Chiropractic Association, obesity, pregnancy and wearing high-heeled shoes can also lead to improper posture. Long-term poor posture effects include problems with bodily systems such as digestion and breathing.
I have put together some of the exercises I like to do on a daily basis to help with my posture. I tend to do these exercises before bed and after a long day. These light exercises allow me to stretch out and relax my muscles for a good night rest. But, you can do these exercises at any point of the day. Either way it is beneficial. 🙂
Scroll down and take a look at each of the exercises. For each stretch hold it for 30 seconds for 3 sets and if it is an exercise perform it for 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
1. Shoulder Blade Retraction
First, sit in a comfortable, relaxed position. Take a breath in, and push your shoulder upward back wards and retract your shoulder blade. When exhaling, let your shoulders roll forward while separating your shoulder blades apart. Repeat 5-10 times. This is a good exercise to do when you are sitting for great amounts of time.
2. Pectoralis Stretch
Lift your arms up to shoulder height, have the palms of your hand facing forward. Take a deep breath in, on the exhale gradually push both hands slightly behind you, while squeezing your shoulder blades together.
3. Standing Forward Bend
Start with your feet a little more than shoulder-width apart. Interlace your fingers, with your palms facing the floor and your arms straightened behind you. Take a deep breath and on the exhale lean forward at the hips, bringing the top of your head towards the floor. While leaning forward, push your hands to the ceiling as well. Make sure to keep you back as straight as possible and only go as far as your body allows you to go. Slowing return back to standing position.
4. Cat Stretch/Child’s Pose
Draw hips back to heels, drop chest, rounding spine, and rest forehead on floor, arms in front of you. Do 6 reps of whole cycle. Rest in Child’s Pose for several breaths.
5. Seated Elbow Grasp
Squeeze your shoulder blades down and together and bring both arms and hands behind you. Grab the right elbow with the left hand and then grab the left elbow with your right hand. If this is too hard, grab your wrist or forearm with the opposite hand. Take a few deep breaths. Lift your chest and keep your shoulder blades down and back. Now repeat by grabbing your left elbow with your right hand this time.
6. Shoulder Squeeze
Bring your shoulder blades down and back and clasp your hands behind you. Slowly lift your arms as far as you are comfortable as you squeeze your shoulder blades together. I like to pretend there is an orange in between my shoulders and I am trying to squeeze the juice out of it by my shoulders. Breathe deeply for a few breath cycles as you are doing this stretch.
7. Chin Retraction
Sit comfortably in an upright position in the chair. This is the starting position. While maintaining the gaze directly ahead, move your head steadily and slowly straight back until it is pulled back as far as you can go. Tuck your chin to your throat, creating a double chin. To enhance the stretch, place your index finger in the centre of your chin and gently push your chin farther toward your throat.
9. Cow Face Pose
Place the back of your left hand on your lower back and slide it up as far as it will comfortably go. Now stretch your right arm up and bend your elbow reaching behind you to grab your left hand. This is difficult, so if you can’t do it, do not worry. Just go as far as you comfortably can and over time you will get better and better. Remember to keep your chest lifted and your shoulders down and back. Hold for a few breath cycles (30 seconds or so) and then repeat sides.
9. Seated Side Bend
While sitting in a yoga like position, rest your left hand flat on the floor. Making sure to keep your back straight, take your right hand and curve it up and over the top of your head, pointing your fingers to the ground. Stretch as far as you can, while still sitting up straight. Switch sides to your left side as well.
Lie flat on the floor with your belly facing down and place your hands directly underneath the shoulders. Ensure your thighs are parallel to each other and your elbows are tucked in close to your body. Squeeze your legs, contract your thighs, and press the feet firmly into the floor. As you take a full breath in, begin to straighten your arms and lift the chest. Let your body dictate a comfortable height for you and ensure your pelvis stays connected to the floor.