Many of us spend our workdays sitting or standing. Our posture can suffer—and this could lead to health problems like arthritis and back pain.
There are a few quick things you can do to improve your posture:
1. Never sit on your wallet. Sitting with one cheek higher than the other leads to low back pain.
2. Don’t sleep on your stomach. Our necks are designed to relax when positioned straight ahead.
3. Don’t tilt your head back to see through your glasses. If you wear bifocals, it’s particularly tempting to do this. Tilting your head like this causes some of the muscles in the neck to slacken and others to tense.
4. Don’t lift weights with poor posture. Whatever posture you train in is the same posture that you will encourage your body to strengthen in.
5. Perform the following exercises. They will train your posture muscles in three key areas: mobility, stability and strength.
- Lean against a wall with your hips, shoulders and the back of your head pressed against it. Your feet should be about 12 to 18 in (30 to 45 cm) away from the wall, knees slightly bent.
- Position the backs of your hands against the wall (in a “stick ’em up” position) and pull your abdominals in so that your low back is pressing into the wall, too.
- Keeping everything pressed against the wall (low back, back of head, backs of hands), slide the backs of the hands straight up and down the wall. Focus on drawing the shoulders down and together as your hands slide back down.
- Perform 10 to 20 times, pausing at the top and bottom part of the exercise. Rest 30 seconds and then repeat. This is also a good warm-up exercise before an upper body routine in the gym.
Plank with tap outs
- Lie on your stomach with your hands palms down and resting on the floor and your elbows under your shoulders. Tuck your toes under.
- Straighten your legs and lift your body up and off the ground so that you are hovering in a straight line.
- While maintaining a neutral spine and keeping the hips still, slowly tap your straightened left leg out to the side and back to the center again. You do not have to tap out wide—just enough to throw your balance and center off.
- Do 10 times and then switch legs.
Stretch over chair
- Sit in a chair that has a backrest that sits right at mid-back height.
- Feet planted on ground, bum pushed right back and your hands behind your head, look straight ahead and slowly extend over the back of your chair, draping your body over the top. Keep your chin tucked in while you look up to the ceiling.
- Pull your elbows back at the same time and feel the stretch across the chest, fronts of shoulders, abdomen and spine.
- Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat when you feel the need to sit up tall.