Whether you’ve found yourself hunched over a desk during the day or you spend too much time slouched over while standing up, the effects of poor posture can be truly detrimental to your overall physical and mental wellbeing. Thanks to an increase in the use of technology like smartphones, tablets and laptops, practicing good posture is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Perhaps even more troubling, most of us fail to realize the extreme of our poor posture until we’re faced with the often painful consequences of these habits. However, technology isn’t solely to blame for potentially harmful posture. Other factors such as standing for long periods of time, carrying heavy items like backpacks or small children and even driving can contribute to a decline in proper posture habits. So, what are some indications that you have poor posture and how can you fix it?
Most people are unaware that their posture has become a problem until they begin to experience unpleasant symptoms. If you’ve found yourself grappling with any of these symptoms on a consistent basis, it’s time to start paying better attention to your daily posture habits.
In most cases, repairing your posture isn’t as simple as sitting it up straight. It involves consciously implementing exercises into your daily life that work to counteract the impacts of prolonged bad posture and provide relief for your most frustrating symptoms. During our 30 day challenge, you will follow the instructions for one exercise every single day. These exercises have been carefully selected to target the muscle groups that are most affected by poor posture and many of them can be easily performed seated, on the go or just about anywhere!
To combat our tendency to arch our back during the day, exercises like this can create balance by engaging our spine in the opposite direction. Begin by laying flat on your arms stretched out in front you. Gently raise your arms and legs a few inches off the ground. Be mindful of your neck by keeping your gaze directed towards the ground. Repeat 3 times.
This classic exercise works to fire up your core while providing much needed support for your lower back. In a push up position, hold yourself up with your hands directly under your shoulders, feet hip width apart and your spine in a straight, long line. For a lower impact modification, lower your knees to the ground. Hold for 30 seconds.
This traditional yoga posture encourages you to stay centered, tall and strong. In an upright position, stand with your feet hip width apart and your shoulders rolled back. Extend your arms out by your side with your palms facing forward. Enjoy a few deep breaths here.
You can utilize this stretch in either a sitting or standing position. Simply bring your hands to the sides of your head with your elbows pointed outwards. Breathe in deeply and bring your shoulder blades closer together while feeling a deep stretch through your chest. Take 3 deep breaths here.
Cat Cow Stretch
This exercise will improve your overall spinal mobility and can even relieve mild back pain. While on all fours, inhale and arch your back and bring your chin as close to your chest as comfortably possible. On an exhale, lift your head up and curve your back down towards the ground. Repeat for 3 - 5 rounds of breath.
You can use this pose as an opportunity to release spinal tension and enjoy a bit of stress relief during the day. While sitting on your kees, stretch your arms out in front of you and lower your belly down to the tops of your thighs. Lower your forehead down to the floor and reach out even further with your hands. Enjoy as many deep breaths as you’d like!
This engaging exercise can be performed sitting, standing or just about anywhere! Begin by straightening your spine and bringing your hands together with one fist and the other wrapped around it. On an inhale, bring your shoulder blades together and press your hand and fist firmly. Hold for 5 seconds and release on an exhale. Repeat for 3 to 5 rounds.
This stretch can provide much needed relief for a stiff feeling neck and can be performed either seated or standing. Begin by gently tilt your head with one ear towards your shoulder. You can intensify this by bringing your hand to your head and lightly pulling your head further down. Repeat on the opposite side.
If you need to correct your posture during the day, this exercise is an easy go-to way to straighten up your spine. While either seated or standing, straighten your back and slowly bring your shoulders up to your ears. Roll your shoulders all the way back down your spine and forward up to your ears again. Repeat 3 to 5 times. Next, repeat the exercise again while rolling your shoulders in the opposite direction.
This exercise can provide relief for lower back tension as well as a deep hamstring stretch. Sit down with your back straightened and your legs stretched out in front of you. While keeping your back as straight as possible, fold over your legs as far as you can comfortably reach. Hold here for a few deep breaths.
This easy exercise can be performed practically anywhere and will quickly open your chest, straighten up your spine and provide relief for tight shoulders. Reach each hand behind your back and grab for the elbow opposite from it with one arm resting on top of the other. Roll your shoulder blades back and down your spine while gently pressing down with your hands. Take a few deep breaths here, before repeating with the opposite arm on top.
Twisting exercises are a beloved fixture in most yoga practices and are lauded for their ability to release tension in the spine and allowing the body a chance to reset itself. Sit on the ground with one leg out straight in front of you and the other knee bent up towards the sky. Reach your opposite hand to the knee and gently pull yourself until you are twisting as far as you can comfortably reach. Be sure to keep your neck relaxed while shifting your gaze over your shoulder. Hold here for 3 to 5 deep breaths, then repeat on the other side.
If you find yourself hunching over during the day, taking a quick forward fold can give you a chance to completely release and reset your spine, leaving you feeling refreshed and energized. Begin standing upright with your feet hip width apart. Placing emphasis on every vertebrae in your spine, slowly start to roll down from the top of your head until you can almost reach your toes. Allow your neck and shoulders to completely relax and enjoy 3 to 5 deep breaths here.
Not only will this exercise help strengthen your lower back, it also gives a boost to your deep core muscles, glutes and hamstrings. These muscles will all play a pivotal role in improving your overall posture. Begin laying down on your back with your feet hip width apart and your feet directly below your knees. Inhale and tuck your stomach in as if you are zipping up your core and slowly bring your pelvis up as high as you can comfortably hold. On an exhale, lower your hips back down to the ground. Repeat 5 to 7 times.
This dynamic exercise works to strengthen your deep core and provide support for your lower back. Begin on all fours with your hand directly below your shoulders and your knees aligned under your hips. Next, raise your left arm to be stretched out in front of you and your right leg extended behind you. Hold for a few seconds before bringing them back down to the ground. Repeat again using the opposite arm and leg. Continue alternating until you have done 3 to 5 rounds on each side.
Wide Legged Fold
Just like a traditional forward fold, this pose releases tension in your spine, shoulders and neck with the added bonus of providing a deep stretch for your hamstrings and glutes. Start by standing with your legs spread as widely apart as is comfortable for you. Hinge over from your hips and lower your upper body down until you reach the ground. You can completely release your neck and shoulders here, maybe even gently shaking your head from left to right. Take 3 to 5 deep breaths here.
This dynamic stretch helps to elongate your spine while providing a deep stretch through the often hard to reach oblique muscles. Begin in an upright position either standing up tall or seated with your back straight. Raise your arms straight above your head with your shoulders rolled back down your spine. Gently grab your left wrist with your right hand and start pulling your arm over until your body makes a C shape. Breathe deeply here and feel the stretch through your side body. Repeat on the opposite side.
This challenging pose is a great way to encourage a strong, straight spine while building strength for your quadriceps, glutes and deep core muscles. Stand against a wall with your feet hip width apart. Slowly lower yourself down until you feel as if you are seated in an invisible chair. Be mindful of your core by tucking your pelvis upwards and pressing your low back firmly against the wall. Hold here for 30 seconds.
If you spend a significant amount of time hunching over at a desk or looking down at your cell phone, it’s important to counter this with stretches that engage your spine in the opposite direction. This pose will engage your upper back muscles and shoulders while giving you a nice reversed stretch for your spine. Begin on your belly with your hands placed beside your shoulders. Slowly press up on your hands until you are arched upwards as far as you can comfortably reach. Take 3 to 5 deep breaths here.
Twisting exercises are a great way to release tension in your spine and have even been shown to promote healthy digestion and improve circulation. Begin in a lunge position and reach both hands down to frame your bent leg. Reach the same arm as your bent leg up towards the sky and allow your gaze to follow it. Hold this pose for 3 to 5 breaths. Repeat on the opposite side.
Reclined Butterfly Pose
This exercise can be used after a long day to promote deep relaxation while releasing tension in the hips and spine or first thing in the morning to start your day off right! Lay down on your back with your knees bent. Bring your feet together and allow your knees to fall open to the sides. Take 3 to 5 deep breaths here.
You can return to this pose any time you find yourself hunching over during the day to realign your spine, shoulders and neck. Stand upright with your feet hip width apart and roll your shoulders back and down your spine. Bring one leg up and gently place your foot on either your low calf or upper thigh, making sure to avoid putting pressure on your knee joints. You can hold this pose with hands resting by your side, in a prayer pose at your chest or stretched up towards the sky. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths.
Lunge exercises offer a chance to elongate your spine while stretching through your hips and hamstrings. Begin with one leg in front of the other and bend your front knee. Bring your hands all the way down to the ground to frame your front leg. Be mindful of your neck and shoulders by imagining your spine as one long line from your tailbone all the way to the top of your head. Hold here for 3 to 5 breaths. Repeat on the opposite side.
This variation on a traditional plank exercise helps to engage the oblique muscles while promoting a long, straight spine. Start in a standard plank position with your core engaged and hips lifted. Shift your weight to one hand and reach your opposite hand up to the sky. You can perform this pose with your bottom knee bent for more stability or with feet stacked for an extra challenge. Hold for 3 to 5 deep breaths. Repeat on the opposite side.
Wall Shoulder Extensions
These extensions may seem easy, but they will help train you to maintain a straight spine throughout the day each and every time you practice them. Start by standing with your spine pressed up against a wall and your core engaged to protect your lower back. Bring your arms out to make a goal post shape with your elbows bent and hands pointed upwards. Slowly raise your arms up the wall until they are fully straightened. Move them back down to goal post again. Try your best to keep all of your limbs pressed fully against the wall during these repetitions. Repeat 5 to 7 times.
This exercise provides a gentle twisting motion for the spine and a gentle stretch for your hip flexors. Begin by laying down on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Stretch your arms out long beside you and slowly drop one knee to the side as the other follows it. Continue slowly the motion of dropping one knee to the side at a time. Repeat 5 to 7 times.
Cow Face Pose
This dynamic posture gives a deep stretch for the shoulder muscles and straightens up the spine. Start in a seated position with one leg crossed over the top and knees stacked on top of each other. Lift one arm and reach down to the middle of your back. Bring the opposite arm to meet it. You can either hold here or gently pull your lifted arm down even further using the opposing hand. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths. Repeat on the opposite side.
Hollow Body Pose
This challenging core exercise can help protect your lower back by strengthening your lower abs and back muscles. Begin in a seated position and slowly lower down until your legs and arms are hovering just a few inches off the ground. Stay mindful of your core by curving your pelvis upwards and pressing your lower back into the ground. If this seems too difficult, you can modify by allowing your knees to bend and placing the tips of your toes on the ground. Hold for 30 seconds.
This pose is the foundation for most yoga routines, for good reason! It elongates the spine while providing a deep stretch for everything from your hamstrings to your shoulders and neck. Begin standing up with your feet hip width apart. Bring your hands down to the mat and walk them out until you’re almost in a plank. Push back on your hands and lift your hips up to the sky. Hold here for 30 seconds.
Thoracic Spinal Stretch
This dynamic stretch can alleviate tension in the thoracic spine, the centermost portion of your back that can become easily stressed from too much time spent hunched over. Begin by laying down on your belly and bringing your arms out long beside you. Lift one leg off the ground and try to reach your foot to the ground on the opposite side, twisting until one hip is off the ground. Hold here for 3 to 5 deep breaths. Repeat on the opposite side.
Maintaining Improved Posture
Once you’ve completed this 30 day challenge, you might be wondering how you can maintain your new and improved posture! The truth is that having good posture isn’t something that happens over night, nor can I be fixed once and never thought of again. Having better postures means putting in the effort to create new, healthy habits. The best way to do this is to implement a few of these exercises into daily routine even after the 30 days have passed. You can pick your absolute favorites or switch it up every week to give yourself a new challenge! By implementing these habits into your everyday life, you can start to see noticeable improvements in posture as well as your overall wellbeing.