No matter how hard you try to avoid it, it’s nonetheless true: your poor posture creates serious repercussions on your physical and mental health, ranging from headaches, decreased lung capacity and neck pain to impinged nerves and damaged intervertebral spinal discs.
If you’re already suffering from a medical condition, it’s most likely that your poor posture makes it worse. Or, with other words, by simply fixing your posture you could get rid of a lot of your existing health problems.
If you’re one of those people who are fully aware of their bad posture but can’t seem to make any real effort to fix it, don’t worry, you’re far from the only one dealing with this issue.
In fact, bad posture is one of the most common modern ailments, and for a very simple reason at that. The truth is that every change is difficult because it requires breaking up with the old habits and installing new ones, which becomes increasingly hard to do as we get older.
However, posture is a crucial aspect of good health and chronic posture problems shouldn’t be taken lightly. And by taking the time to solve this issue right now, you can prevent serious injuries and painful conditions in the future.
In this article, we’ll provide you with a simple yet highly effective guideline on how to fix your poor posture once and for all.
How Does Good Posture Look Like?
Let’s begin by testing how good/bad your posture currently is. First, try balancing something, for example a book, on your head.
If you are able to do it, try to keep the same body posture throughout the day and see how that feels. And if your regular posture is terrible, we can safely assume that it feels pretty awkward.
Ideally, if you stand with your back to a wall, your head should be near the wall or touching it when you look straight ahead, your shoulders should rest very close to the wall and your lower back should be slightly arched.
If this isn’t the case, you can fix it by regularly performing the following five exercises until good posture becomes a part of you.
- Wall Angels
- Hip Hinge with Hands Overhead
- Standing Horizontal Abduction with TRX (or Band)
- Farmer’s Carry
- Double- or Single-Leg Bridge Hold
#1. Wall Angels
Stand next to a wall, maintaining good posture and raise your arms up the wall while keeping your core tight. Your spine should remain neutral while your tailbone, lower back, upper back and head should make contact with the wall. Extend your arms fully overhead without arching your back.
Don’t let your lower back, elbows or hands come off the wall during the entire movement. If you perform it correctly, the movement will be a bit hard at first, but it will become easier as your elasticity improves. Perform 2 sets of 10 reps.
#2. Hip Hinge with Hands Overhead
Perform a hip hinge (moving the hips through a complete flexion to extension with minimal knee bend) with your arms overhead to give your thoracolumbar fascia (a membrane seated in your posterior thorax and abdomen) a good stretch.
Hold the bottom position (seated hips) for 10 seconds. Perform 10 reps.
#3. Standing Horizontal Abduction with TRX or resistance band
The point of this movement is to strengthen your mid-back and shoulder blade muscles by opening up your chest and squeezing your shoulder blades together with the help of a TRX or a resistance band.
Make sure to keep your core tight and head and necked aligned all throughout the exercise and don’t flare your ribs out. Hold the final position for 10 seconds, then slowly lower your arms down. Perform 10 reps.
#4. Farmer’s Walk
The farmer’s walk is perhaps the best exercise for fixing bad posture since most people are forced to self-correct their posture when carrying something heavy in order to be able to complete the activity.
Take one relatively heavy kettlebell or dumbbell in each hand and keeping your back straight and shoulders back, walk by taking short, quick steps. Try to walk as fast as possible while minimizing any spinal movement for one minute, then take a short break and perform another walk.
#5. Bridge Hold
This great move will help you improve the endurance of your posterior muscles and strengthen your glutes at the same time. Lie on your back on the ground and bend the knees.
Slowly lift your pelvis up while keeping your back straight until your torso and thighs form a straight line. Hold the position for 90-120 seconds, then slowly lower yourself down and repeat the movement one more time. Once you’ve improved your endurance and flexibility enough, progress to a single-leg bridge hold for even better results.
Perform this routine two or three times per week and you should feel a big difference in terms of an improved strength, endurance and mobility of your back, shoulders and core muscles.
But fixing your posture is not only about strengthening the muscles involved in keeping your body straight – as we mentioned earlier, it also has a lot to do with your day-to-day habits. In fact, you could perform the best posture exercises all day long, but if you return to your old ways as soon as you walk out of the gym, you’ve been wasting your time exercising.
So in order to fortify the progress gained by these corrective exercises, you should also try to emphasize these posture-friendly habits in your everyday routine:
- Make sure you have proper lumbar support at your working desk and remind yourself to sit upright as often as you can. If it helps, write a note about it and stick it where you can see it at all times.
- In your car, set your rear view mirror so that you can only see it properly when you sit upright.
- When in the gym, make sure to perform all exercises with good form. This will improve your posture and reduce your risk of injury at the same time. Don’t trade the benefits of training with proper form for the short-lived benefits of completing more reps.
- Increase your posture awareness by trying to think more often about the way you hold your body when sitting, working, walking or communicating with others. Think of yourself as a competent and confident individual and then try to implement that attitude into your physical appearance, including standing fully upright with good posture. Standing tall and being relaxed will ultimately make you feel better about yourself and more comfortable in all kinds of social situations, so it’s definitely worth the effort.
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