We’ve all been told to “sit up straight” or have been lectured for sloppy, hunched-over posture while standing or sitting. While maintaining proper posture isn’t always the easiest or most comfortable, proper posture improves blood flow, helps keep nerves and blood vessels healthy, and supports your muscles, ligaments, and tendons. If you find yourself regularly slouching or struggling with neck and back pain these simple balance-specific exercises can help address posture issues by loosening tight muscles and building strength where it counts.
This popular stretch helps explore the range of motion in your shoulders by stretching your arms above your head. It is also great at lengthening and stretching the spine after years of slouched posture.
- Start on your hands and knees, knees shoulder-width apart
- Keeping the bottom of your feet faced upwards, touch your big toes together
- Crawl your hands forward and extend them straight forwards or drape them at your sides
- Slowly drop your hips back to rest on your heels
- Rest your forehead on the floor
- Hold the pose for 5 to 10 deep breaths
In addition to stretching your hips and legs, this standing stretch relieves tension in your hamstrings, glutes, and spine. During this stretch, you should feel the entire backside of your body opening up and lengthening.
- Stand with your big toes touching and heels slightly apart
- Fold forward at your hips and let your arms hang towards the floor
- Slightly bend your knees, soften up your hip joints, and allow your spine to lengthen
- Tuck your chin into your chest and allow your head to hang towards the floor
- Hold the pose for up to a minute
This stretch is especially useful if you spend most of your day sitting as it helps open and stretch your chest muscles. In addition to strengthening chest muscles, this exercise will also help you stand taller.
- Stand with your feet about hip-width apart
- Bring your arms behind you and interlace your fingers with your palms pressing together
- Keeping your head, neck, and spine in one line, inhale as you lift your chest toward the ceiling while bringing your hands toward the floor
- Hold the pose for 5 deep breaths
- Repeat stretch up to 10 times
Helping to strengthen hamstrings, glutes, and shoulders, the high plank also relieves pain and stiffness while developing balance and strength in your core and back.
- On all fours, straighten your legs, lift your heels, and raise your hips
- Straighten your back while engaging your abdominal, arm, and leg muscles
- Lengthen the back of your neck and look down towards the floor
- Focus on keeping chest open and shoulders back
- Hold this pose for up to a minute at a time
While these are a few great stretches for strengthening muscles and loosening tightness to help work towards better posture, there are many more out there to help you work towards your health and fitness goals. The best thing to do is to find exercises and routines that work best for your lifestyle and work on building them into your routine.