Exercises To Improve Posture

Posted on May 31, 2019

Written By: Megan DeLuca, MEd, CPT
PTS Fitness Blogger

To put it simply, poor posture affects our long-term health. Over time, it causes bone
and joint issues that jeopardize our quality of life. Poor posture can lead to debilitating
headaches, injury, and circulatory issues. From mild to severe pain and discomfort to
other health concerns caused by medication use, slouching can be the underlying issue
that if remedied early can save a lot of agonies later.
The human body is designed to walk and run, not sit in a folded, rounded forward
position for hours. Problems begin when we work the deep core muscles balancing our
body in only a small part of their full range of motion. Unused muscles adapt and
atrophy, and over time our posture weakens. If you spend a big chunk of your life sitting,
you must actively do something to counteract your habits, or your posture will suffer.
The best way to improve your posture is to focus on exercises that strengthen your core
– the abdominal and low back muscles that connect to your spine and pelvis. Some of
these muscles move your torso by flexing, extending, or rotating your spine. Others
stabilize your pelvis and spine in a natural, neutral position. Better posture takes
practice and with a bit of guidance, you’ll see and feel the benefits for years to come.
Posture Exercises
Make these posture-boosting exercises a regular part of your routine. Remember to
exhale strongly and pull in your core muscles as you work.
1. Core Stabilizer: Single Leg Extension
 Why It’s Good for You: This move trains your core muscles to work together to
stabilize your pelvis.
 Starting Position: Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor,
and hands behind your head. Press your low back into the floor, and curl your
head up off the floor.
 The Move: Exhale strongly and pull your abdominal muscles in tight and up
toward your spine. Slowly pull one knee into your chest, keeping your low back
pressed to the floor while extending your other leg straight at about a 45-degree
angle off the floor. Keep your abdominals pulled in tight and your low back on the
floor. If your low back arches off the floor, extend your leg higher toward the
ceiling. Switch legs. Start with 5 to 10 extensions on each side.
 Up the Intensity: Pull both knees into your chest, then extend both legs straight
at about a 45-degree angle, using your core to keep your low back on the floor.
Or, as you extend your legs, extend both arms overhead, reaching in the
opposite direction from your legs.
2. The New Crunch
 Why It’s Good for You: Also called a “curl-up,” this exercise works the rectus
abdominal (the six-pack muscle) and obliques (which run diagonally around your
waist and rotate your torso).

 Starting Position: Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor.
Press your low back into the floor. Place your hands behind your head, or reach
your arms toward your knees if it doesn’t create too much tension in your neck.
 The Move: Exhale strongly and pull your abdominal muscles in tight and up toward
your spine. Curl your head and shoulders slowly off the floor. Hold, then slowly lower
back down. Repeat 3 times.
 Up to the Intensity: Extend one leg straight at a 45-degree angle toward the ceiling.
Or hold both legs off the floor, knees bent, with your shins parallel to the floor.
3. Pilates Roll-Up / Yoga Sit-Up
 Why It’s Good for You: This move works the rectus abdominis, obliques, and
transverse abdominis (the deepest core muscles that wrap around your waist like
a corset and pull your abdomen inward and upward toward your spine.)
 Starting Position: Lie on your back with your legs straight, your feet flexed, and
your arms reaching overhead on the floor. Press your low back into the floor.
 The Move: Exhale strongly and pull your abdominal muscles in tight and up
toward your spine. Roll up in slow motion, reaching your arms off the floor, then
your shoulders and head, rolling up one vertebra at a time until you’ re sitting up
with your abdominals still pulled in. Slowly roll back down. Repeat 3 to 5 times,
adding more as your core gets stronger.
 Up to the Intensity: Cross your arms over your chest as you roll up.
4. Crossover
 Why It’s Good for You: This exercise works all the core muscles, focusing on
the obliques.
 Starting Position: Lie on your back with your hands behind your head, your
chest lifted off the floor, knees pulled into your chest. Keep your low back
pressed into the floor.
 The Move: Exhale strongly and pull your abdominal muscles in tight and up
toward your spine. Pull one knee into your chest while extending your other leg
straight and rotating your torso toward the bent knee. Slowly switch legs, pulling
the other knee into your chest and rotating your torso toward it while extending
the opposite leg off the floor. Repeat 5 to 10 times, adding more as your core
gets stronger.
 Up to the Intensity: The closer your straight leg is to the floor, the harder the work
for your core. Try extending your leg just inches off the floor, making sure your
lower back stays on the floor.
5. Cobra Pose: Back Extension
 Why It’s Good for You: This move strengthens the erector spinae (the back
muscles that extend your spine and prevent slouching) and other low back
muscles.
 Starting Position: Lie on your stomach with palms flat on the floor near your
ribs. Extend your legs straight behind you, and press the tops of your feet into the
floor.

 The Move: Exhale strongly and pull your abdominal muscles in tight and up
toward your spine. Lengthen out through your spine and slowly raise your head
and chest off the floor, using only your back muscles. Do not push down into your
arms to press up. Keep your hip bones on the floor, and gaze down at the floor to
relax your neck muscles. Slowly lower back down. Repeat 3 to 5 times, adding
more as your lower back gets stronger
 Up to the Intensity: Reach your arms up above your head. Keep your elbows
straight.
6. Plank Pose
 Why It’s Good for You: This exercise strengthens the obliques and transverse
abdominis, as well as your shoulder and back muscles.
 Starting Position: Begin on your hands and knees with your palms under your
shoulders. Extend both legs straight behind you, toes tucked under, into a
position like the top of a pushup. Pull your abdominal muscles in tight to prevent
a ” sway back,” and gaze down at the floor.
 The Move: Hold the plank until you start feeling fatigued. Rest and then repeat.
Keep your abdominals pulled in tight and up to your low back doesn’t sag as you
exhale.
 Up to the Intensity: Balance on your forearms instead of your hands and squeeze
your glutes.
Tips and Precautions
 Pull your abdominal muscles in tight and up toward your spine as you exercise.
 Work with slow, controlled movements, breathing evenly, without holding your
breath.
 Tailor your number of repetitions and sets to your current level of core fitness.
 If you have mild back pain, core-strengthening exercises may improve posture,
ease symptoms, and prevent future pain.
 If you have severe back pain or injury, are out of shape, or have any medical
problems, talk to your doctor before you start any exercise program. Some
exercises may not be recommended.
 Stop doing any activity that causes pain or makes the pain worse.