What back exercise can I do to help improve my posture?

A fantastic back exercise that can help to improve your posture is the ball cobra.  Perform the ball cobra exercise by following the technique described below.  Lie face down with a stability ball under the mid-section, feet pointed toward the floor and legs straight. Extend the arms out in front of the ball, making sure to keep the elbows straight.  Next, draw-in the belly button and squeeze the butt muscles while pinching the shoulder blades together and down in order to bring the arms around to the side of the body.  Slowly return the arms to in front of body, and repeat the above sequence for the desired number of repetitions.  This exercise is great for improving posture because it places the body in the exact opposite position that most people tend to exhibit, which is characterized by rounded and elevated shoulders along with a forward head carriage.  Alternatively, this exercise can be done standing in a bent over position with some light tubing or dumbbells.
If your posture is poor its typically the result of the muscles be unbalanced. Meaning the muscles on one side of the joint have become shortened (or tight) while the other side has become lengthened (or stretched out). Therefore, you will want to address both issues to correct the problem. Here is an example:

First start by stretching the chest muscles, a Standing Doorway Pectoral Stretch is a great one.

1. Stand with forearm in vertical position on the door frame; elbow and shoulder bent at 90-degree angle;
2. Place feet in stagger stance position; back leg is same side as chest muscle being stretched.

3. Slowly shift weight forward until stretch felt in front of shoulder and chest; hold 30 seconds

Then perform a Standing Cobra


1.  Stand with your feet pointed straight ahead, draw in your navel and tuck your chin. 

2.  Bend at your waist until your chest is at a 45-degree angle to the ground. 

3.  Extend both of your arms and let them hang in front of your body with a dumbbell in each hand. 


4.  Keeping your elbows straight, bring your arms to the sides of your body in a circular pattern by pinching your shoulder blades together and down.  Hold and then return to the starting position. 

Poor posture when not related to issues such as scoliosis is generally a muscular issue that can be significantly improved with exercise.  Generally speaking there are a few common issues excessive forward head carriage, rounded shoulders, excessive lordosis of the lower back (sway back), etc.  These problems are resolved in different ways but for a simple approach start by strengthening your core.  Typically speaking a weakened core contributes to many of the postural issues that we deal with and simply strengthening the weakened abdominal muscles will help improve overall posture and postural control.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.