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Ann touched on it but the number one exercise for improving posture is the drawing-in maneuver. Simply lie on your back and pull your belly button back to your spine and start off holding for 10 seconds for about 5 to 10 reps. Gradually increase the amount of time you hold.
Then start doing this during any exercise you do. The key is to draw in and bring air into your lungs at the same time and hold that positioning. What you will notice is the spine naturally will extended all the way up to your neck and the shoulder blades will retract. This positioning if held during exercise will put your body into greater natural posture and greatly reduce the risk of injuries.
Injuries generally will be caused from using a secondary or stabilizing muscle too much and putting too much stress on a muscle that can not handle the load. Improving posture by this simple technique can greatly reduce the amount of stress to secondary and stabilizing muscles and put the emphasis on the major muscle for that movement.
Slumping is usually due to a weak back body and lack of core strength, coupled with the tendency to bend forward more than we extend backwards. One way to strengthen the back and counter the slump is to incorporate back bends into your exercise program. Back bends strengthen the back body and open the front body. One of my favorite back bends is bridge pose.
In today's world where most of us spend a lot of time sitting at a computer all day, it is very easy to end up with muscle imbalances, which may cause poor posture. Flexibility training as well as core training are essential when it comes to correcting muscle imbalances and improving posture. Some of the areas that need to be stretched most often include the latisimus dorsi, hamstrings, hip flexors and calves. Some excellent exercises to improve core strength and flexibility include:
- Foam roll (SMR) thoracic spine, hamstrings, inner/outer thighs, and calves
- Pec stretches
- Latisimus Dorsi stretches
- Hip Flexor stretches
- Neck Stretches
- Lateral Tube Walk
- Ball Cobra
- Squat to Row
- Ball Back Extension
- Balance exercises such as a single-leg squat, curl to press
When performing balance exercises, be sure to draw-in your belly button, and squeeze your glutes. Keeping your stabilizers muscles tight will aide in keeping your balance as you perform the moves.
You can actually stand taller and straighter by doing just one posture-improving move. In this video, watch as Dr. Oz guest and fitness expert Jorge Cruise demonstrates this super exercise.
The best way to improve posture is to break up repetitive habitual movements. For example, if you are sitting at a desk all day, be sure to get up every couple of hours and stretch. However, two great exercises that can improve posture are the Ball Combo and chin tucks. To perform the ball combo lie face down on the ball and extend your arms, in line with your body as if you’re making a Y. Next, slowly move your hands down towards your backside, and once there, hold this position for one count. Then, move your hands all the way down, towards your feet. Once there, hold for a count, and then slowly move back up to the starting position. Repeat this for 12-15 repetitions and be sure to focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together as you’re performing this exercise.
Another great exercise is chin tucks. To perform this exercise, sit with your back next to a wall. Slowly attempt to push the back of your head into the wall. Keep your head straight and be sure you do not bend your head forward or backward. Hold in this position for 3-5 seconds and release. Repeat this for 12 repetitions.
Poor posture over time can cause ill effects on the Kinetic chain( nervous, muscular and skeletal systems)
- spinal dysfunction
- joint and disc degeneration
- rounded shoulders resulting in shoulder pain
- protruding abdomen
- muscular imbalances
- nerve compression
- forward positioning of the head
- Back pain
Strong back, leg, neck, and abdomin muscles will improve your posture. Exercises like squats, cobras, leg presses, deadlifts, shoulder presses, crunches, and rows are helpful. Do strength exercises three times a week, working up to 12 to 20 reps and 2 to 3 sets. Another good exercise is simply pulling your neck back. Stand against a wall and pull your neck back against the wall while maintaining a level chin. Do not tilt your head up or down stay neutral. Hold the head back for 5 to 10 seconds, increasing the time as your neck muscles get stronger. When sitting make sure not to slouch keep your back straight and shoulders back. While at home on your computer sit on a stability ball this will force you to have good posture and engage stability muscles to balance.
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.