Exercises to Fix Your Posture
When people look at you, one of the first things they notice is your posture. Your posture can either give off the impression of someone who is confident and in charge or someone who is weak and a loser. It leaves a strong first impression on other people. For some people, good posture may be as simple putting their shoulders back and standing up straight. However, doing certain exercises can help you naturally improve your posture.
WHAT CAUSES BAD POSTURE
In today’s age it’s very easy for our posture to become quite poor. We are always staring down at our phones or we are hunched over on our computer all day. Our bodies will start to naturally fall into that position from doing these things on a daily basis, it’s bound to happen that our posture will start to suffer. Naturally, other things can contribute to poor posture as well, but from the causes mentioned here, daily stretches and exercises can minimize bad posture and promote natural good posture!
Our back/shoulders naturally start to take a more round shape when we look down at our phones and computers all day. Even though rounded shoulders and bad posture can easily be from our daily routine it can also be caused by muscular imbalances such as tight/overpowered chest and weak shoulders/back area.
Image from http://www.strengthsensei.com
We’ll perform a quick test that will determine if we have rounded shoulders or not. The first test to perform is the “pencil test”. To perform this test follow these steps:
- In each hand hold a pencil (pen or any stick for that matter)
- Relax both arms as if you’re just standing like your normally would.
- Note your hand position.
If the pencil is facing forward / thumbs point forward, then you pass the test! However, if the pencils are facing inward / the back of your hands are pointing forward then you have rounded shoulders.
If you have rounded shoulders it can be because of a tight chest, weak back, or a product of daily activities. In your workout routine, I would recommend including deadlifts, dumbbells, or machine rows. These exercises are more back dominant and can drastically improve your posture overall. You can also include some stretches to fix this issue as well.
Requirements: A wall!
- Place your back up against a wall with your butt against the wall as well.
- Hold your hands up against the wall with your elbows and and back of your hand touching the wall. (As if a cop told you to put your hands up)
- While keeping your elbows and hands against the wall, bring your arms all the way up
- Bring your arms now back to the starting position and then repeat.
Do this for about 10 - 15 reps. I would also recommend doing this a 3 - 6 seconds up and 3 - 6 seconds down.
Requirements: Resistance Band
- Take a resistance band and hold it in both hands in front of you shoulder width apart and your thumbs pointing up.
- From there, slowly stretch the band out in front of you. With your thumbs pointing back. (Make sure you really feel the back of your shoulders contracting).
- Slowly retract back to the starting position and repeat
Do this for about 30 reps.
For both of these stretches, I would recommend incorporating them into your morning and night routine, and if you have time, during the afternoon. These moves need to be done consistently to get real success.
ANTERIOR PELVIC TILT/FORWARD HIP
Anterior pelvic tilt, or forward hips, are the shortening of the hip flexors and the lengthening of the hip extensors. This problem is caused by sedentary lifestyle and can lead to other annoying issues down the line. Even though you should be able to easily look into a mirror and be able to tell if you have anterior pelvic tilt, you can do the Thomas Test.
You can have someone help you perform the Thomas Test, I recommend getting a physical therapist to test you but you can also do a self assessment on yourself.
Requirements: An elevated, flat surface (table).
Steps to perform:
- Lay down on the flat surface with your legs hanging off the edge.
- Pull one leg up to your chest.
If the opposing lower thigh (the leg you’re not pulling to your chest) does not touch the table then you have anterior pelvic tilt. Again, I do recommend getting a physical therapist to perform the test on you.
Half Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
- Place your right knee on the ground.
- Place your left leg at a 90 degree angle in front of you.
- Push your hips forward and hold this stretch for 30 seconds.
- Switch leg positions and repeat.
- Lay on your back with your legs bent, feet flat on the floor, your hands by your side.
- Elevate your hips up until your body has formed a straight line with no bending inwards on your hips.
- Hold for about 10 - 15 seconds
Repeat this exercise for about 8 - 12 reps.
Requirements: Resistance Band
- Place resistance band above your knees.
- Lay on your side with your knees bent at a 45 degree in front of you.
- Keeping your knees at a 45 degree angle, lift and rotate your top leg in an “opening” fashion, all the way until your knee is pointing up.
- Bring your knee back down
Perform 20-30 reps on both sides
Having better posture is not only good for confidence but it’s good for our health and can help us avoid injuries. Rounded shoulders and anterior pelvic tilt are some of the more common things people deal with in terms of having bad posture. Doing compound movements like squats and deadlifts can help with the issues listed above, however, to really conquer these issues, stretching needs to be included to target specific muscle groups not engaged in other exercises. For best results, incorporate these moves into your daily routine. Try to do them at least 2 times a day.