5 Exercises That Will Help You Ditch Your Bad Posture For Good
The vast majority of us could afford to make some improvements in the posture department. And honestly, we’re not surprised, considering that we’re chair-bound at our desk jobs for at least 40 hours each week. Even the most dedicated yogis who work in office spaces have to be intentional about how they sit and type. But that doesn’t mean good posture is out of reach.
If you work in a traditional office without access to a standing desk (or a more ergonomic setup in general), giving some posture-focused exercises a try could be an excellent way to relieve “tech neck” symptoms, square off those rounded shoulders, and ditch lower back and stiff hip pain. And thanks to Exercises for Perfect Posture, a new book from William Smith, M.S., Keith Burns, M.S. and Christopher Volgraf, we’ve found our five favorite workout moves that benefit every component of our alignment (not to mention our workout goals). Add these exercises to your weekly routine, and you’ll notice an improvement in your posture in no time.
1. Overhead Squat
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and place your hands behind your head so that your elbows extend out to the sides and your shoulder blades contract. Lower down into the squat position, keeping your core engaged, your spine neutral and the majority of your weight in your heels. (If you can’t maintain this alignment, don’t go into as deep of a squat at first.) When you’re ready, return to the standing position to complete one rep. Complete three sets of 10-15 reps.
2. Dumbbell Row
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Gently bend your knees as you hinge forward from your hips, engaging your core and maintaining a neutral spine. Let your arms hang down in front of you. Now, at the same time, bring both dumbbells up underneath your armpits, aligning with the sides of your torso so you can feel the contraction of your shoulder blades. Slowly release them back down to complete one rep. Do three sets of 10-15 reps.
3. Reverse Lunge to Overhead Press
Start by standing tall with your feet together and a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height with your elbows bent. Reach your right foot behind you and bend your left knee to lower into the lunge. While in the lunge, extend your right hand upward, pressing the dumbbell toward the ceiling and bring it back down toward your shoulder. Return to standing to complete one rep. Perform a set of 10 reps before switching sides, and then repeat the entire exercise circuit twice more.
4. Bear Crawls
Grab a stability ball and sit on it with a neutral spine. Bring your hands to the edges of your hips so that your fingers find the crests of your pelvic bones. When you’re ready, slowly alternate between tilting your pelvis forward (anteriorly) and tilting your pelvis back (posteriorly). Focus on the mind-body connection here to learn how this seemingly small articulation affects the alignment of the lower back. Tilt forward and backward 10 times each, and then repeat the full exercise two more times.
There’s plenty more where these came from — especially if you’re hoping to address a particular problem area in your posture. Sometimes, you need to focus on your weakest area before you can move onto the integrated exercises above. If neck pain and headaches ruin your days or hip stiffness leaves the nerves in your legs tingling, you’re better off prioritizing those problems first. And the book offers plenty of solutions to these posture-related struggles.