Exercises to Improve Your Posture
Who wants to stand taller and look (and feel) more confident? How about getting rid of a whole slew of *preventable* chronic aches and pains? Having good posture will give you all this and more. Plus, you may even have the chance to keep man walking tall in our evolution…
In our last post, Why Pay Attention to Posture? we mentioned how our current Western lifestyle of driving and sitting in front of our screens (computer, TV, phones, tablets, etc.) is concerning proactive personal trainers. Our poor postures are leading to chronic aches and pains (read How Modern Life Leads to Chronic Pain) and an overall `stooped’ society (shoulders rounded forward).
All of which could potentially be inherited by future generations (read our last post to see a probable path for the evolution of man…)!
Before you laugh at this theory, keep in mind that our ancestors walked everywhere. They walked and walked and walked some more in order to feed themselves. And sometimes they ran – when they were hunting or being hunted. This repetitive behaviour helped man evolve from an ape-like humanoid to homo sapiens.
5 Postural Exercises
Regardless of the potential evolutionary side-effects from a screened-society, poor posture is doing damage to us NOW. Headaches, jaw aches, shoulder, back and neck pain, lung capacity reduction, and gastrointestinal pain are some of the negative effects.
We gave you a few exercises in Think “Prehab” Instead of Rehab to improve your stability and start improving your posture. Today we’d like to share several postural exercises to help you combat the negative effects of our seated society.
- Bench Dips with Shoulder Shrugs. In this exercise, you will build onto the well-known bench dip (click here for proper form – video). Perform your bench dip, working mainly your triceps by lowering your butt towards the floor, then straighten elbows to return to your starting position. With your arms straightened, shrug your shoulders up, and then back down. Repeat the bench dip with shoulder shrug to complete your set.
- Wall Angels. Stand with your back and arms against a wall, raise your arms slightly, bending your elbows at a 45 degree angle, still touching the wall. Keep your shoulders down while you slowly raise your hands (keeping your arms against the wall) towards the ceiling by straightening your elbows as much as you can. (click here for proper wall angel technique.)
- Scap Pushups. This exercise will work the scapular muscles (the ones under your armpit). Beginners can stay on their knees, advanced will go into the top of a pushup position, arms straight. Now squeeze your shoulders blades together. Let your blades relax and fall down. Repeat. (click here for a video displaying proper scap pushups.)
- Wide Grip Row. You can do this exercise (which targets the mid back muscles) with a cable machine or resistance bands. With arms straight out at shoulder level, place a wide grip on the bar or band. Contract muscles by squeezing your shoulder muscles together; turn off the neck muscles, use only the back. With the band, you’ll keep your elbows straight and stretch the band out to the sides. With the bar, bend your elbows to touch your chest (click here for a video on correct wide grip cable row.)
- Chest Stretches (daily). Besides strengthening the muscles we neglect through repetitive hunching, we want to stretch their opposing muscles, the ones we’ve shortened and tightened with overuse. One example of a chest stretch: stand in front of a wall with one of your arms out-stretched against the wall, shoulder height. Keep your shoulder away from your ear and turn your body so that you feel a slight stretch in your pectoral muscles. Repeat on the other side. Never stretch to the point of pain and always stretch your muscles when they are warmed up. There are many stretches you can do to improve your posture. Here are 6 yoga poses to prevent rounded shoulders.
You can find 9 more postural exercises, plus 3 stretches, from T-Nation.com on their blog. And to help you out further, here’s a WikiHow article to check out: http://www.wikihow.com/Improve-Your-Posture.
The more we sit, the more postural exercises we need to do to prevent chronic aches and pains now, and from becoming hunchback later in life. Poor posture only get worse and harder to correct overtime when it’s neglected. Oh! And don’t forget to work your core, which will also help improve your posture.
Do you have any postural exercises that you do on a regular basis?