Fitness Training

Improve Posture with these Everyday Core Exercise Tips

Good posture makes you look leaner, more confident and, more importantly, helps prevent chronic pain and potential injuries. Did you know everyday you are presented with countless opportunities to strengthen your core? Keep reading for easy-to-fit-in-everyday core exercise hacks!

Let’s start this article with defining what good posture looks like – because this is what you’re aiming for and how you will achieve it through the following hacks. With consistent core exercise, your body will naturally develop proper posture.

What Does Proper Posture Look Like?

Proper posture is the result of a correctly aligned body related to the natural and intended position of the muscles and skeletal system. When standing, an aligned body has stacked joints, the ears are above the shoulders, ribs over the hips and the hips are over the heels. The pelvis and spine are in a neutral position.

When your body is misaligned, it is the result of imbalances created by overactive and underactive muscles. To consciously achieve good posture (you must repeatedly do this until your underutilized muscles are built and your overactive muscles are stretched, thus recreating proper posture):

  1. Imagine a string that starts at the base of your spine, follows up your spinal column and straight out your head. This should result in the lengthening of the back of your neck with your chin slightly tucked in.
  2. Draw the shoulders back and down, and slightly tensing the shoulder blades together.
  3. Flex your abdominal muscles by drawing your belly button in toward your back or better yet, recreate the abdominal flexion you experience while coughing, yelling or having a good old belly laugh. This forms a neutral position in your pelvis and spine. You may find that you also have to slightly flex some of your butt muscles to achieve this neutral position.

It’s difficult for some people to feel their abdominal muscles in flexion. Queue the abs by placing your hands on them while you attempt different ways to flex your abdominal muscles.

People with tight hips or tall hip flexors may also have difficulty feeling flexed abs. If you’re one of these people, you need to open your hips up through stretches. Here are 4 hip flexor stretches from Stack.com to do on a regular basis.

Core Exercises You Can Do Everyday

By consciously bringing your body into proper posture, you are activating and strengthening underactive muscles that caused the misalignment. Through repetition, you will eventually correct the imbalances!

Here are several examples of how you can make use of your time everyday to work on your posture:

  • Sitting at your office desk. Create proper posture as best as you can while you read and respond to 10 emails.
  • While driving. Check the clock and hold the proper posture position for 10 minutes, or if you’re just beginning, during an entire red light or one whole song on the radio.
  • While commuting on the bus or streetcar.  Try practicing proper posture for 5 stops in a row.
  • Doing the dishes. Unless you have a dishwasher, hold perfect posture while you wash the dishes.
  • While you walk. Park your car as far away as possible from the door and hold perfect posture on your gaunt to the entrance of the building.

Keep challenging yourself to hold perfect posture for longer periods of time. Set a timer, if you wish, and increase that time every week.

Other Opportunities to Work on Your Core & Improve Posture

  1. Integrate floor exercises (like the plank and crunches) into your workout routine. In the low plank position, your shoulders are aligned with your elbows, heels above the toes, hips are aligned with the shoulder blades (so keep that butt down!), your abs are tensed and all your muscles are engaged and recruited together to hold the pose. Read Exercises to Improve Your Posture and 7 Core Exercises for more ideas.
  2. Make sure to incorporate compound movements in your workouts. For instance, your core must be engaged when you’re doing dead-lifts, squats and lunges. Try to stay away from the machines because you want to be working your stabilizer muscles as well, which is achieved when you use bands, body weight or free weights.
  3. Consciously flex during all your exercises. For instance, when you’re doing a push-up, perform it slowly and in proper posture. Read this article for more reasons to Slow Down to Improve: Technique vs. Weight/Speed.

We hope this article has inspired you to be more conscious of your posture and willing to improve it by taking every opportunity throughout the day to strengthen your core. If you haven’t yet, you might appreciate reading Why Pay Attention to Posture?

Do you have any core exercise hacks you’d like to share with other G Force readers?

 

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