From working at a desk to watching TV or waiting for a bus, we’ve all been guilty of slouching from time to time. Bad posture can be the source of back, neck and shoulder pain, as well as leading to imbalances in your body that cause further pain or injury.
Bad posture can also affect your digestion, cardiovascular health and even mental wellbeing.
Along with making sure that you are getting good support from your office chair, sofa and mattress, there’s a number of exercises you can do to help prevent or combat the negative effects of bad posture.
Here are five exercises you could try to improve your posture, build stronger muscles and reduce the chance of injury.
1. Reverse plank bridge
Activates/stretches: middle trapezius, rhomboids, neck flexors, erectus spinae, pecs, neck extensors, front deltoids.
How to do it: sit with your knees bent and arms straight behind you, hands facing backwards then lift your hips and extend your spine, pushing your chest upwards. Lower your hips slightly then repeat.
Tips: keep arms straight, bring shoulder blades together, tuck your chin in.
2. Side-lying windmill
Activates/stretches: thoracic spine, middle trapezius, rhomboids, erectus spinae.
How to do it: lie on your side with your legs together and knees bent in line with your waist. Stretch both arms out to the same side as your legs then, keeping the top arm straight, lift it across your body towards the floor on the other side. Turn over and repeat on the other side.
Tips: legs, knees and feet should remain in line and together. Vary the exercise by running the hand along the floor, over the head and back into position in a circular motion.
3. Straight arm pullover on stability ball
Activates/stretches: thoracic spine, latissimus dorsai, triceps, pecs, abs.
How to do it: sit on the stability ball, holding one dumbbell, then roll forward keeping your knees bent and feet on the floor, until your shoulders and head are supported by the ball. Hold the dumbbell in both hands with slightly bent elbows, raise it up and lower it behind your head before bringing it back to 90 degrees.
Tips: ensure core is engaged, vary by using a weight in each hand.
4. Hip raises/glute bridge
Activates/stretches: gluteal muscles, hamstrings, tensor fasciae latae, abs.
How to do it: lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Arms should be straight out by your side. Squeeze your glutes and lift your hips up towards the ceiling, hold and repeat.
Tips: strong glutes will reduce stress on the spine, try to focus on using your glutes more than the hamstrings for this exercise. Add difficulty by holding a dumbbell in each hand against the stomach for a weighted hip thrust.
5. Shoulder shrugs
Activates/stretches: upper trapezius, levator scapulae, deltoid.
How to do it: stand with feet slightly apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing your body. Lift and lower your shoulders.
Tips: avoid arching your back or rolling your shoulders. Working with a professionally qualified personal trainer or fitness instructor will help you to achieve the best results, based on your fitness levels and customer profile.