We’d all like the regal posture of a ballerina. Not only does good posture look nice, it also eases muscle tension, promotes greater energy, and creates a taller, slimmer appearance. The good news is that you can improve your posture with exercise.
A Strong Core
WebMD recommends exercises that strengthen your core as the foundation of any posture-improving exercise regimen. Your core consists of your lower abdominal and lower back muscles connecting to your pelvis and spine. Sit ups are an example of an exercise that strengthens your core. Yoga and Pilates are other types of exercise that focus on building a strong core with gentle movements. The American Heart Association recommends doing core workouts at least twice weekly for best results.
One benefit of strengthening your core, besides improving your posture, is that it often leads to less back pain, because there is a large and complex group of muscles that work together to support the spine. Thirty-one million Americans report some degree of back pain, so addressing the issue through exercise is a good idea for most everyone.
Your posture is dependent on your core’s strength. Your core is made up of several types of muscles:
- Abdominal muscles run vertically down your stomach. These helpes to flex and rotate the trunk. These are the muscles you think of when you see a “six pack.”
- Oblique muscles run diagonally around your waist and allow your body to twist, mostly likely to rotate and side bend the trunk. These muscles contribute to spinal stability.
- Your deepest abdominal muscles surround your mid-section like a corset, pulling your abdomen inward and upward to compress abdominal wall and provide core stabilization.
- Back muscles support your spine and work with the abdominal muscles.
Exercises for Better Posture
Ask your doctor for specific exercises to benefit your unique needs. For generally improving posture, try core-strengthening exercises such as planks, crunches, or Pilates roll-ups.
Better Posture in the Office
Many of us get a little lazy at work and end up slouching at our desks. When you sit at a desk all day, your muscles work hard to hold your spine up. Releasing tension from those muscles and allowing them to stretch takes a lot of pressure off the spine, and it’s energizing as well.
Try these exercise to sit up straighter, taller, and more comfortably:
- Seated Spinal Twist – Place both feet flat on the floor and contact the abs and gently twist the torse towards the right, using your hands to help deepend the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
- Forward Bend – Sit on the front edge of your seat with your feet about twelve inches apart. Bend forward and place your palms on top of your feet or on the floor. Relax your head and neck, breathing normally through your nose.
- Shoulder Rolls – Raise your shoulders to your ears as you inhale. Exhale, bringing your shoulders down and pulling your shoulder blades back.
There are even products available to help remind you to keep proper posture. For instance, a back support does more than just support your back: the criss-cross style straps remind you to keep your shoulders back.
In the office or at the desk, a proper seat cushion is like orthotics for your whole body. It leads your pelvis into the proper position to align your spine correctly. Making sure that your seat is ergonomically correct and that you are sitting properly will lead to improved posture and improved back strength.