POP QUIZ -- Are you slouching right now? Be honest! I have always struggled with maintaining proper posture throughout the day, and I know so many of you do too! Whether we are working at our computers for hours, looking at our phones, watching TV, or even carrying kids, it’s just too easy to relax and let our bodies slouch. (By the way, kids are the WORST on parent’s backs!!) But then our muscles become weak and unbalanced… and what do we get in return? Back pain. Ouch! Today I am sharing 5 easy posture exercises -- no equipment needed and anyone can do them to improve posture today!
5 Easy Posture Exercises
Posture is easily improved by strengthening the core through specific exercises and stretches that help you to hold your body in the proper positioning. By improving your posture, you help to alleviate back pain and slow down the effects of aging on your body! Start with a few repetitions of each movement (10 reps each, or 30 seconds each) and increase reps/time (20 reps or 60 seconds each) as you build strength and see your posture improving.
1. Child’s Pose to Cobra
This first exercise is more of an active stretch for your entire core. Sinking back into child’s pose stretches and lengthens your entire back. Then as you come up and forward into cobra, arch your back and open up your chest.
Remember to take slow, deep breaths and visualize your body lengthening and opening up with each movement.
2. Bird Dog
Begin on all fours with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Tighten your core and maintain balance as you reach one arm forward and the opposite leg back until both are straightened. Imagine your fingertips and toes reaching as far as possible in each direction, lengthening your body.
Keeping your core tight and with as little wobbling as possible, return to table top (on all fours) and repeat with the opposite arm and leg. Make sure you don’t arch your back or neck, keeping your head, neck, and spine in alignment.
Everyone’s favorite total body exercise! Or maybe not such a favorite haha. Love it or hate it, the plank (when done correctly) is a great core strengthener to help you sit and stand a little straighter!
Begin in a pushup position with hands directly under shoulders and legs straight back. Keep the abs drawn in and braced, as if preparing for someone to punch you in the stomach. Head, neck, spine, and legs should be in a straight line, as if a single string were being pulled through the top of your head and the bottom of your heels.
B R E A T H E. It’s easy to hold your breath while planking, so remind yourself to take slow breaths! Only plank as long as you can hold the proper positioning. If your hips start to sag or your booty moves up into the air, drop to your knees and plank there instead. Or you can alternate high plank with knee plank to give your body short rest times to build up strength and endurance.
Want more core exercises? Check out my blog post on 27 plank variations!
Going back into tabletop position (on all fours with hands under shoulders and knees under hips), draw in your core and arch your back up toward the ceiling. Feel your pubic bone pulling forward as your lower abs contract. Hold for a few seconds, then slowly release and lower your back into an arch.
Gently increase the arch, almost as if your tailbone could move closer to your upper back. Tighten your shoulder blades, increasing the tension in your back and opening your chest. Return to neutral tabletop and repeat.
5. Chest Opener/Scapular Retraction
This can be done anywhere, sitting or standing. It was one of the physical therapy exercises I was given to help with the forward rounding of my shoulders (caused by holding babies and toddlers all day long for years!). With arms raised and elbows at a 90 degree angle, gently pull your elbows slightly behind you. It should feel like you could squeeze a pencil between your shoulder blades. Hold for a few seconds, release, and repeat.
This can easily be done in line at the grocery store, while sitting at a red light, or right now as you read this. Just leave your arms down at your sides and nobody will even notice. (Go ahead. Do it. I’m waiting.) While you continue a few reps, because I know you’re doing it right now, imagine a string pulling your head a little higher. Just an inch. Tuck your chin in a bit (we all have that double chin, don’t worry), keeping your head over your spine to counteract the forward lean your head has when you’re looking at your phone.
Don’t you feel a little taller already?
Regularly including these exercises into your routine will soon result in obvious improvement of your posture and should alleviate some back pain caused by slouching. Not only that, imagining yourself sitting taller and standing straighter will make you look (and feel) more confident and strong!
Check out this video for a demo of these easy posture exercises!
I’ve also been using this UPRIGHT GO 2 to help improve my posture. It is a small device that attaches to your back to help remind you to sit or stand a little straighter. If you slouch for more than a few seconds, it gives a little vibration to remind you to correct your positioning. It’s actually really helpful for me, and I can tell I’m improving already! (affiliate link)
My husband, Arien, prefers a low-tech method of reminding him to not slouch while he works. He wears this posture correcting strap to help keep his shoulders back. (affiliate link)
I’d love to hear your feedback if you give these easy posture exercises a try! Drop a comment and let me know what you think!