10 Exercises to Improve Posture - Rachel Trotta, CPT/WFS/FNS/TES  

10 Exercises to Improve Posture

10 Exercises to Improve Posture

If you’re spending a lot of time sitting down and working at your computer, then you may find that you experience new aches and pains – at any age! Exercises to improve posture can help significantly to mitigate these discomforts.

You’ve probably noticed that your tension centers in two main areas:

  • Your neck, shoulders, and upper back
  • Your lower back, hips, and buttocks

Plus, if you have a predisposition to certain conditions like sciatica, you may find that sitting for long periods of time causes a flare-up.

In today’s blog post, I’m going to give you 10 exercises that you can do at home to relieve pain in these common areas of tension. These easy moves will not only reduce discomfort and help you get stronger, but will also give you the boost of physical and mental energy that you need during your work day!

But first, here are three tips to help prevent the tightness in the first place:

Tip #1: Set a timer so you get up and move around every half hour.

This doesn’t mean you need to get up and go for an actual walk. Think just 30 seconds of movement – stand up, stretch from side to side, do a bit of marching in place, and then sit back down to resume work.

Tip #2: Don’t cross your legs while sitting.

Sit with both feet evenly on the floor. Working with your legs crossed automatically puts your body in an unnatural, asymmetrical position, pulling your pelvis out of alignment. And once that important bone structure is out of whack, the whole kinetic chain tends to follow, creating unevenness and tension.

Tip #3: Take shifts alternating sitting and standing.

If you can move your laptop to a higher surface, like a tall table or counter, take “standing breaks” to complete a task.

Obviously, if you have a treadmill at home where you could set up a laptop and get work in while meandering at 2 mph, that would be ideal. But most of us don’t have that (although it’s on my dream list!), so the next best alternative is to take some working shifts standing.

For example, if you know you need to spend 30 minutes on e-mails, change your work station to be temporarily at a tall countertop or table to complete that task. Then, you can go back to sitting.

And now… the exercises!

10 Exercises to Improve Posture and Reduce Muscle Tension

Below, I’ve listed all 10 exercises. Once you’ve been through all 10 videos to get the lay of the land, I’ve made a small workout routine at the bottom of this page that you could use during your work day – it only takes 10 minutes!

Exercise #1: Runner’s Stretch

This is an incredible stretch for opening up the chest (which tends to get very “closed” when sitting at a computer). Your upper back and lower back will get stretched and feel great.

Exercise #2: Standing Piriformis Stretch

This stretch feels wonderful on the hips, especially if you’re prone to sciatica. Make sure to keep the raised foot flexed (meaning, pull the toes back toward the knee using your shin muscle).

Exercise #3: Hip Flexor Stretch

If your hips get tired and tight, this subtle exercise will help to stretch out the fronts of your thighs.

Exercise #5: Pigeon Stretch

This is another wonderful stretch for the hips that feels great if you suffer from sciatica or piriformis syndrome.

Exercise #5: Hip Warmup

Be sure to hinge your hips backwards, keeping your back neutral. In other words, you shouldn’t feel this in your low back. This is a good mobility exercise to keep your hips flexible.

Exercise #6: Scapular Push-Ups

Make sure to keep your arms straight, your lower back neutral, and your core engaged. The only thing that should really be moving is your upper back, with the shoulder blades squeezing together and then pushing up and apart. This is a good exercise to strengthen the upper back and scapulae, which can greatly help to reduce shoulder tension.

Exercise #7: Bridges

Make sure your feet stay close enough to your body, and really push through your heels. This exercise really helps with lower back pain or discomforts like sciatica – a primary reason that many people develop lower back pain is weakened glutes. Exercises like this help to “wake up” and strengthen the glutes.

Exercise #8: Downward Dog

Think of using very active shoulders, and keeping your back extremely neutral. This stretch feels amazing all over – it helps to warm up and stretch your shoulders, relaxes your lower back, and gives a gentle stretch to the backs of the legs and calves.

Exercise #9: Chair Pose

To maximize the postural benefits of this exercise, go beyond the squat hold and sweep the arms upward for chair pose. This can help with postural issues in the shoulders and upper back, reducing tension.

Exercise #10: IYT

Make sure to stay facing downward for this exercise – resist the temptation to turn the head to one side or to look up. Keep the back of the neck very neutral. This is another fantastic exercise for the shoulders, training your posture to be taller and straighter with stronger scapulae.

10-Minute Sample Workout

This workout utilizes all of the moves from above in a quick, seamless fashion – you don’t have to do lots of repetitions, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly it’s over.

Just look over the exercises above to make sure you understand which exercise goes by which name, set a timer, and get started!

  • Hip Warmup – 20 seconds
  • Rest 10 seconds
  • Runner’s Lunge – 50 seconds right, 50 seconds left
  • Rest 10 seconds
  • Pigeon Stretch – 50 seconds right, 50 seconds left
  • Rest 10 seconds
  • Chair Pose – 20 seconds
  • Rest 10 seconds
  • Scapular Push-Ups – 20 seconds
  • Rest 10 seconds
  • Bridges – 50 seconds
  • Rest 10 seconds
  • IYT – 50 seconds
  • Rest 10 seconds
  • Downward Dog – 20 seconds
  • Rest 10 seconds
  • Hip Flexor Stretch – 50 seconds right, 50 seconds left

Other Resources for Working from Home

Over the last few weeks, lots of us have been cooped up during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some additional ideas to help you stay healthy and happy at home:

If you’re interested in using some of your extra time to dive deep into your health goals, I am currently accepting online coaching clients. Click below to learn more about the options and special discounts I’m currently offering:

Need more help, or someone to talk to? Health isn’t just fitness – it encompasses the physical, mental, and emotional. Explore BetterHelp’s options during the Coronavirus Quarantine.

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