Poor posture is one of the biggest contributors to back, neck, and shoulder pain. Often these pain points cause fatigue and distractions, while also increasing your risk of injury during workouts. However, if you improve your posture studies show you will also develop more strength, flexibility, and balance. This can also make you more aware of what muscles are engaging thus improving your workouts. To help you improve your posture, below are five of the best posture exercises you should do regularly.
1. Prayer Stretch
The first mobility and stretch exercise will help with rounded shoulders. The prayer stretch can help to straighten your back and pull your shoulders back. Ideally, you should complete 2 sets including 10 repetitions in each. To perform the prayer stretch follow these steps;
Sit on your knees, facing a raised surface like a chair, couch, or bench.
Place your elbows on the raised surface, and ensure your hips are above your knees.
Clasp your hand together above your head with your elbows at 90 degrees. Your head should be in line with your shoulders, face down. This is your starting position. Take a deep breath through your nose.
As you exhale, drop your head below the surface line, and move your clasped hands towards the middle of your back. Keep your hips, shoulders, and elbows in place. Arch your lower back if needed. Inhale through your nose as you hold the position.
Exhale and return to the starting position. Repeat.
2. Quadruped Stretch
The second exercise is designed to loosen your back through rotation. This will help your back relax into a more natural posture, and ease any back pain. The rotation helps open your chest while also stretching the middle of your back. You should perform 2 sets of 6 repetitions, inhale during the downwards motion and exhale during the way up.
Start by getting on all fours, with your knees under your hips and hands under your shoulders.
Tuck a pillow or foam roller between your legs – this will help prevent your knees from touching.
Place one hand on the back of your neck. Then try to touch your elbow to the wrist still on the ground. Your head should also turn towards the wrist. This is the starting position.
Push away from the floor using the hand on the ground, rotating the elbow, and head towards the ceiling.
Return to starting position and repeat.
3. Shoulder Dislocations
This exercise will stretch your upper back, and shoulder muscles. During this exercise avoid arching your back. To do this focus on tightening your core, or pulling in your stomach. Complete one set of 10 repetitions.
Stand with legs hip-width apart and squeeze your butt. Brace your core.
Using a stick, hold it in front of your body, palms facing backward. For extra stretching, hold behind you with palms facing forward.
Lift your arms towards your head. Make sure to hold your core tight and keep your arms straight. Hold for a moment before dropping your arms
Repeat. The height of your arms may vary, simply raise until you feel a deep stretch in your upper back.
4. Pull Aparts
Now that your back is fully relaxed, it’s time to activate and strengthen the muscles through targeted stretches. This will not only improve your posture but will also help you to maintain it without thinking. You should complete 2 sets of 10 repetitions.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, squeezing your butt and core.
Hold your arms out straight at shoulder level, making a T. Ensure that you keep your arms at this height throughout
Push your elbows backward, keeping your arms straight. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for 3 seconds. Ensure you do not lift your shoulders or arch your back.
Return your arms to the T position. Repeat.
This can also be done with a resistance band. Simply put your head through the band, so half is on your back and half is on your chest. Then, simply follow the instructions above.
This final exercise will make you more aware of the muscle groups within your back. Complete 3 sets of 6 repetitions.
Start by lying face down on the floor. Press your stomach into the floor and squeeze your butt.
Put your arms above your head in a Y position, thumbs pointing up.
Lift your hands an inch off the ground, and shrug your shoulders down from your ears. You should begin to feel the stretch.
Pull your elbows down towards your hips, moving your hands to shoulder height. Keep your hands raised an inch off the ground. Squeeze your upper back, and hold for 2 seconds in a W shape. You should now feel the mid and lower back muscles.
Move your arms straight out to the sides to create a T. Ensure you keep your shoulders away from your ears throughout. Hold for 2 seconds.
Slide your elbows back down into the W position.
Slide your hands back up to the Y position.
Repeat steps 3-7
The above exercises should be completed as a routine 2-3 times a week. You can also use this stretching routine to warm up before a bulking workout. The best posture exercises focus on both mobility and strength. This combination helps you to first loosen the muscles, and then activate the required muscles for better posture. This routine is key for everyone, especially if you regularly sit for long periods or experience back pain.