You must be a fan of quick fixes, because that's exactly what this is. By improving your posture and aligning your body properly, you can manage your outward appearance. You'll even feel better! Poor posture is a very common problem with desk jobs, slouching over keyboards and looking down at cell phones and tablets. Time to strengthen those muscles that pull your posture together and learn what it feels like to be in your best alignment. In order to achieve this, you need to focus on the upper back, core, chest and posterior leg muscles like the glutes and calves. At the same time, you need to be able to relax anterior leg muscles like the quadriceps, even the hip flexors with good stretching. Check out these moves below to get started:
1. Chair Pose: This basic yoga pose will train your upper back muscles and core to work together. Stand with your feet under the hips or together, dip down and lean forward slightly, then raise the arms forward to continue the angle you've created with your torso. Draw the shoulder blades together. Keep reaching up and forward with the fingers. Breathe. See the pose here.
2. Seated Strict Press: With this exercise, you'll focus on the control and power of your core and lower back. The press itself will strengthen the shoulders. Sit on the edge of a bench or chair so the thighs are parallel with the floor. Bring the dumbbells to the top of your shoulders and use your arms and core to press them overhead. Do not arch the lower back, but if you can't help it, it's a sign the weights are too heavy. See more on the press here.
3. Superman: Use your body weight to add strength to your posterior muscles, both the upper and lower back while coordinating them with the core. Lie on your belly with arms and legs fully extended. Use your back muscles and glutes to lift the arms and legs up for a moment, then release with control. Check it out here or try it for 60 seconds now:
4. Upright Row with Resistance Band: Stand taller with the help of some upright rows. Step on the resistance band and set your feet right underneath your hips, then grab a handle with each hand. Pull the handles straight up your body and let the elbows point out to the sides. They should stop at your shoulders. This move will strengthen your upper back and train your shoulders to stay away form the ears. See more here.
5. Cat Cow: Show your spine some love with a little counter stretching. Start on all fours, then round the back, dropping your head and looking to your belly button. Let the shoulder blades pull apart. Reverse the curve of the spine by dipping into cat with an emphasized arch and look up to the ceiling. Move through these two slowly and don't forget to breathe! Check it out here.
6. Spiderman Stretch: Your hip flexors are a group of muscles that run from the top of your leg bones diagonally to the bottom of your spine. They support your posture and many other things, but can be quite stubborn. Try this stretch with your hands on the inside of the front leg, going deeper by placing the hands on the front thigh. It will also target your quadriceps, which when tight, will pull your posture forward. See more on the stretch here.
Go on to the next page to see more power posture stretches and exercises!
7. Pilates Sit-Up: Obviously, you'll use the core in this exercise, and you'll also use the hip flexors and back muscles to help coordinate the move. Start by sitting tall with your legs out in front of you. Roll the spine down, pulling the belly button into your back. Use your arms as momentum to rise. When you get to the top, you'll sit straight up again instead of leaning forward or keeping the back rounded. Try for 60 seconds right now with Skinny Mom founder, Brooke Griffin, or bookmark the page here.
8. Hip Crossover: A lot of tension seems to find its way to the lower back. Give it a good twist and release by lying on your back, arms out in a "T," and knees bent. You'll drop your knees to one side, keeping them together. It's really important to try to keep both shoulder blades on the floor. For a deeper twist, turn your head to the opposite direction. To warm the back, try slowly alternating sides without pausing, or you can extend the legs completely for more of a challenge. Get more details here.
9. Posterior Stretch: Tight hamstrings and a compressed lower back will certainly make you stand a little funny. Grab a chair or countertop, even a free spot on the wall, and walk the feet back. When you lean forward, you want your back to be straight, aligning your neck with the rest of the spine. You'll feel a nice deep stretch in the back of your legs and a release in the back. You might also notice a decrease in pressure between the shoulder blades. Go ahead and hang out here for a while; rock the hips back and forth to open up everything. See more on the stretch here.
10. Single Leg Calf Raise: Strong stems are important for good posture, so strengthen them with simple calf raises. Try one leg at a time by crossing the opposite ankle behind the working leg and find something to balance yourself. Roll through to the ball of the foot and push the crown of your head straight up. Think about going up rather than forward. Learn more about it here.
11. Standing Reverse Fly with Dumbbells: Strong upper back muscles help encase the spine and lift the chest. Grab some weights, put your feet under your hips, slightly bend the knees and lean forward with a straight back. Keep the weights close to your legs at the bottom and with soft elbows, exhale and lift the weights out to the sides. Your focus shoulder be on the shoulder blades coming together at the top of the movement. If you straighten your elbows, the exercise changes and targets the arms more, so keep a nice, soft bend! See it here.
Disclaimer: The content of the Skinny Mom blog and website, including text, graphics and images, are for informational purposes only. The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have. Do not disregard professional medical advice. Not all exercises are suitable for everyone.