Exercises to Improve Posture at Home
Corrective movement patterns require awareness beyond a Pilates session and into your everyday living. Not only does good posture make you look good but it also makes you feel great. The following blog includes exercises that can improve your posture.
Before you begin with these exercises, think about your posture and what your daily habits are. For example, you may regularly carry a bag on your right shoulder which causes your right upper trapezius and neck to be tighter. You could swap shoulders when carrying your bag to create a more balanced upper body. Setting up programming alerts on your phone or watch to remind you to take movement breaks throughout the day is a great way to remind you to move.
For healthier movement patterns while sitting, standing, and or for those on the move include these exercises three or four times a week.
Exercise 1: Pelvic curl
Strengthening the backline of the body (especially the glutes and hamstrings) will help correct a slouched or round-back posture and help you maintain a long spine while being seated. Lie on your back with the knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and arms at your sides. Press into the feet and feel the shoulders broad. Articulate the pelvis off the floor so there is a long line from the knees to the shoulders. Roll down one vertebra at a time. Aim to do this a couple three to five times.
Exercise 2: Bent knees Plank
This is a full-body strengthener that can assist in balancing a number of postural imbalances including swayback, slouching, or favouring one side. From an all-fours (quadruped) position, extend one leg at a time straight back, keeping your toes tucked under. The wrists need to be directly in line with the shoulders while maintaining a long neckline. Draw the abdominal muscles in and up. Imagine a straight line extending from the top of the head to the hips to the heels. Hold the pose for a breath or two before returning to all fours. Aim to do this three to five times.
Exercise 3: Chest Stretch
Reach your arms backwards and open the chest and shoulders. By stretching the pectoral muscles, it will help us avoid our habitual forward rounding posture. this rounded posture comes from daily tasks such as driving, texting, pushing a trolley, running, cycling and gazing at a computer screen. If you sit or stand with rounded shoulders, this will feel great. This can be repeated five to eight times.
Exercise 4: Swimming
This is awesome to stretch the chest and front line of the body while it strengthens the back body. Lie on your stomach with your arms at your sides, feet hip-width apart, and forehead or the tip of your nose resting lightly on the mat. Pull the abdominal muscles in to protect your lower back. Lift your chest, shoulders, and head off the mat. Lift the arms off the floor until they are in line with your back body, reaching your fingertips back towards your toes. Keep your neck long and tuck the chin slightly. Lower everything back down to the mat. Repeat three to five times.
When you are done, push up to all fours and then bring your hips to your heels for the child’s pose as a counter-stretch. This is your rest position in Pilates and will just release your lumbar spine.
Exercise 5: Spine Stretch
This is a great exercise to strengthen the abdominals and articulate the spine while also getting a good hamstring stretch. The focus should be on moving through the whole spine which will help the back gain more mobility and strength. This can be repeated eight times.
Exercise 6: Back Extension
This is a great way to work the upper back while protecting the lower back. When going into extension the front line of the body should also get a good stretch. As we commonly live in forward flexion this counteracts most habitual movement patterns. If you are someone with knee issues this can be done seated from a chair. This can be repeated eight times.