3 Better-Posture Exercises

Want to improve your slouchy posture? Good posture means more than just standing with a straight back, as we learned from Eden Haugland, director and owner of Eden Pilates in Toronto. Your spine should have natural curves, not an exaggerated straightness to it. Pilates can be a fantastic way to become more aware of your alignment and strengthen your muscles that support the spine. Haugland shared a few exercises you can easily try at home. Practice these and soon people may be admiring how you carry yourself.

Related: How Good Is Your Posture?

Posture exercise #1: Spinal Articulation Sitting Against the Wall. “This exercise will help release tension carried in spinal extensors—that’s your back muscles—prepares the body for abdominal work and also increases awareness of ideal alignment,” says Haugland.

  • Sit on a stool with your back against a bare wall on a stool.
  • Lift up tall against the wall, making sure you place your tailbone right back into it and inhale.
  • Exhale and begin to roll vertebrae by vertebrae forward through the spine until your spine is no longer touching the wall, but so that your pelvis is still upright and your hips are flexed forward to your thighs.
  • Inhale at the bottom of the movement; practise breathing into the back of your ribcage while keeping your stomach pulled in.
  • Exhale roll vertebrae by vertebrae back to the starting position making sure your head is the last thing to lift and when it does you are at the tallest position possible!  Keep shoulders relaxed open and down.
  • Repeat five to ten times.

Posture exercise #2: Ab Prep. “This exercise will activate and strengthen the abdominal muscles in order to support the spine in good alignment,” says Haugland.

  • Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on floor, hands behind head, elbows in line with temples.  Keep the back of the ribcage relaxed on the mat and a little space behind your lower back at all times.
  • Inhale through the nose, then exhale and engage your deeper abs by “sinking” your lower stomach down.  On the same exhale, flex the head and shoulder blades off the floor pulling the bottom of the rib cage towards the front of the hips; use only your abdominals rather than your hip flexors.
  • Inhale and sustain the position breathing into the back of the rib cage and holding your transversus.
  • Exhale to lower back down.
  • Repeat 10 times.

Posture exercise #3: Upper back and neck lift. “This will strengthen your upper and mid back and open your shoulders,” says Haugland.

  • Lie on your stomach. “You can lie on the floor if your postural tendency isn’t one of a rounded middle back and shoulders, otherwise lying over the side of your bed with your chest half-on, half-off will allow for the best chance at optimal alignment,” says Haugland. Arms long by your side, and head relaxed down over edge of bed.
  • Inhale and then exhale and lift the upper back, neck and head into line with the rest of the spine following these key steps:
  • Deflate the ribcage gently
  • Drop the middle of the chest into the floor
  • Lift the upper back and neck without using your lower back, keeping the back of the neck long
  • Adjust your head so that it is level with the spine and the nose points directly to the floor.
  • Gently lift your arms to the sides of the hips thinking about opening up the corners of your shoulders and sliding gently down your back.
  • Inhale and hold this position, then exhale release down
  • Repeat eight to 10 times.

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