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Published on March 22, 2018

The Ultimate Exercises to Improve Posture (Simple and Effective)

The Ultimate Exercises to Improve Posture (Simple and Effective)

Bad posture is a common problem for many people, as we live in a world full of activities leading to poor posture. Postural dysfunction (poor posture) is when our spine is situated in unnatural positions for extended periods of time, occuring as a result of one’s daily activities. [1]

Some causes of poor posture include: slouching in a chair, hunching your back, improper understanding of correct posture, leading a sedentary lifestyle, not having an exercise routine, poor core stability, and looking down at your computer and/or cell phone for extended periods of time. However, poor posture can easily be corrected.

Why you should fix your bad posture now

Bad posture doesn’t only make you look unhealthy and unattractive, it also causes several health problems. Take a look at this infographic to learn how bad posture makes you look and feel unhealthy and tired, and how good posture makes you look and feel healthy and confident:[2]

    Know if your posture is really bad

    Let’s examine some examples of poor posture versus good posture.[3]

    • Poor Posture: Rounded shoulders, slouching, head tilted forward, bent knees, pot belly
    • Good Posture: Straight line from your ear to your shoulder to your hip, balanced and upright posture

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      So, what can you do to correct poor posture?

      Simple exercises to improve your posture

      Poor posture can lead to serious neck pain and muscular imbalance. To correct this, we must activate our weak muscles while stretching our tight muscles.[4]

      The following video outlines several exercises you can do to improve your posture:

      Let’s examine these exercises you can do to improve your posture in greater detail:

      Exercise #1 – Reverse Plank Bridge

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        The Reverse Plank Bridge activates specific muscles while stretching key muscles like your pectoral muscles and the muscles in your neck. This exercise requires the following:

        1. Keep your arms straight and pull your shoulders back.
        2. Bring your shoulder blades together.
        3. Tuck your chin.
        4. Push your chest up and extend your spine.
        5. Your fingers can be pointed forward or backward.

        Exercise #2 – Arch Up

          The Arch Up exercise consists of three movements. All three movements require you to tuck your chin and do an external rotation of your arms (thumbs should go upward).

          1. Shoulder flexion. Push your arms and shoulder blades upwards and try to raise your arms as high as possible without bending them.
          2. Horizontal abduction. Lift your arms as high as possible to the side and try to bring your shoulder blades together.
          3. Shoulder extension. Push your arms upwards (thumbs up) and lift them as high as possible.

          Exercise #3 – Plank

            Planking

            is one of the simplest exercises that give you plenty of health benefits. Planking can improve your posture if done correctly. When doing the plank exercise, be sure to keep your legs straight, don’t allow your lower back to sink, and make sure you are looking down at the floor.[5]

            Exercise #4 – Posture Belt

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              Another way to fix your posture, especially your back posture, is to wear a posture belt. Wearing one during the first few hours of morning is good practice.The following steps were outlined by Pranayoga.

              1. Place the strap over your upper back and hold the ends in each hand.
              2. Drape each end of the strap over its respective shoulder.
              3. Cross the strap in the back holding one end in each hand.
              4. Pull the straps so that you feel it in your trapezius muscles and secure the ends at the front.

              Exercise #5 – Wall Angels

              This exercise is a simple way to test your posture. To do this exercise, simply lean back against the wall and lift your arms up and down (think of lying down in the snow and creating “snow angels”).[6]

              Make sure your rear is touching the wall and your back is flat against the wall. Watch the following video for a demonstration of this exercise:

              Exercise #6 – Up Against the Wall

              One of my favorite stretches is Up Against the Wall. Here you will put your hands behind your head, place your elbows to the wall and stretch. The following video provides a demonstration of this stretch:

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              Exercise #7 – Text Neck

              Lastly, this exercise will help you prevent bad posture, and it’s easy to do several times during the day. The exercise is simply to stop looking down at your phone. Obviously, we are not going to stop using our phones anytime soon, so a solution is this: bring your phone to you at eye level.

                Your posture is guaranteed to improve if you follow these 7 exercises; however, you must be disciplined and train your body to achieve good posture. Also, start today! It becomes much more difficult to improve bad posture the longer you put it off. Improving your posture will improve your life.

                Featured photo credit: Freepik via freepik.com

                Reference

                More by this author

                Dr. Jamie Schwandt

                Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

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                Last Updated on September 20, 2018

                How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

                How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

                Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

                If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

                1. Breathe

                The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

                • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
                • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
                • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

                Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

                2. Loosen up

                After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

                Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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                3. Chew slowly

                Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

                Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

                Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

                4. Let go

                Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

                The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

                It’s not. Promise.

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                Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

                Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

                21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

                5. Enjoy the journey

                Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

                Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

                6. Look at the big picture

                The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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                Will this matter to me…

                • Next week?
                • Next month?
                • Next year?
                • In 10 years?

                Hint: No, it won’t.

                I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

                Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

                7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

                You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

                Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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                8. Practice patience every day

                Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

                • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
                • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
                • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

                Final thoughts

                Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

                Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

                Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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