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Last Updated on February 4, 2021

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

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]

    Is Your Posture 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.

                More Tips for Improving Your Posture

                Featured photo credit: Freepik via freepik.com

                Reference

                [1] ThePhysioCompany.com: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment of Bad Posture
                [2] Yalch Clinic: Bad Posture vs Good Posture
                [3] ThePhysioCompany.com: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment of Bad Posture
                [4] Calisthenicmovement: Improve Your Posture
                [5] NHS.UK: 10-minue abs workout
                [6] PhysicalTherapyVideo: Most Important Exercises to Help Pinched Nerve & Neck Pain

                More by this author

                Dr. Jamie Schwandt

                Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

                10 Hacks to Increase Your Brain IQ, Focus, and Creativity How to Upgrade Your Critical Thinking Skills and Make Smart Choices The Ultimate Exercises to Improve Posture (Simple and Effective) How Cognitive Learning Benefits Your Brain and Grows Knowledge 9 Game Changing Tips on How to Write Goals (and Reach Them!)

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                Published on April 23, 2021

                10 Knee Stretches For Knee Pain Relief

                10 Knee Stretches For Knee Pain Relief

                Knee pain is a common problem that affects people from all walks of life, and it often requires some sort of therapy or knee stretches to resolve. The causes of knee pain can range from overexertion, sedentary lifestyle, strains, sprains, injuries, and even structural challenges. Obesity, lack of exercise, or arthritis are also some commonly known causes of knee pain.[1] But there can be other reasons, too.

                For example, I got the first knee pain of my life when I was in college. My right knee nearly collapsed because I pushed myself more than the average participant in a mountaineering trip we took that summer.

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                Another common cause of knee pain for an average-aged person can be the faulty positioning of the laptop workstation—being at the wrong distance and height—and intensified by a chair too low, too high, or even placed in such a way that you are keeping your knees bent for long periods of time.

                So, what are some good knee stretches that you can do to get relief from knee pain and keep them healthy over time? Well, here we go!

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                Here are 10 knee stretches for effective knee pain relief.

                1. Single Knee to Chest stretch

                1. Lie down on your back.
                2. As you inhale, bend the left knee and bring it to the chest.
                3. Interlock your fingers, placing them behind the left thigh or above the knee. Gently begin to draw the leg closer to your body, keeping the other leg flat on the ground.
                4. Keep your spine stretched and tail bone tucked touching the floor. Relax the shoulders.
                5. If your neck, shoulders, and upper back are tight, you may keep a pillow or a blanket under your head and neck. Count to five and then interchange the feet.
                6. Complete five rounds with left and right foot, together making one round.

                2. Quad Stretch Sideways

                1. Lie down sideways on your left, with elbow bent on the ground, supporting the head with the palm.
                2. Inhale and bend your right leg, toes pointing backward. Grab the ankle with the right arm and bring the heel as close to the buttock as possible. Hold it for five seconds, and exhale release.
                3. Turn to the opposite side on your right.
                4. Inhale and bend your left leg, toes pointing backward. Grab the ankle with the left arm and bring the heel as close to the buttock as possible. Hold it for five seconds, and exhale release.
                5. Make sure to have a good round grip around the ankle—fingers together, thumb apart.
                6. Complete five rounds with right and left, together making one round.

                3. Figure 4 Stretch

                1. Lie down on your back.
                2. Bend your knees and place your feet on the ground, hip-distance apart.
                3. As you inhale, place your lower right leg on the left thigh, crossing the ankle over. At this point, your right knee should naturally be pointing sideways, creating a figure 4 shape.
                4. Interlock your fingers behind your left thigh and gently begin to draw your legs closer to your body, lifting the left leg away from the ground until it becomes parallel to the ground.
                5. Keep your spine stretched and tail bone tucked touching the floor, relax the shoulders.
                6. If your neck, shoulders, and upper back are tight, you may keep a pillow or a blanket under your head and neck. Count to five and then interchange the feet.
                7. Complete five rounds with left and right foot, together making one round.

                4. Single-Leg Raises

                1. Lie down on your back, arms by the side of the body, palms facing down.
                2. As you inhale, lift the left leg, keeping the knee straight. The right leg can either be resting straight on the ground or bent with the foot firmly placed on the ground as per your convenience.
                3. Keep your spine stretched and tail bone tucked touching the floor, relax the shoulders.
                4. If your neck, shoulders, and upper back are tight, you may keep a pillow or a blanket under your head and neck. Do 5 lifts on one side and then change the feet.
                5. Repeat from the other side.

                5. Leg Extension Sideways

                1. Lie down sideways on your left, with elbow bent on the ground, supporting the head with the palm.
                2. Inhale and lift your right leg, keeping the knee straight and toes pointing diagonally. Exhale and bring it down. Repeat five times at a medium speed. Do not use jerky movements, and do not do it too slowly.
                3. Turn to the opposite side on your right.
                4. Inhale and light the left leg up, exhale down. Repeat the same exercise five times.
                5. Make sure that the core is engaged for better results.

                6. Tiger Stretch

                1. Come down on the ground on all fours—knees and palms. Ensure that legs are hip-width apart and knees in line with the hips. Also, ensure that wrists and shoulders are in one line. Relax the toes.
                2. As you inhale, lift the right leg, toes pointing up. Try to bring your toes as close to the head as possible. Let the back arch naturally. Lift your neck as if trying to meet the toes.
                3. As you exhale, bring your leg down bending the knee, and sliding it from under the body to meet the forehead. Drop your neck looking down trying to meet the knee.
                4. Repeat the stretch from the left side—both times slowly and mindfully.
                5. Complete five rounds with right and left together, making one round.

                Note: You can keep a towel and anything that gives slight support to the knee while you place them on the ground in case you need more support.

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                7. Knee Extension Sitting

                1. Sit up on a chair with your back straight.
                2. Interlock the fingers placing them behind the left knee.
                3. As you inhale, lift the left knee, bringing it parallel to the ground. Do it with medium speed without any jerky movement. Repeat five to ten times.
                4. Keep your spine stretched and shoulders relaxed.
                5. Interchange the feet and repeat the same exercise on the right leg.

                Note: The image suggests holding the chair rather than the back of the knee, but I would recommend holding the back of the knee as it provides better support. Choose based on your convenience.

                8. Dynamic Squats

                1. Squat down and bringing your right arm from inside, slide your right palm below the sole of the right foot, palm facing up. Bring the left arm from the inside, slide your left palm below the sole of the left foot, palm facing up.
                2. For those who cannot squat, please roll a mat and keep your heels on it and stand facing a wall at an arms distance from the wall so you can place your palms on the wall.
                3. Once you have found your comfortable position, hands are not to be moved from where they are.
                4. While exhaling, come up and straighten your knees, maintaining the position of the palms.
                5. Inhale squat and exhale come up again while straightening the knees.
                6. Repeat five times, slowly and with awareness of breath.

                Note: Contrary to what some people think, squats are very good for knee strengthening and, therefore, reduce knee pain in the short and long term. Do it slowly, and you will be okay. In case you feel that it is too challenging for you—the hips aren’t open enough or there is severe pain, you can simply sit down on a chair and then stand up—keep repeating with arms stretched in front.

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                9. Kneeling Lunge

                1. Exhale and bring both your palms on the ground coming into an inverted V position.
                2. Inhale and bring the right foot firmly between the palms, left knee on the ground and toes relaxed.
                3. Sit up keeping the spine straight and bring the palms to the waist.
                4. Make sure that the right knee and ankle are in one line. Look forward.
                5. Inhale and bring the left foot firmly between the palms, right knee on the ground, and toes relaxed.
                6. Complete five rounds with one set of left and right making one round.

                Note: Place a towel or any other cushioning fabric for more knee support.

                10. Mill Churning Stretch

                1. Sit up with your legs apart and away from each other as much as is comfortable for you. Choose your maximum and convenient distance.
                2. Bring your palms together and interlock the fingers. Stretch your arms forward while straightening the elbows. The arms will remain in this position throughout this stretch, do not bend the elbows.
                3. Inhale and exhale. Start making a big circle with your torso, turning towards the right and your arms moving with it. Imagine your hip is fixed at one point and your body is encircling around it. Go as big a circle as you can by going as far back as possible.
                4. Exhale as you go down and inhale as you come up. Encircle five times.
                5. Repeat the same stretch from the left side, making a big circle five times by rotating the body from the left side.

                Consistency Is the Key

                Knee stretching and strengthening is a gentle and gradual process. Therefore, consistency in practicing these knee stretches goes a long way.

                The knees are one of the most important joints in the foundational structure of your body. So, take good care of them and enjoy pain-less healthy knees, irrespective of your age and occupation. I wish you the best!

                More Stretches You Can Try for Better Fitness

                Featured photo credit: bruce mars via unsplash.com

                Reference

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