When you neglect your posture, you invite chronic neck and back pain. Sitting improperly for extended periods of time in front of a computer, standing for hours with your shoulders hunched, and sleeping and lifting improperly, can all lead to debilitating aches down the road. Do these six quick and easy realignment exercises to help reeducate your muscles from getting stuck in that hunched-over position.
Taking a few minutes at work and at the gym to properly align yourself can pay huge dividends in helping you feel (and look) better, avoid injuries, and hit your fitness goals. How do you do it? Glad you asked!
How to Fix Bad Posture at Work
The best thing you can do to alleviate the muscular woes of working all day is to move more! Take a break every 20-30 minutes and walk around. Even if it's a lap or two! When you sit, you apply constant tension on the body; standing up is more or less a reset button that helps to counteract some of the negative effects of sitting.
As you sit back down, do this quick exercise:
1. Chin Tuck
The Chin Tuck can help reverse forward-head posture by strengthening the neck muscles. Start with your shoulders rolled back and down. Look straight ahead, and place two fingers on your chin, slightly tucking your chin and moving your head back. Hold for 5 seconds and slowly relax. Repeat 10 times.
The more of a double chin you create, the better the results. If you’re in a parked car, try doing the Chin Tuck pressing the back of your head into the headrest for the same amount of time and repetitions.
2. Doorway Stretch
Have a doorway somewhere? Good! Because this exercise will help to loosen up your tight chest and shoulders!
Standing in a doorway, lift your arm so it's parallel to the floor and bend at the elbow so your fingers point toward the ceiling. Place your hand on the doorjamb.
Slowly lean forward against the doorway until you feel a comfortable stretch throughout the chest. Hold for 5 seconds. Relax, and repeat for 5 repetitions on each side.
How to Fix Bad Posture at Home
Incorporating regular static stretches into your everyday life will help stretch and lengthen muscles that can become tight. So consider adding these stretches to your morning routine. Namely, after you shower, when the muscles are nice and warm up.
No, we didn't just create the name of this exercise...we think.
First, start by getting on all fours with your wrists aligned below your shoulders and your knees aligned below your hips. Inhale, relaxing your belly so it moves toward the floor, and gently arching your back, tilting your tailbone and chin toward the ceiling. Now, slowly exhale and gently rounding your spine, drawing your chin to your chest. Hold each position for 5 seconds, and repeat each movement for 5 reps.
From the same all fours position, tuck your right toes under and extend your right leg behind you. Slowly lift your leg off the floor no higher than hip height. Bracing your core, slowly reach your left arm forward no higher than shoulder height and turn your palm inward so your thumb points toward the ceiling. Hold for no more than 10 seconds, keeping your hips and shoulders level. Return to starting position and repeat on the opposite side. Continue alternating back and forth for 6 to 10 reps on each side.
5. Thoracic Spine Mobility (in Child's Pose)
While on all fours, sit back onto your heels, as one would do in child's pose. Place one hand behind your head, with your elbow pointing toward the floor. Rotate your chest until your elbow points up to the ceiling. Slowly lower back to the starting position. Do 6 to 10 reps, then switch sides.
How to Fix Bad Posture At the Gym
The best thing you can do to avoid injuries is to warm up properly before each and every workout. Sometimes, an exercise can count as a warmup—as in the case of these exercises
6. Lat Hang
This is great for alleviating tight lats and your upper back—which may result from texting, poor desk posture, etc.
Place a box or bench below a pullup bar. Step onto the box, so your feet are shoulder-width apart and slightly in front of you. Keeping your feet on the bench, grasp the bar and let your torso hang so you feel the stretch in your armpits and across your chest. Inhale through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth—your ribs should feel like they are moving in and out as you exhale. Hold for 5-10 seconds, slowly come down, and repeat. Perform five times.
7. Single Leg Bridge
Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor in front of you. Lift your left foot off the ground, then raise your hips as high as you can go comfortably. Hold for five seconds, before slowly returning to the starting position. Don’t let your left foot touch the ground between reps. Do 10 repetitions per side.
8. Groiner Stretch (with Overhead Reach)
This one is a doozy! It combines many of our targets (hip mobility, ribcage rotation, shoulder mobility, etc.) into a single ground-based movement.
Get in a pushup position. Step your right foot outside your right hand. Drop your left knee down to the ground so you feel a stretch in the front of your left hip. Press your left hand into the ground and reach your right arm toward the sky, rotating through your upper back to open your chest and following your hand with your eyes. Place your right hand back on the ground and return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side. Do 6 reps per side.
There you have it! Believe it or not, you may be a little sore the day following these exercises, as your body adjusts to what you've just done. Keep up with it, and try to perform these exercise 4 to 5 day a week to see a marked difference!
Need a little help staying on task? Need some motivation? Head on over to your local Jersey Strong and we'll get you the help you need to look and feel better!