Poor posture is all too common in this day and age. How often do you, or someone you know, hunch over the phone or in front of a laptop? You can unconsciously engage in the smartphone hunch, or you can experience tension in the upper back from breastfeeding. Being pregnant can also contribute to poor posture and cause you to compensate, which negatively affects the spine.
Being aware that you suffer from bad posture is the first step on your journey to correcting it. When you’re more mindful of your posture, you can see where the problem areas are, which helps you fix the issue. The second step is to stand in a relaxed position and look in the mirror, or have a friend snap a picture of your posture. Once you find the problem area, you can pinpoint exactly where you need the most work.
When you discover the area that requires your attention, you can perform the right stretches to get your posture back on track. There are a lot of different posture deviations, but the stretches in this article focus on kyphosis, or rounded shoulders. If you suffer from hunched over posture, then the following stretches should help.
This is a simple move that you can do while standing up or lying down. For this move, we will detail how to do it while standing up. Start in a standing position with your feet hip-distance apart and arms relaxed by your sides. Shift your shoulders down and away from your ears and then back, aiming to touch your shoulder blades together. Hold this constraction for five to 10 seconds before releasing. Repeat for a total of 10 times.
Bird dog pose is a classic yoga posture that is great for activating your core, arms, and legs. The main goal of this pose is to improve your balance and avoid leaning to one side as you lift your arm and leg off the ground. Begin in a tabletop position on all fours, stacking your shoulders directly above your wrists and hips above your knees. Slowly extend your left leg back, while simultaneously extending your right arm out in front. Make sure that your left leg and right arm are in line with your back. Engage your core to maintain a neutral position and hold for five deep breaths. Return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side.
Great for the lower back, you can do this pose almost anywhere, so long as you have some room to lie down. Start by lying flat on your stomach with your arms extending overhead. Make sure the tops of your feet are on the ground. Using your core, glutes, and hamstrings, lift your arms, neck, and legs off the ground so that your hands and feet are about six inches off the ground. Don’t lift with your neck; rather, keep your neck in a neutral position with your spine and spread your shoulder blades apart. Hold this position for one or two breaths and then return to the ground. Repeat to complete a total of 10 repetitions.
Unlike the previous stretches and poses, this move requires a resistance band. Sit up straight with your legs extended out in front of you. Start with a resistance band that has relatively low tension so that you can get the move and proper form down. Wrap the center of the resistance band around the soles of your feet (ideally wear shoes to avoid slipping) and grab the handles or ends of the band with each hand. Lean back slightly, engage your lats, and lower your shoulders as you draw your elbows back until your fists are inline with your ribcage. Hold this position for one breath and then return to the starting position in a controlled manner. Complete a total of 10 repetitions.
Yet another balance and core exercise, glute bridges work the legs and glutes, while creating more space in the upper back. Lie flat on your back and bend your knees, planting the soles of your feet on the ground about six inches from your glutes. Keep your arms by your sides, with your fingertips nearly touching your heels. Engage your core and glutes to roll up off your spine until you are only resting on your shoulders and feet. Keeping your arms on the ground, aim to bring your shoulder blades closer together and clasp your hands if you want to. Remain in this bridge position for three deep breaths and then return to the starting position. Complete a total of eight to 10 repetitions and then rest.