In our posture series, we’ve covered numerous ways to improve your posture.
But probably the simplest and most effective solution are posture exercises.
If you’re committed to having a great posture that lasts, you should aim to do these exercises four to five times per week.
After a month, you should notice the benefits. This will include improved breathing, less back pain, better mood and focus.
In this guide, we’ll help you reach the goal of perfect posture. We’ll explain the best exercises to do with bodyweight, weights, for neck, and lower back.
Why Is It Important
A healthy posture is important for everybody regardless of age, gender, and medical issues. Why is that? Let’s briefly review the benefits.
Less Back Pain
Back pain has many possible causes, and a poor posture usually plays a predominant role.
Nowadays, we slouch more than ever sitting in front of the computer on almost any chair.
Even children have increased their incidence of back pain due to their use of digital media, computers, and laptops.
You have many arteries in your body the main ones include the aorta and its main branches.
These arteries are unlikely to obstruct due to a poor posture unless there’s a really severe alteration.
On the other hand, secondary branches are more sensitive to reducing or altering their blood flow due to a bad posture.
A straight posture allows your airways to stay open. Otherwise, they would collapse or reduce their size.
That’s why some people snore at night at a given position and stop making noise after straightening up.
Even if you don’t realize, slouching can reduce your breathing quality and oxygen intake.
In the body, our balance depends on weight distribution, which becomes affected by a postural change.
Poor posture causes counterweight measures that alter our normal weight distribution.
The problem is apparently solved by itself but makes us more susceptible to falls and slips than the average.
Less Risk Of Injury
This is especially important for older adults, but also athletes and people who exercise with bodyweight, dumbbells, or weight plates.
Keeping a good stance will always reduce the chance of injuries regardless of our age.
Can you fix bad posture?
Bad posture often comes with habit problems such as slouching in chairs, standing with a flat back, leaning on one leg after standing for a long time, and texting with a hunched back.
Fixing a bad posture is possible, but it depends on the self-awareness of the individual to detect and avoid these habits, which can be sometimes difficult to build and maintain.
How long does it take to correct posture?
Depending on the severity of your posture problems, you might need a different time than other patients to gain healthy habits.
However, in most cases, you will start to see changes if you consistently work on your posture for the next 30 days.
Does exercising improve posture?
Exercising definitely improves your posture, especially core-strengthening exercises.
This type of exercise improves the functionality of abdominal, transverse, and back muscles.
It provides support to your spine and makes it easier to maintain a good posture naturally.
How can I stop slouching?
To stop slouching you must start with self-awareness because most times we don’t even realize when we adopt a poor posture.
When you realize you’re slouching, stand up and stretch. Try to pinch your shoulder blades together, holding the position for 20 seconds.
You can also try the exercises we will list below.
Can posture be corrected at any age?
Posture is fundamental at any age, but not easy to correct in some cases. Older people reduce their mobility levels and joint flexibility over time.
If they suffer from a musculoskeletal disease, it will be harder to get back to a healthy posture.
However, even if you can’t reach the perfect stance, it is still possible to improve your postural habits.
Best Bodyweight Posture Exercises
So, if you’re considering exercises to improve your posture, you’re on the right track. Here’s a list with ideas you can try at home with little to no equipment.
All we recommend purchasing is a yoga mat and some light weights or stability ball if you’re planning to make it a bit more challenging.
This is an excellent exercise to stretch and release the tension on your spine, hamstrings, and glutes. Here’s how to do it.
- Start by sitting on your shinbones.
- Then, fold forward extending your arms in front of you and placing your forehead on the floor.
- Breathe deeply and feel the stretch.
Downward Facing Dog
This is a special position to align your back muscle and very useful to relieve back pain. Here’s how to do it:
- Start by lying face down and lifting your hips, bringing them toward the ceiling.
- Holding your weight with your hands and toes, lengthen your spine, and slightly bend your knee.
- Hold the pose for 1 minute.
The cobra pose is a useful exercise to strengthen various muscle groups in your back. Here’s how you can do it:
- Start by lying face down with your legs extended behind you and your arms at both sides.
- As you exhale deeply, raise your head and chest only using your back muscles.
- Relax your back and neck muscles.
- Repeat up to 5 times.
This is a simple exercise anyone can do to reset their posture, even older adults. Here’s how:
- Lean back against the wall lifting both arms to the sides.
- As your rear touches the wall, lift and lower your arms as if you were creating snow angels in winter.
The chest opener is a very good exercise if you spend a lot of time sitting and need to stretch your chest. Here’s how to do it:
- Stand and look ahead.
- Bring both arms behind, interlacing your fingers on your back.
- Then, inhale and lift your chest upward and your hands downward.
- Go back to the initial position and repeat 10 times.
This pose stretches your spine, but also your glutes and legs. Here’s how to do it:
- Stand with your feet together and face forward.
- Fold forward and bring your chest to your lap.
- Place your hands on your heels or as far as you can.
- Keep the same pose for 1 minute.
Besides a great stretch, the pigeon pose can improve sciatic nerve problems. Here’s how to do it:
- Start by coming down on all fours.
- Rest your left knee on the floor and bend it angled toward the right.
- Slide your right knee and extend it behind you with a straight back and facing forward.
- Then, lower your torso with your hands extended in front of you.
- Hold the pose for 1 minute.
Reverse Plank Bridge
This type of plank activates your chest and neck muscles, plus it’s a good alternative to relieve pain. Here’s how you do it:
- Sit on the floor with both feet flat on the ground.
- Place your hands on the floor behind you and lift your hips.
- Bring together your shoulder blades and extend your spine.
- Maintain this position for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
This is a helpful way to stretch your spine and relieve tension in your back, shoulders, torso, and neck area. Here’s how:
- Start by lying down on all fours and drop your abdomen while extending your spine as you inhale.
- Exhale while arching your spine and tucking in your chin into the chest.
- Repeat the same movement for 1 minute.
This one’s the same as the cat-cow exercise but you don’t have to lie down on the floor. Here’s how to do it:
- Start by standing with both feet hip-width apart.
- Round your spine and bring your chin to your chest.
- Then, lift your chest upwards and stretch back your spine.
- Repeat the same movement for a few minutes.
Elbows To The Wall Stretch
A helpful stretch, not only for your back but also your neck area. Here’s how you do it:
- Stand facing the wall.
- Put your hands behind your head and reach the wall with your elbows.
- Slide your elbows upward in the wall and stretch.
This is another excellent exercise to relieve tightness in the back area and increase mobility. You can do it either lying on your back or on all fours. If you want to do it on all fours, here’s how:
- Start in a quadruped position and place your left hand on your neck.
- Rotate to the left and stretch as far as you can.
- Go back to the initial position and repeat on the opposite side.
Planks are excellent to strengthen core muscles and improve posture. There are many types you can try, here are the steps for two of them:
- Start by lying on all fours.
- Hold your weight with your hands and the tip of your toes, lifting your hips upward.
- Tighten your core and maintain your back straight and your hips raised for up to 1 minute.
- Start with a high plank position, but shift your weight to your right hand, stacking your ankles.
- Extend your left hand toward the ceiling and raise your hips.
- Tighten your core and maintain your back straight and your hips lifted for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Neck Posture Exercises
These exercises are mandatory if you notice a forward neck posture.
It is a common postural problem that affects 66% of the population, causing neck pain and headache problems. Here’s what you can do:
Chin Tuck Exercise
This is a helpful exercise to activate your deep cervical muscles:
- Start by placing two fingers in your chin.
- Tuck in your chin gently, retracting your head to the back. Maintain this position for up to 5 seconds and release.
- Repeat up to 10 times.
This is a great stretch you can do to release tension in your neck area. Here’s how:
- Position both elbows and your hands in a doorframe.
- Step through the doorway until you feel a gentle stretch.
- Hold for up to 30 seconds.
- Return to your starting position and repeat 3 times.
This is a great stretch exercise to activate your suboccipital muscles and other neck muscles.
- Start by placing two fingers in your chin while your opposite hand goes to the back of your head.
- Apply a gentle force down as you pull your head to your chest with your fingers.
- Maintain this position for up to 30 seconds.
- Release and repeat the stretch 3 times.
This helpful exercise extends your mid and low back muscles, which contribute to neck positioning. Here’s how to do it:
- Sit on a chair, tuck your chin, and raise your chest upwards.
- Bring both hands back as you rotate them pointing your thumbs to the back.
- Hold the position for up to 10 seconds and release.
Upper Trap Stretch
This is another stretch focused on your neck. Here’s how you do it:
- Start by looking ahead and placing the right hand on the opposite side of your head.
- Apply gentle force to bring your head towards your right shoulder.
- Hold this position for up to 30 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
Exercises With Weights
If you have weights, you could also use them to correct your posture. Here are a few ideas for you:
- Take a dumbbell in each hand and lie with your face down on a stability ball with both legs extended.
- Extend your arms forward making a Y.
- Pull your shoulders back, lifting your arms above your shoulders.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together and go back to the starting position.
- Repeat up to 15 times and aim for 3 sets.
The High Row Exercise
- Sit on a stability ball or the floor and place a resistance tube at chest height.
- Hold the handles shoulder-width apart and bend your elbows closing in your hands to your shoulders.
- Go back to the starting position and repeat up to 20 times, aim for at least 3 sets.
- Hold a resistance tube at chest height with your arms stretched out in front of you.
- As you keep your arms straight, extend them to the sides.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you reach for each side and return to your starting position each time.
- Count 15 repetitions and aim for 3 sets.
Right Angle Press
For this exercise:
- Hold a bar in front of your chest with your elbows bent 90º.
- With your arms parallel to the ground, rotate your shoulders to the back and bring back your head.
- Lower the bar and repeat the same movement up to 15 times, aiming for 3 sets.
Seated Low Row
- Sit on a stability ball or the floor and anchor a resistance tube at chest height holding both ends.
- Keep your elbows on your sides, relax your shoulders, and pull the cables towards you.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades and repeat the movements 15 times, aiming for 3 sets.
Guidelines & Precautions
As you perform these exercises there are a few safety recommendations and precautions you can take:
Pull your abdominal muscles in
Remember core activation is essential for these exercises to be effective.
Therefore, it is paramount that you activate your abdominal muscles by tightening your core.
Use controlled breathing
For each exercise, inhale and exhale when recommended.
Control your breathing by exhaling whenever you’re lifting weight or tightening your muscles and inhaling when you’re releasing tension or lowering the weight.
Work at your own pace
Don’t force yourself, especially if you’re doing this for the first time. Work at your own pace and listen to your body.
Remember that these exercises are made to correct your posture. They are not bodybuilding exercises, so the “no pain, no gain” principle does not apply.
If it’s too painful, stop!
If you have posture problems, you will naturally feel the tension and a bit of pain at some point.
But if the pain becomes intense, it is recommended to stop or reduce the reach of your stretch movements.
Tips For Everyday
Even if you do exercises every day, you won’t’ have much improvement if your poor postural habits are maintained throughout the day.
Try to adopt these recommendations in your day-to-day, and they will go perfectly with your exercises and increase their effectiveness.
You may feel relaxed when you are slouching but this only puts extra tension in some muscles, which causes pain in the long term.
Instead of slouching, sit comfortably but correctly, and make adjustments to your seat if you see fit.
People with posture problems usually stand with a flat back. The pelvis is tucked in, the lower back is straight, and the shoulders are in the front with a slight hunch.
Increase your self-awareness, detect this posture, and bring your shoulders back while maintaining the natural curve of your lower back.
What You Text Neck
When using a computer or texting on your phone, try not to hunch.
Keep your head and back straight and correct a hunched back whenever it appears.
Watch Your Phone Pose
Another position associated with phone use appears when you’re receiving a call.
Holding your phone between your shoulder and your ear places an unnecessary strain on your neck muscles, your shoulders and your upper back.
Instead of doing this, hold the phone with your hands or use a hands-free device.
Don’t Stick Your Neck Out At The Screen
When your chair is too low, your screen is too high, or you have a hunched back problem, you may also stick your neck forward and slightly lean toward your screen.
When you find yourself in this position, lengthen your neck upwards, tuck your chin, bring back your shoulders, and pull in your abdominal muscles.