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How To Improve Posture: Stretches, Exercises and Tips from the Pros

Feb 9, 2023

Posture is a common word used in the workplace, in a physical therapy clinic, in sports and in fitness classes. It is more than just the way you carry yourself, it’s an important aspect of preventing pain, creating good habits and long-term health.

Posture is commonly referred to as the way you sit or stand, but it can also be used regarding movement patterns. Posture is the alignment in which you carry your body in both static (seated/standing) and dynamic (movement-based) positions. Read on to learn more about posture including pro-tips, 3 key stretches, exercises and more. 

Common Complaints

This day in age, hours are spent on the computer at work or as a student. Seated posture can be a huge component of spine health, muscle stiffness/tightness, and overall, the biggest complaints are of neck and back pain. Key components of keeping good posture are weight management, core strength and stability, and posterior chain strength.

The posterior chain is the group of muscles that make up the back (from head to toe), spine, and legs. This chain of muscles can often grow weak relative to muscles on the front of the body, especially the quads. There are a variety of great exercises to work the glutes and hamstrings that aid in building posterior chain strength, not only improving everyday movement and athleticism but also helping to prevent injury.

Back Support Tip

Lumbar Roll: Don’t have a pricey ergonomic chair? Take 1-2 towels roll them up tightly and place it in the center of your low back. You can adjust it throughout the day. Quick, easy and provides instant relief/postural improvement at no cost! 


3 Stretches to Improve Posture  

1. Couch stretch/hip flexor stretch: Place a pillow or cushion under one knee with your foot on the wall as shown, or on your couch. Other foot is planted propping you in a half-kneeling position. While keeping your core tight and pelvis (tailbone) tilted forward, translate your body slightly forward until you feel a moderate level stretch in the front of your thigh and hip. Hold for 1-2 min on each side

2. Thoracic repeated extension: Lay on your back with your knees bent and the foam roller under your spine. Slowly, keeping your bum on the ground, arch your back over the foam roller. Pause. Repeat on multiple segments of the thoracic spine for 1-2 min.

3. Pec stretch: Stand in a doorway of standard width. Place forearms against a door frame, with elbows, oriented slightly BELOW shoulders (not quite 90 degrees). Step forward with one leg, shifting body weight forward through doorway until a moderate stretch is felt in the front of the shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds, repeat 3 times.


3 Exercises to Improve Posture  

1. Bilateral external rotation with scapular squeezes: Standing with an upright posture, hold the middle of a piece of a resistance band with both hands (thumbs outward). With your elbows at your side and arms bent at a 90-degree angle, pull your hands outward and squeeze your shoulder blades down and together. The closer your hands are to each other, the more difficult this will be. This exercise can be completed without a resistance band by actively engaging your posterior shoulder. 

2. Bird dog: While in a crawling position, tighten at your abdominal muscles and then slowly lift a leg and your opposite arm upwards as shown below. Your hip will move into a hip extension on the way up. Lower your arm and leg down and repeat with the opposite side. Maintain a level and stable pelvis and spine the entire time.

3. Wall walks: Place forearms flat against the wall with a resistance band looped around the wrists. The arm should form a 90-degree angle with the wall and your shoulder. Maintain your wrists over your elbows.  Crawl your forearms up the wall alternating each arm while maintaining resistance. Continue down the wall with the same walking pattern.

Bad posture can result in a number of different aches and pains. These stretches and exercises should help relieve some of that pain. If you don’t experience relief after testing out these stretches and exercises, consider scheduling a free assessment at one of our Arizona locations today. You will meet with one of our highly-trained physical therapists and be able to discuss what ails you and the avenues of treatment available to you.

Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy

by Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy

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