Elbows off the table…Don’t chew with your mouth open…Say please and thank you…Don’t talk politics at dinner…Napkin on your lap…Stand up straight!
Ah, those old school lessons in manners. We all can remember our parents (or grandparents) bombarding us with these countless gems of irritable-yet-insightful wisdom. And it’s a good thing they did, because they turned out to be the building blocks to becoming a nice and respectful person (except for that whole napkin thing, not sure what happened to that).
Yet one of those lessons holds the key to not only good manners, but good long-term health. We’re talking of course about standing up straight… AKA good posture! In a minute we’ll be talking about how to fix bad posture through the simple and wonderful activity that is exercise. But first, some basics.
The Importance of Proper Posture
Having good posture is one of the most overlooked, under-appreciated elements of proper fitness. Our posture is responsible for so many aspects of our health and well-being, it’s not even funny. Good posture reduces back and neck pain, improves our digestive system, boosts muscle and joint function, elevates spinal health, and even lifts our mood!
The Problem with Posture in Today’s World
Long ago — we’re talkin’ horse n’ buggy time — people didn’t tend to have problems with their postures (syphilis, consumption and barrel fever, sure, but posture? Not at all.) That was because most people were busy running around outside, moving haystacks, churning butter and the like. But in these days of late nights at the office parked on our keisters, sitting in traffic, or kicking back on the couch — our postures have gradually become bupkis.
Good Posture vs. Bad Posture
So how do you know if you’ve got good posture vs. bad posture? If you lean more towards ‘up and at ‘em’ … or ‘crouched and crumbling’? Here’s a simple test. Stand right up against a wall, and try to get your heels, butt, shoulder blades, and head to touch the wall, without having to look up or down. You might also talk to your doctor or chiropractor and ask them to give you an assessment.
Now the unfortunate truth is that around 80% of Americans experience pain associated with bad posture. And yes that sounds pretty nasty, but wait! Because we’ve got good news…
You CAN Fix Bad Posture, with Exercise!
As anybody who knows us at Studio SWEAT onDemand, we think fitness is the key to unlocking most things in life. And that goes double for posture! So sit back (but not too far back) and relax, because here are some exercises that’ll straighten you right out!
Sit on your shins with knees pressed together, and fold forward at your hips, walking your hands in front of you. Sink your hips back, and place your forehead on the floor with your head turned to one side. Hold for up to five minutes while breathing deeply.
Start on your hands and knees, with your weight balanced on all fours. Inhaling, drop your abs and extend your spine. On the exhale, arch your spine toward the ceiling with your chin tucked into your chest. Do this for five minutes.
Let me begin by saying that if you’re anything like me, you will very likely not be looking like the lovely model above when you’re doing this move, but it’s a gorgeous goal so we’re leaving it.
From a standing position, bend your top half down to the ground, as far as you can without rounding your back. Place your hands behind your knees or ankles and pull yourself into yourself, while remaining in a comfortable position. Bend your knees slightly and soften your hips to lengthen your spine. Stay in the position for a minute.
Bent Over Basic Row (w/ Resistance Band)
This exercise is perfect for working your rhomboid muscles, which help stabilize the shoulder blades, hold your body upright, and help you perform pulling movements. Standing on top of a resistance band (you can use a variety of band options including, but not limited to, the one seen above) with feet shoulder-width apart, bend slightly at the hip, and grasp the band in both hands just under your knee. Squeeze those shoulder blades as you lift the band towards your ribs, then lower and repeat. Try three sets of ten.
From a standing position, interlock your fingers behind your back. Keeping your arms perfectly straight, slowly lift your hands behind you. Hold the pose for five breaths, and then return to starting position. Take a few breaths and do it again. Repeat 10 times.
Start laying flat on the floor, on your stomach. Press your hands into the floor to slowly lift yourself up, with your toes tucked under your feet as you lift your heels. Lift your hips toward the ceiling, with your knees slightly bent to lengthen your spinal column. Hold this position for a minute.
This is exactly like the standard floor plank, but with your arms fully straightened beneath you. Place your hands shoulder width apart on the floor, with your weight balanced on your toes. Lengthen the back of your neck and look down at the floor. Keep your body in a straight, diagonal line, and hold for one minute.
Start this exercise on the floor, laying down on your side. Place your lower elbow beneath you and lift yourself gently upwards, resting on the side of your lower foot. Make sure to keep a 90° angle with your arm and the floor. Your upper arm can rest on your upper hip. You want to keep as straight a line as you can, hold for thirty seconds, and then switch sides.
Got that all straight? You’ve now got a perfect exercise routine to fix your bad posture! Now that you’re standing tall and proud and ready for anything — what’s next? We’ll tell you: a 7-Day Free Trial with Studio SWEAT onDemand! We’ve got an exhaustive library of full-body workouts that’ll round out your fitness. We’re talking virtual fitness classes like Indoor Cycling, TRX, Bootcamp, Yoga, HIIT, Pilates, Kickboxing, Barre, Zumba, and more! Sign up today, and put your back into it!