3 Simple Exercises for Better Posture
While new research suggests that spending hours a day seated may be bad for your health, camping out at a computer desk can also be bad news for your posture. The more hours we spend staring at our screens, the more we compromise ideal body positioning. Our heads tend to drop, and as we type on our keyboards our shoulders slowly begin to creep forward as our upper backs hunch. Continually sitting with poor posture at work can result in imbalances in our bodies, which can make daily activities more difficult.
To get back on track with good posture, try integrating these three moves into your workout routine.
Bird Dog Come to the floor and get down on all fours with knees underneath hips and wrists below the shoulders, fingers pointing forward. Engage the core, keeping the spine neutral as you lengthen the left leg. Engage the quadriceps, and lift the left leg off the floor until it’s parallel with the ground, but avoid lifting it above hip height. Slowly raise and straighten the right arm so that it’s parallel with the floor and keep the head aligned with the spine. Avoid allowing your shoulders to tilt upward, as the shoulders and hips should stay square to the floor throughout the movement. Hold for no more than 7 to 8 seconds, then slowly lower back to starting position. Complete 6 to 10 repetitions on each side.
Prisoner Rotations Start in a kneeling position and interlace hands behind the head without pulling on the neck. Engage the core muscles to stabilize the spine. Exhale and rotate arms to the right until a point of resistance is reached (avoid bouncing or rotating the hips). Hold for 15 seconds, and then perform a side bend, pointing the right elbow toward the floor. Hold for 5 seconds, and then return to upright position. Perform a side bend in the opposite direction before returning to upright position and allowing the trunk to rotate further into the movement. Perform 2 to 4 repetitions on each side.
Kneeling Lat Stretch Kneel facing a low desk or chair, bending forward to rest forearms on the desk/chair. Keeping the core engaged, begin with arms internally rotated, thumbs pointing inward. Exhale and gently collapse torso and head toward the floor, maintaining a neutral spine while externally rotating the arms, thumbs pointing upward. Hold for 15 seconds, then relax and repeat the stretch 2 to 4 times.
Jessica Matthews is an exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise. As a contributor to The Juice Bar, she'll be giving you the scoop on the latest fitness classes, decoding newfangled gym equipment, debunking exercise myths, and more.