Author: Meg Bane
We sit as we work. We sit as we drive. We sit while we eat. We sit as we watch our favorite Netflix show. You get the point… While we spend so much time sitting, most of us aren’t aware of how we’re sitting and the lasting effects this can have on our body. For many people, the default sitting posture is one where our shoulders slouch and our head protrudes slightly forward, while our chest muscles get tightened and our back muscles become stretched. This can lead to neck, back, and shoulder pain, tension headaches, and sometimes even jaw issues.
Fortunately, posture is something we can actively work on improving and we’ve put together three exercises for better posture.
Dedicating a few minutes each day to these three stretches can help you counteract some of the negative effects of slouching and improve your posture in the process. Over time, you might notice that it improves your general sense of health and wellbeing too.
Posture exercise #1: Trap stretch
What: 20 second holds, 2 times on each side
Why: Your traps (the muscle of the upper back / shoulders) often tighten when you become stressed or deeply involved in your work and your shoulders raise towards your ears! Stretching them out helps reduce the stress on your neck and improves your posture!
How: Place your right arm behind your back. Gently lean your left ear over to your left shoulder. You can use your left hand to pull the top of your head down towards your shoulder gently for an increased stretch. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
Pro tip: Be gentle as you pull your head down and allow some time for your muscles to get used to the stretch. Find a happy medium where you feel the stretch (some tension), but you shouldn’t feel any pain.
Posture exercise #2: Supine chin tucks and head lift
What: Complete 2 rounds of 10 lifts
Why: With a more forward head position, the muscles in the front of our neck become elongated and weaker. Strengthening these muscles help keep your head pulled back.
How: Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor (hip width apart!) Tuck your chin towards your chest, lifting your head about 1 inch from the ground. Hold for 4-5 seconds and slowly lower back down. Repeat 10 times for two rounds.
Pro tip: When lifting your head, concentrate on barely lifting your head off the ground. Lifting your head too high will engage your sternocleidomastoid- AKA not the smaller neck muscles we are trying to target!
Posture exercise #3: Pectoralis(Chest) Doorway Stretch
What: Complete 3 rounds of 30 second holds
Why: Tight chest muscles pull your shoulders into the infamous rounded position associated with bad posture
How: Stand in a doorway, bend your elbows to 90 degrees (like goal posts!), place your hands on the door frame, and take a step forward to feel a stretch in your chest and shoulders! Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 2 times!
Pro tip: For a less intense stretch, take a smaller step forward, or for a more intense stretch, take a bigger step forward! Make sure to keep your shoulders relaxed.
In addition to doing these posture exercises, focusing on keeping a good posture while you sit and work can help you improve your posture over time. Bonus? Doing this is also a great way to flex your mindful muscles and increase your mindfulness.
If you’re looking to take a holistic approach to improving your health, sign up for your 14-day Noom trial today!