Back Exercises for Better Posture
STAND UP FOR SELF-CARE
In February, Higher Health is focusing all the Valentine’s love into the most important act of kindness: self-care. Self-care means treating your mind, body and spirit with intentional compassion.
Often, treating yourself can mean a relaxing massage, a warm bath or even a simple goal to stay hydrated. While these typical techniques are absolutely encouraged, we want to step outside the box with our next self-love lesson: improving your posture.
THE BENEFITS OF STANDING TALL
Good posture is all about balance. When we have good posture, the muscles surrounding the spine are balanced and supporting the body equally, creating a neutral spine. Unfortunately, our days are full of activities to throw our spines out of that sweet spot. The journey to better posture involves relieving the areas of our back that are over-worked and strengthening their counterparts to achieve balance.
How exactly does posture translate to self-love? Improved posture can not only reduce back pain, headaches and tension in the neck and shoulders, but it also can lead to increased energy and confidence. What’s not to love about that? By increasing flexibility and strength in the back, you can align your spine to properly support your body. Take the time each week to work those back muscles and your body will thank you!
Rightfully named, this heroic exercise is key to relieve shoulder tension and build strength in your entire posterior chain. Every day, we engage in activities that draw our bodies forward and inward. Visualize your day-to-day. When you are texting, typing, reading or even cooking, the head is forward and down, the shoulders are pulled in, and the entire spine is crunched forward. To achieve the balance we discussed earlier, this exercise draws the shoulders back and builds strength in the lower back.
To start, lay face-down on the ground. Place your arms out above your head with palms facing the floor. Lift your arms and legs a few inches off the ground. Your abdomen and hips should stay pressed against the floor. Squeeze your glutes to help draw up the legs, and keep your head pointed towards the ground (no looking left or right!). Hold this position for 20 seconds and return to a lying position to rest for one minute. Complete three rounds of this exercise 3-5 times a day to strengthen your back.
Remember, this exercise is to relieve back pain and improve alignment- not to work up a sweat! Know your limits and listen to your body.
This next exercise helps to align and develop the stabilizing muscles of the back that play a pivotal role in perfect posture. Bird Dogs build strength in your back, shoulders, and glutes to enable better posture control and even relieve lower back pain.
Start the exercise by going down on all fours, knees positioned under hips and palms resting on the ground beneath the shoulders. Engage your core and keep your back flat and parallel to the ground- don’t let your back arch!
Once you are in position, reach your right hand up in front of you and your left leg out behind you in one fluid motion. Squeeze your glutes and engage your core to create a straight line parallel to the ground with your arm, torso and leg. Hold this position for 3-5 seconds. Return to the starting position. Next, complete the motion with your left arm and right leg. Complete 10 reps on each side, then rest.
Remember to keep your core engaged, your back flat and your shoulders square to the ground while performing the movement. Repeat this exercise three times a day and you’re on your way to strong posture!
Side Plank Reach Through
Our backs perform three main movements- extension, flexion and rotation. The Superman and Bird Dog exercises work extension and flexion. Next, let’s focus on improving rotation coordination as well.
Side plank with a reach through is a dynamic movement that increases strength through your upper back, shoulders and obliques. The reach through improves back rotation, coordination and flexibility. While it’s slightly trickier than the previous two, mastering this movement improves overall core stability to benefit upright posture.
Lie on your side with your bottom elbow on the floor and your feet stacked. Lift your hips off the ground so your body forms a straight line from ankles to shoulder. Raise your top arm up above you so it is perpendicular to the ground. Consider this the starting position.
Keeping your torso stable and your hips lifted, reach the top arm underneath you and past your hips. Return to the starting position. Repeat this movement 10 times, then re-position yourself to work the opposite side for 10 repetitions. Repeat 3-4 sets of 10 reps on each side.
Caring for Your Future Self
Building strength requires patience and commitment. While you may not feel the same instant joy brought by a pedicure or warm bath, dedicating yourself to a stronger body is a long-term investment in loving yourself. Great posture and a strong core can prevent future aches and pains and lead to a higher quality of life.
As you exercise, remember that every body type is different. Schedule a check up to have a professional evaluate your back and spine health. Feel free to ask your chiropractor about which exercises would best benefit you on your journey to improved posture! Listen to your body, build those back muscles, relax your shoulders and look forward to a future of increased energy and confidence.