Improve Your Posture with Two Simple, At-Home Exercises
Exercise is often portrayed as gruelling and time consuming, but you really don’t need to do that much to achieve a healthy level of strength and function. Doing a little bit of the right exercise is better for you than doing a lot of the wrong exercise.
The two exercises below are favourites amongst my clients because they don’t take much time, they don’t need any equipment and they specifically address the problems caused by excessive sitting. If you suffer from back pain and poor posture, you can use these simple exercises to reduce your symptoms and build your strength from the comfort of your home.
When you sit, you put your body in an L shape that tightens the muscles that run along the front of your hips and thighs while lengthening those along the back. Over time, this can cause tightness in your quads and hip flexors, while your glutes, lower back muscles and hamstrings become weak and inhibited from being lengthened and inactive for extended periods.
This imbalance means that when you stand, your muscles continue to try and pull your pelvis into that sitting posture, spilling the “bowl” of your hips forward, which can cause lower back pain, knee pain and maladaptive movement patterns when walking or running.
The Glute Bridge specifically targets this sitting-related imbalance by stretching the muscles that are usually tight and engaging those that are usually lengthened, with particular focus on the glute muscles which are essential for providing power and stability for your pelvis.
To do this exercise, lie on your back with your arms at your side, your palms up, your knees raised and your feet flat against the ground. Squeeze a pillow or a rolled towel between your knees, but make sure your knees aren’t further than hip-width apart.
Once you’re in position, raise your hips up into the air without releasing your grip on the object between your knees until your torso and thighs form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Hold this position for a moment, then slowly lower your backside down to the ground. If you have very tight hip flexors and thighs, you may not be able to raise all the way, but go as far as you can.
Start by doing this exercise ten times a day, then gradually increase your repetitions until you’re doing an amount equal to your age. So, if you’re 40 years old, your goal would be to reach 40 repetitions a day.
The other common problem caused by excessive sitting is slouched shoulders, of which upper back and shoulder blade weakness is a big contributor. An easy exercise to straighten out a slouch is the Prone Cobra.
Again, you want to start by lying flat on the ground, but this time on your front. Place your arms by your side with your palms against the ground and thumbs pointed outwards. Your chin should be slightly tucked with your nose raised just slightly off the ground.
Then, you lift your hands off the floor as high as you can without shrugging your shoulders or activating your lower back. Your chin will raise slightly, but try not to raise it too high as this means your lower back is kicking in and you want to be focusing on your shoulders. You should feel your shoulder blades come together but not quite pinch, as this will cause a shrug.
Once your hands are as high as you can get them, hold this position for 30 seconds, rest, then repeat two times. Gradually build your times up to a minute then a minute and a half as your body adapts to the exercise. Combined with the glute bridge, these two exercises alone can make a tremendous difference to your strength and posture without you needing to commit much time or even leave your house.
These are just two examples of the simple, effective exercises that I include in my programmes. I believe most people can benefit from Glute Bridges and Prone Cobras, but more specific problems need specific programmes that target your issues without clashing with your lifestyle and goals. If you think you could benefit from focused functional training, you can click here to read more about what I do or get in touch with me by calling 0207 937 1628 or emailing email@example.com.