Theses exercises are a quick and effective way to improve posture. Minimal or no equipment needed for reduction in back pain & shoulder aches.
After spending the last couple of years working from home even more than usual, I’ve found that my posture has suffered. That’s come with back pain, neck and shoulder aches too, all from spending excess time hunched over my laptop in bed, or on the sofa.
I always knew I had limited t-spine (thoracic spine) mobility, but more recently I feel I’m heading towards thoracic kyphosis and limited extension. I need to work on improving my mobility, improve posture as well as opening up my chest and strengthening my back.
I spoke to our resident Sports Therapist, Modestas, and asked him for some exercises to improve posture and undo all the working from bed / sofa, hunching and back ache. They’ve done wonders for me, and I often use them with my Personal Training clients with whom they’ve been a hit.
More From Modestas:
- Foot Pain When Running Caused By Plantar Fasciitis?
- Dealing With Shin Splints – Symptoms & Treatment
- Ankle Strengthening For Runners
- 3 Effective Exercises For Glute Activation
- Managing Knee Pain When Running & Cycling
So I’m also sharing them here for you to try…
5 Movements To Improve Posture
These exercises / movements / stretches are super easy, quick to do and effective. Try to do them once per day in order to see improvements in your posture.
Aim for 12-15 reps per exercise and 30seconds per side of the stretch. Complete 1-2 sets of the 5 movements.
Equipment you’ll need:
- one set of light dumbbells
- a foam roller
- a wall
- a mat or carpeted floor
Dumbbell Reverse Flyes
I typically use dumbbells between 1.5kg and 3kg for these dumbbell reverse flyes. Test the movement to see what weight is best for you – you want to be able to complete the full 2 sets with good form.
You can also do the movement with no dumbbells (as pictured) to start with.
Start by standing with feet shoulder width apart, holding dumbbells then press the hips back in a hinge motion, bringing your chest forward and almost parallel to the floor.
With the weights hanging straight down (palms facing each other) while maintaining a tight core, straight back, and slight knee bend, raise both arms out to your side, keeping a slight bend in your elbows.
Squeeze the shoulder blades together as you pull them toward the spine.
With control, lower the dumbbells back to the start position.
Throughout, keep your shoulders rolled back and down, and keep your chin tucked to maintain a neutral spine during the exercise.
Prone Y Press
A seated Y-press was an exercise / stretch that featured in the Quick Desk Stretches For Neck, Shoulders & Back routine when the effects of working from home first started to become apparent.
Lay on your front on a mat and lift your arms above your head bringing them into a Y shape. Keeping your elbows locked, squeeze your shoulders blades towards each other and hold. You should be able to feel the muscles engage, your arms lift away from the ground, but not your chest. Release and repeat.
Cobra / Upward-Facing Dog
In the post, 5 Yoga Poses for Cyclists, Kelly shared a variation of cobra to strengthen the upper back to combat a common problem for cyclists of rounding in the back over the handle bars.
I remember watching so many pro-cyclists with this thinking this was something hindering my own cycling, when in fact, it’s not ideal.
Start by lying flat on your stomach, with your feet hip-distance apart, toes pointed behind you and hands under shoulders.
Keeping your elbows close to your ribs, Press down with your hands and feet to straighten your arms to lift your chest and hips off the ground
Draw your chest forward and up and roll your shoulders down and back.
Keep your neck neutral and gaze upward.
Exhale and return to start. Repeat for 12-15 repetitions.
Foam Roller Thoracic Extensions
This one has to be my all time favourite movement. It’s one of the mobility exercises that is never not included in Rollin’ With My Foamies.
I’m not the only one that loves this move either – so if it feels good for you, feel free to do a few more than the 12-15 repetitions and do it whenever you feel the need for creating some space in your thoracic spine.
This foam roller from MyProtein is perfect for thoracic extensions, and for those newer to foam rolling.
Begin by laying on your back with your torso facing the ceiling, with knees bent. Place your foam roller just below the bottom of the shoulder blades
You can have your arms placed across your chest, or you can place hands behind the head/neck with the elbows pointing toward the ceiling.
Begin to bend backwards, directing your shoulders and head towards the ground, while keeping feet and hips grounded.
Return back to the start position and repeat for 12-15 repetitions.
You can choose a few different spots along your thoracic spine to complete the repetitions.
Wall Supported Chest Stretch
This chest stretch is a great movement to target the pectoralis minor, which plays a major role in improving posture.
When the pec minor muscle gets tight, it pulls the front of the shoulders forward, which in turn either rounds your back into a kyphosis or increases the rounding that’s already there (Very Well Health)
Choose your wall to use and start in a split stance (one leg in-front of the other)
Bring the arm closest to the wall up to shoulder height and place your palm and inside arm on the wall.
Slowly turn your body away from the wall and gently press the shoes forward to feel the stretch.
Moving your elbow higher or lower will allow you to stretch various sections of the chest.
Hold for 30seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Improve Your Posture With This Routine
- Dumbbell reverse flies
- Prone Y-press
- Cobra / upward facing dog
- Foam roller thoracic extensions
- Wall Supported Chest Stretch
Reps: 12-15 reps or 30s per side for stretch
Sets: 1-1 sets
It doesn’t take more than 5-10 minutes to complete the 2 sets of these exercises to improve posture. You can do them first thing in the morning, at the start of your workout or even before bed.
Have you noticed your posture has deteriorated over the past few years?!
P.S Safety always comes first. If you are new to exercise ensure you seek advice from your GP. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids, wear appropriate clothing and carry out drills in a suitable space. Technique is paramount, and nothing should hurt. Should you experience pain, discomfort, nausea, dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath etc, STOP and consult your GP.