Maintain Your Posture in the Computer Age with These 4 Exercises
It’s hard to maintain good body posture when you’re all but hunched over your desk or computer all day long. We said it’s going to be hard but we never said it couldn’t be done. Here are some of the best exercises to improve posture (and maybe lose a pound or two).
1. Arm and Leg Extensions on All Fours
This is a Pilates move (only 1 out of 600!) that works to strengthen your core and gradually improve balance. This move not only strengthens the core but strengthens the muscles that support the lumbar spine as well. Weakness in these muscle groups tend to translate to poor posture and a lot of back pain after a hard day at work. Yikes!
WHAT YOU WILL NEED: Optional mat or a soft place to work out on, like carpeted floors.
HOW TO DO IT: Get on all fours. Hands should be beneath your shoulders and shoulder width apart. The same goes for your knees, they should be right beneath your hips and hip-width apart. Stabilize your spine by putting it in a neutral position, neither convex nor concave but straight. Start by extending your left arm in front of you. The upper arm should be level to your ear. Strengthen your core by contracting/tensing them and then slowly lift the opposite leg (right) to hip level, parallel to the ground. Repeat on the other side and breathe deep.
2. Thoracic Bridge
This is a great stretch and strength move developed by Max Shank and featured in Jamesclear.com. He developed this mobility exercise to benefit the shoulders, the anterior hips and the back. These are all the parts of our body that suffer the most when sitting down facing a computer the whole day. By doing this stretch regularly you will increase flexibility and mobility of your shoulder and anterior hip flexors and you will gain strength in your back.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED: Mat or soft flooring.
HOW TO DO IT: Get on all fours, but in a sort of a crawling position with your knees hovering over the ground while you stabilize with your toes and the ball of your feet. Lift your left hand and foot at the same time and slowly pivot upwards into a bridge position where instead of being on all fours your body is facing the ceiling. Keep the right shoulder down and drive your hip up (like you would in a regular bridge), all the while facing your torso to the right. Come back to the starting position and do it on the other side.
3. Anterior Hip Muscle Stretch
A lot of us who are always sitting down for work will notice that our hips are not as flexible as they used to be. Stiffness in our anterior hip muscles can seriously affect our postures by limiting the mobility in our stride. To improve our posture and prevent injury it is important to stretch these muscles. This stretch is also great for relieving back pain and aligning our hips.
WHAT YOU NEED: Mat or a cushion beneath your knees.
HOW TO DO IT: Kneel down, back straight and shoulders down. Place your right leg in front of you in a 90 degree angle. Put your hands behind your head and push your hips forward. This will help stretch your anterior hip muscles in the left while lengthening your back and working your right hamstring. Hold for 30 seconds before switching to the other side.
4. Seated Rows with Bands
We’re always hunching our backs while sitting down, so it is important to keep our upper back muscles strong to prevent our posture from suffering too much.
WHAT YOU NEED: Resistance bands.
HOW TO DO IT: Sit on the floor with knees slightly bent. Legs should be hip-width apart or wider if you want more of a challenge. Back straight, abs in, and heels on the floor. Loop the band around the soles of your feel and cross the handles over your shins so that the left handle is in your right hand and the right handle is in your left. Palms should be facing down. Pull your hands towards your chest so that at the end of the move your hands are near your armpit and your shoulder blades are close together.