Here are five easy exercises you can do to improve your posture at any age:
1) Pectoral stretch: Interlock your hands behind your back, keeping your arms straight while pulling your hands down towards to ground. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for five seconds while keeping your body in an upright position. You should feel a comfortable stretch through your chest. Do this several times each day.
What it does: By releasing tight pectoral muscles, the shoulders will visibly drop and move backward, combatting the rounded hunch effect that can happen with poor posture. With this exercise you are not only stretching your chest muscles that can pull you in, you are strengthening your back muscles that will help hold you in a more upright position.
2) Thoracic extension: Stand or sit in a chair and clasp both hands behind your head. Gently arch backward, squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for five seconds. You should feel a comfortable stretch through your chest. Do this several times each day.
What it does: This reduces hunching in the middle back and opens up the chest. This can help to alleviate neck and upper back pain and will help correct a slouched forward posture.
3) Pelvis tilt: Lie down with your back on the floor, knees bent and feet planted on the ground. Put one hand behind the small of your back. Tilt your pelvis so that you squish your hand into the floor. Hold this for five seconds to complete a pelvic tilt. After practicing this movement while lying on the ground, try doing it standing.
What it does: Often a result of too much sitting, tight hip flexor muscles cause your pelvis to tilt forward and cause you to bend forward. When you have tight hip flexors you will find it hard to straighten up and will likely suffer from back pain. This little exercise helps to bring your pelvis (and stomach!) back into alignment and also reduces back pain by engaging your core and pelvic muscles.
4) Back bends: Stand with your feet planted firmly on the ground and your hands behind your hips for support. Look up to the ceiling and take a deep breath in. As you exhale, slowly and gently bend backwards to the point where you can maintain your balance. Take a few breaths while you’re in the back bend, then slowly come back up to standing. As you feel more comfortable with this exercise you can bring your arms overhead while you bend.
What it does: This is an ideal exercise to do every time you get up from a seated position. It takes pressure off your spine, which reduces lower back pain, while also improving a hunched appearance. Looking up to the ceiling corrects misaligned forward head posture too, making you look longer and leaner and relieving neck pain.
5) Hamstring stretch: While standing, place one leg on a chair directly in front of you. The standing leg and the leg on the chair should both be straight and your hips should point forward. Slowly bend forward until you feel a stretch at the back of your leg. Hold for 15-20 seconds and repeat on the other leg.
What it does: Tight hamstrings are one of the main culprits of slouching because they cause your pelvis to tilt backward. By elongating the hamstrings you will instantly look and feel taller.
Extra tip: In addition to these five posture fixes, try to get up from a seated position at least every 45 minutes for a stretch or quick walk.