Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Improve Your Posture

Whether you are sitting behind a desk for 8-9 hours/day or on your feet.  The stress of everyday activities over an extended period of time can impact your posture.  Years of neglecting strength training can contribute to bad posture as muscles deteriorate.  The best way to improve your posture is to focus on exercises that strengthen your core -- the abdominal and low back muscles that connect to your spine and pelvis.  Over time, poor posture takes a toll on your spine, shoulders, hips, and knees. In fact, it can cause a multitude of structural flaws that result in acute problems, such as joint pain throughout your body, reduced flexibility, and compromised muscles, all of which can limit your ability to burn fat and build strength. 

About 80 percent of adults experiences back pain during their lives, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). While your workout can help strengthen your core and relieve back soreness, it may also be the culprit behind the pain if exercises are not performed properly.

"Poor low back posture while lifting can put undue stress on your spine, landing you on the disabled list over time," says BJ Gaddour, C.S.C.S.

A combination of stretches and exercises can improve your posture.  Here are few examples:

 Strength Exercises

Good Morning

Position barbell on back of shoulders and grasp bar to sides.   Keeping back straight, bend hips to lower torso forward until parallel to floor. Raise torso until hips are extended. Repeat.


Most physical activities that do not require standing demand that you perform a squat.    Squats are usually deemed a leg exercise, but they also recruit many other muscles, including your lower back, abdominals, oblique’s and upper back -- the muscles responsible for maintaining good posture. While squats are a highly effective strength and muscle builder, they shouldn't be underestimated as a way of strengthening your lower back and improving posture.

If you’re unsure about your form when performing a squat setup a box or bench behind you.  When performing the squat sit briefly on the bench or box in each rep. Focus on keeping your lower back straight and pulling your shoulder blades back to maintain your lower back position and good upper back posture.


The deadlift works most of the muscles in the legs, lower back and core. It's most commonly associated with building strength and power, but according to, performing the deadlift correctly strengthens the spine, which can improve posture.

Put a barbell in front of you on the ground and grab it using a grip that is a little wider than shoulder width.  Bend the knees slightly and keep the shins vertical, hips back and back straight. This will be your starting position.  Keeping your back and arms completely straight at all times, use your hips to lift the bar as you exhale.   Once you are standing completely straight up, lower the bar by pushing the hips back, only slightly bending the knees, unlike when squatting.


Wall Stretch

Stand with your back against a wall with your feet a couple of feet in front of you and lean back. Try to touch your shoulders, back and butt to the wall simultaneously before slowly tilting your head back to touch the wall as well. If you have poor posture, it will be difficult or impossible to do this, so just go as far as you can and hold it for 30 seconds if you are able.

Hip Flexor Stretch

Standing straight with hands on your hips; step forward with your right foot and slowly bend the knees while keeping your back straight.  You should feel the stretch in your hips after a few seconds. Hold for 5-10 seconds before returning to the starting point and repeat with the opposite leg.  

Remember that a little goes a long way when performing this move. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to work the hip flexors, so go easy when stretching here or you could injure yourself.

Upwards Pelvic Thrust

This is a great exercise for stretching your hips, glutes and hamstrings, as well as your core muscles.
Lie on your back with your legs together and bent upwards at 90 degrees. Keep your arms at your sides and palms facing the floor.  Slowly begin to raise your butt up off the floor until you are forming a straight line with your body from your shoulders down to your knees. Hold this position just for a couple of seconds before returning to the start. Repeat this as many times as you can.
It is important to keep good form during this exercise. Make sure that you keep your head and neck still by not lifting the back of your head off of the floor and focusing on a spot on the ceiling.

Jamaal Piper
Health and Wellness Consultant/Personal Trainer