good vs bad posture

8 Simple Exercises to Improve Your Posture and Reduce Back Pain

Posture is important. It helps you stand taller and have a more confident presence when you walk into a room. Good posture also helps prevent one of the most common adult afflictions: Back pain. Thankfully, there are plenty of posture exercises you can do to help keep you standing tall and pain-free.

Advertisement

Posture Exercises to Help Prevent Back Pain

Improving posture and relieving back pain is all about strengthening certain muscles and stretching others. To make it easier for you, we’ve split this up into a “posture stretches” section and a “posture exercises” section.

Advertisement

Stretches for Better Posture

Much of our bad posture comes from the amount of time we spend sitting either typing at a computer, driving, or sitting on the couch playing with our phones. We tend to sit slightly slouched and our hips and chest get quite tight. 

Advertisement

These posture stretches will help to lengthen those muscles back out. You can do these at any point during the day, as well as before and after your workout.

Advertisement

1. Cat-Cow

This stretch will help to loosen up your spine and relieve built-up tension in your shoulders, neck, and torso. (1)

Advertisement

You can also do a standing version of this stretch:

Advertisement

This version of the move will help to relax your back, hips, and glutes.

Advertisement

2. Chest Openers

Our chest gets very tight from our daily activities. This pulls the shoulders inward and rounds the upper back. Perform these chest stretches to help open your chest back up. (1)

Advertisement

Standing:

Advertisement

With a band:

Advertisement

Using a wall corner:

Using a flat wall:

3. Downward Facing Dog

One of the most commonly-known yoga moves, this will both lengthen out your hamstrings and calf muscles as well as stretch your chest and shoulders. (1)

4. Pigeon Pose

This stretch targets multiple areas, including your hips, glutes, hamstrings, and spine. It can also help anyone who has problems with sciatic nerve pain. (1)

5. Thoracic Spine Rotation

The thoracic spine rotational stretch will not only relieve lower back tension, but it will help your chest and shoulders to open up further. (1)

6. Hamstring Stretches

You sit on your hamstrings all day long. Give them a good stretch-out with these easy-to-do towel stretches. (2)

7. Child’s Pose

Child’s pose is another popular yoga pose that helps to lengthen the spine, open the chest, and relieve neck and shoulder tension. (1)

Read: 21 Older People Who Look Much Younger Than Their Age (Photos)

Posture Exercises for Back Pain

Now that you know what stretches to do, we must address the other part of the problem: Weakness in certain areas of the body. (2) These areas often include:

  • Upper and lower back
  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Core

Strengthening those areas will help you to have better posture and will relieve the constant pressure in your lower back. 

Follow the videos provided and always ensure that you are using the correct form for each exercise. If you are too tired to do the correct form, stop. Doing posture exercises, or any exercise improperly will only do more harm than good.

1. Partial Crunches

Done lying on your back looking towards the ceiling with your feet flat on the floor, this classic exercise will strengthen both your core and your back. (2)

2. Wall Sits

Wall sits target the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. The wall also acts as a guide for you to keep your spine straight throughout the exercise. Start off holding this position for only 10 to 20 seconds for several rounds until you can hold for one to two minutes without stopping. (2)

3. Press-Up Back Extensions

This is a gentle exercise that will target your core and back muscles. (2)

4. Bird Dog

This is an exercise that you want to take slowly, as it is all about stability. In this one, imagine that you have a tennis ball on your back and you don’t want it to fall off. This will force you to properly engage your core, back, and glute muscles. (2)

5. Pelvic Tilts

Your pelvis and the muscles around it are part of your core. When those muscles are weak, your lower back won’t be properly supported and eventually, you will experience pain. Keep them strong using this exercise. (2)

6. Glute Bridges

We often don’t think about it in this way, but our glutes are actually an important part of our core. Unfortunately, most of us sit on them all day long, causing them to become inactive. Glute bridges are one of the best activation and strengthening exercises for your glutes and your core. (2)

7. Planks

A strong core will support and hold up the rest of your body. Make sure you hit all sides to have a well-rounded core. (1)

8. Shoulder Squeezes

We spend so much time with our arms in front of us gripping a steering wheel or typing on a laptop that often our muscles surrounding our shoulders blades become weak from lack of use. Do this shoulder blade squeeze to help activate and regain some strength. (3)

Final Thoughts on Posture Exercises and Back Pain

A well-rounded exercise routine that includes resistance training, cardiovascular activity, and mobility exercises is your best way to prevent back pain and have your body feeling good. Our bodies were built to move in a variety of different ways, so don’t be afraid to try something new (being careful, of course) and challenge your body a bit.

Keep Reading: Easy Exercises That Help Keep Your Mind Sharp at Any Age

Sources

  1. 12 Exercises to Improve Your Posture.” Healthline. Emily Cronkleton. May 29, 2020
  2. 11 Exercises for Lower Back Pain Relief.” On Health. January 18, 2019.
  3. 4 ways to turn good posture into less back pain.” Harvard. April 18, 2020.
Julie Hambleton
Freelance Writer
Julie Hambleton has a BSc in Food and Nutrition from the Western University, Canada, is a former certified personal trainer and a competitive runner. Julie loves food, culture, and health, and enjoys sharing her knowledge to help others make positive changes and live healthier lives.
Advertisement