These Exercises Will Help You Reap the Health Benefits of Good Posture

These Exercises Will Help You Reap the Health Benefits of Good Posture

Putting in the effort to improve your posture has huge payoffs.

But what is good posture really?

“Good posture is also known as neutral spine. When we have good posture, the muscles surrounding the spine are balanced and supporting the body equally,” explains Nina Strang, physical therapist and certified strengthening and conditioning specialist at the University of Michigan.

Here’s a quick posture check-in: When sitting, your feet should rest flat on the floor, with even weight on both hips. Your back should be mostly straight (you’ll have natural curves in your lumbar, thoracic, and cervical areas). Your shoulders should be back but relaxed and your ears should line up over your collarbones.

When standing, your legs should have a slight knee bend so you’re not hyperextending or locking your knee joints, says Kara Griffith, exercise physiologist at Colorado Canyons Hospital & Medical Center.

Now that we know what good posture is, here are 12 key benefits along with tips to achieve them.

1. Reduced low back pain
Sitting or standing in a slouched position for prolonged periods of time stresses your lower back. More specifically, it puts pressure on the posterior structures of the spine, including the intervertebral discs, facet points, ligaments, and muscles, explains Strang.

Do bridges to strengthen your lower back
Bridges strengthen and engage your gluteal and abdominal muscles, so your body relies on them instead of stressing your lower back.

via Gfycat

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, instructs Strang. Tighten your core without changing your back position. “Lift your hips and lower torso off of the ground by contracting your gluteus maximus muscles.” Slowly lower your hips back down.

Posture tip: Move around frequently—every 20 to 30 minutes is recommendedTrusted Source. “No one is able to sit with perfect posture all of the time; it takes a lot of strength to do so. When you feel your muscles tiring, or yourself slowly slouching, get up and move around,” encourages Strang.

What to look for: Don’t anticipate a decrease in lower back pain on your first day. “Posture is something that you should expect to work at your whole life,” says Strang.

By stretching your chest, and strengthening your core and upper back muscles, you’ll see gradual but noticeable pain reduction.

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