Five exercises to do at home to correct your posture

Working from home has very both benefits and disadvantages. While some people prefer freedom and flexibility to manage their own schedule, others don’t have the ergonomic equipment they left at the office. No adapted chair, no adjustable screen, sometimes not even a suitable desk…

We sit all day, more or less comfortably, at best on a classic office chair, at worst slumped on the sofa. This is terrible for our posture and for the musculoskeletal balance, especially when one does not leave the house for the whole day, for weeks. The good news is that it is possible to compensate for this bad posture by practising certain stretches regularly throughout the day.

Zaineb Ali, a certified Pilates instructor talks to us about posture and its connection to overall health.

What are the benefits of good posture

  • Keeps bones and joints in the correct alignment so that the muscles are used properly
  • Helps decrease the abnormal wearing of joints surface that could result in arthritis
  • Decreases the stress on ligaments holding the joints of the spine together
  • Prevents the spine from becoming fixed in abnormal positions
  • Prevents fatigue because the muscles are being used more efficiently allowing the body to use less energy
  • Prevents strain from continuous use
  • Prevents back pain and muscular pain
  • Contributes to a good appearance

Why does bad posture happen?
Today posture-related problems are increasing because we have become more technology-driven with more time spent seated than the previous generation, working at sedentary jobs in front of computers or staring at their phone the whole time.

Poor posture is a result of a combination of several factors, including:

  • Careless sitting standing sleeping habits
  • Poor sleep support (low-quality mattress)
  • Being overweight
  • Foot problems or improper shoes
  • Weak muscles muscle imbalance or tightness
  • Accidents injuries and falls

How the coronavirus pandemic affects posture?
Bad posture can have a very damaging effect on your physical health joint problems fatigue headaches etc. not to mention your physical appearance. A recent study also tried to prove that sitting in a bad posture (slumped seated position) can influence your thought process stress level and self-confidence and came up with a revealing conclusion.

Adopting an upright posture in the face of stress can maintain self-esteem reduces negative mood and increase positive mood compared to a slumped posture. Furthermore, sitting upright increases the rate of speech and reduces self-focus. Chances are if you work at a desk all day, your posture is bound to produce a negative result, and it could be harming your career, too.

The key to fixing a bad posture is to stretch the tight muscles and strengthen the week muscles. Correcting your posture may feel awkward at first because your body has become so used to sitting and standing in a particular way. But with regular and right strengthening and stretching exercises under a certified practitioner, your body will get back to its neutral position.

WHY SHOULD YOU STRIVE FOR PROPER POSTURE?
Even when we know that some of our habits lead to poor posture, many of us do nothing to correct our posture. This is because we don’t know the negative impact of poor posture.

Soreness and pain: Poor posture puts your body’s support system (your muscles and skeleton) in unnatural positions. This unnatural position causes misalignment of the spine, resulting in pain in the affected areas.

Poor posture also misaligns your body’s natural weight distribution, which means that some of your muscles and bones have to bear more weight than they are supposed to.

Five exercises you could do to improve your posture at home:

SAW BEGINNERS METHOD

  • Sit up with your legs spread shoulder-width apart
  • With your arms straight out to your sides, inhale twist to your left
  • Stretch your right hand towards your left foot and pulse three times exhaling
  • Roll up in the twist, untwist and return to the centre
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • Do this sequence 4-5 times.

How will it improve posture?
The Saw exercise uses the deep abdominal muscles to pull your upper torso forward, a practice that helps you learn to initiate movement from your body’s centre. Not only does this move strengthen your back, but it will also improve posture.

BREASTSTROKE BEGINNERS METHOD
Lie on your stomach with legs extended and pointed and palms towards your hips. To prepare, inhale and gently draw low abdominals in and up from the mat imagining scorching hot lava under your belly button exhale and lift your head neck and shoulder in a hover position. Inhale to stay keeping your head neck spine in one long line exhale to return Reach through the crown of the head and imagine holding a large apple between the chest and throat to keep cervical spine lengthened and in alignment with the entire body. Visualize drawing the scapulae together and down slightly to avoid overworking through the upper traps.

Repeat five times.

How will it improve posture?
This exercise helps restore the spine to its neutral posture and strengthen the upper back muscles and tones the core muscles.

PLANK INTERMEDIATE METHOD

  • Start by lying face down on the floor, with your legs and feet together and your palms alongside your shoulders in a pushup position.
  • Raise yourself up onto your forearms, such that your elbow and the rest of your forearm is touching the ground
  • Lift your lower body and knees such that only your forearms and toes remain touching the ground. Engage your abdominal and pelvic muscles to ensure that the lower back is not overextending. At this point, your legs, your spine, your shoulders, and your neck should be in one long line, with your gaze between your palms.
  • Hold the position for a while as you breathe in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth. For starters, try to hold the position for about 30 seconds. You can gradually increase the length of time as your core becomes stronger.
  • A strong core is very important for developing good posture, and this simple exercise is one of the best ways to strengthen your core.
  • Ensure you’re not pushing the weight forward on your wrist, let the abdominals take the load.

How will this help improve posture?
The plank strengthens the several abdominal muscles, including the internal and external oblique’s, the rectus abdominis (the six-pack muscles), as well as the erector spinae muscles on your back, the glutes, and the muscles on your shoulders.

SHOULDER BRIDGE BEGINNERS METHOD

  • Lie on your back with your hands at your sides, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor under your knees.
  • Engage your abdominal and buttock muscles by pushing your low back into the ground before you push up. Think of crushing a tomato under your lower spine
  • Raise your hips to create a straight line from your knees to shoulders.
  • Squeeze your core and pull your belly button back toward your spine
  • Return to your starting position.
  • Complete at least ten reps.

How does it help improve posture?
Bridging strengthens the posterior chain of the body, which means the glutes, hamstrings and spine erectors. It also increases hip flexor length and improves hip extension. These often become tight and painful due to the hunched-up desk-bound posture, which is so commonly problematic. On top of all that, the bridge activates deep stabilizer muscles, promotes better body awareness and aids relaxation. Now make sure the weight is not on your neck, and you’re not arching your lower back.

SIDE BEND INTERMEDIATE METHOD
Sit on your right hip with your right arm supporting your torso away from the side of your body. Inhale lift your hips high up to the ceiling reaching your top hand overhead, creating a rainbow shape in your spine. Exhale reverse the movement so that you end up in the starting position on the mat.

Repeat 5 times on each side

Note: engage your core so that your wrist is not bearing the weight.

How does it improve posture?
Side bends help to improve lumbopelvic stability, provides lower back pain relief and trim your love handles. An unstable lumbopelvic area will lead to an acute lower back injury. A deep side bend also helps to open up the sides of your ribs which helps you to breathe properly and improves your posture by lengthening your spine and making you look taller.     

– as told to Anisha