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How to Straighten Back Posture

by Benna Crawford

If you’re constantly sloughing when you’re sitting behind the computer or seemingly admiring your pedicure when you walk, maybe it’s time to straighten up. Slouching does nothing for your appearance – it throws your abdomen and pelvis forward, misaligns your spine, causes injuries and can make you look shorter. If this motivates you to correct your posture and to combat sloughing, learn how to do various exercises including Pilates and yoga moves to straighten your back.

Step 1

Stand with feet about shoulder width apart. Relax the shoulders and straighten the spine by imagining a string pulling from the tailbone through the crown of the head. Contract your navel toward your spine while maintaining this posture.

Step 2

Spread feet jumping jacks width apart and raise your arms out to your sides at shoulder height. Lower the left arm to the thigh as you raise the right arm to the sky, palm facing in. Bend slowly to the left, moving the left arm down the leg for stability and keeping the right arm close to the head. Hold the low-point of the stretch for a count of three and then slowly return to standing. Alternate sides, breathing evenly and really feeling the stretch.

Step 3

Keep the feet apart, the navel drawn into the spine and the shoulders down. Raise the arms to shoulder height and turn the head to look at the right hand. Now twist the upper body to follow the right hand as it moves behind you. Feel the slow stretch as you perform one smooth movement, ending up back at center. Repeat the exercise to the same side and then alternate for two stretches to the opposite side.

Step 4

Face front, feet still apart and arms raised out to the sides at shoulder height. Check that the navel is drawn into the spine and the head is erect but the shoulders and neck are not tense. Keep the arms to the side but raise the forearms and hands to the “hands up” position, palms facing front. Your arms should form 90 degree angles. Twist the top half of the body, bringing the left elbow toward the right knee as you raise the right knee to a 90 degree angle. This is almost a marching movement. Keep marching at a moderate pace, alternating sides and breathing evenly for at least 15 to 30 seconds.

Step 5

Use the back stretches and warm up to prepare for more back exercises in a full workout or take an office break and do them to relax and free the back. To improve posture, sit in your desk chair by placing the buttocks against the back of the chair and slumping into a slouch. Then draw yourself up tall, pull the navel to the backbone and exaggerate the arch of the spine. Relax the spine slightly into a healthy sitting posture -- only about 10 percent. Your feet should be flat on the floor with your knees at hip height or slightly above the hips. Don’t cross your legs and don’t sit in the same position for more than 30 minutes at a time.

Items you will need

  • Sneakers and gym clothes (optional)
  • Ergonomically-designed desk chair (optional but a good idea)

Tips

  • Exercising with poor posture will reinforce the muscles in that posture. Get some posture exercises from the personal trainers at your gym to add to your fitness routine.
  • Some people swear by exercise ball chairs to replace traditional desk chairs. The exercise balls force the back and core muscles to make constant minute adjustments to maintain balance.
  • Try sleeping on your back on a firm mattress to improve posture.

Warning

  • Consult a doctor before starting a new stretching or exercise routine, especially if you've been inactive or have an injury or health condition.

Photo Credits:

  • Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.