We are not all naturally blessed with great posture and alignment, so here are some great posture and alignment exercises that you can start doing right away to improve on what you have.
What Causes Bad Posture?
There are different things that can impact our posture, including occupational activities. Repetition of daily activities leads to bad habits forming. Stressful jobs can lead to neck and shoulder problems while people that drive a lot can develop lower back problems.
The most common types of bad posture are:
- an elevated or rounded shoulders with a pushed-forward head position, which places stress on the spine between the top and base of the neck and upper shoulders.
- a forward tilting of the hips, which results in an increase in the curve of the lumbar spine and a protruding tummy, which stresses the lower back and the hip joints.
Exercise No. 1
This floor exercise will help you to feel your way to correct alignment. Work slowly and carefully, and you will feel that the differences between the steps are subtle but significant.
Start this posture and alignment exercise by lying on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet flat on the floor parallel to each other and hip distance apart. Your feet should be quite near to your buttocks. Extend your arms along the floor so that your fingers are in line with your hips.
Breathe deeply, and as you exhale press your belly button towards your lower back and press your lower back into the floor, thus executing a pelvic tilt. Keep breathing deeply and concentrate on that long feeling in your back.
Next reach overhead with your arms, making sure to keep your lower back flat on the floor and don’t let your chest pop out. Release your lower back until it assumes a natural curve slightly away from the floor.
Press your back into the floor once again and stretch your legs along the floor until they are fully extended. All this time, you should be keeping your back as flat as possible.
Try to keep your back controlled as you pull your feet back towards your buttocks and return your arms to starting position.
Repeat the above sequence about three or four times.
Exercise No. 2
Here is an exercise for the alignment of your upper torso. These movements may seem very easy, but will do wonders for your alignment.
Lie on your back once again with your knees bent and the soles your feet on the floor as above. Place your hands on top of your hip bones, and rest your elbows on the floor next to you.
Now keep your elbows on the floor and push them further out to the side away from your body, keeping your hands on top of your hip bones (the movement will be subtle). Hold for a moment and then release and repeat. You should feel your upper back open and expand.
Next keeping your elbows on the floor and your back long, lift your shoulders towards the ceiling. Hold for a moment and then release and repeat. You should feel the back of your neck stretching and lengthening.
Next assume the same position as above and lift your rib cage towards the ceiling, allowing your back to arch. Try to keep your hips and shoulders as still as possible while doing this. Hold the position, then release and repeat.
Although the above two exercises are quite simple, you will be amazed at the awareness that they will bring to help your posture and alignment if you do them regularly.
Here is another helpful resource by Dr. Josh Axe where he give you some more great ideas on posture and alignment exercises.