“STRAIGHTEN up!” “Sit up, don't slouch!” These are two commands you may have heard time and time again, a warning that you might not have heeded because it is more comfortable to slouch and relax than be upright and stiff.
But good posture not only gives you a confident look, but it helps with keeping your balance and preventing some health problems. Slouching is a bad habit that can have negative effects on your body.
“Some of us go through our lives with hunchbacks and imbalanced hips that cause us pain. We ignore living with a bad posture, but it can be a dangerous thing. The muscle and ligament imbalances that result from poor alignment can lead to all sorts of problems such as chronic back, neck and shoulder pain, foot, knee, hip and back injuries, headaches, stiffness, fatigue, muscle atrophy (muscles waste away), weakness, difficulty breathing, and digestion issues,” fitness expert Rohan Gordon explained to All Woman.
For those who are affected, Gordon says there are exercises that can help to improve posture and relieve some of the misery that you go through with bad posture. He cautions that these exercises must be done with perfect form to avoid back injury. Check with your doctor before attempting any of these exercises.
1. Rear delt row
Stand up straight while holding a barbell. Afterwards, bend your knees slightly and bend over as you keep the natural arch of your back. Let your arms hang in front of you as you hold the bar. Once your torso is parallel to the floor, flare the elbows out and away from your body. Your torso and your arms should resemble the letter 'T'. Pull the barbell up towards your chest as you squeeze the rear delts and breathe out. Refrain from using your biceps to do the work. Slowly go back to the initial position as you breathe in. You can aim for three to four sets and this exercise can be done using a Smith machine or a T-bar row.
2. Deadlift exercise
Stand in front of a barbell using the weight that the trainer or physician recommends. Keeping your back as straight as possible, bend your knees, bend forward and grasp the bar using a medium shoulder-width overhand grip. While holding the bar, you should start the lift by pushing with your legs while simultaneously getting your torso to the upright position as you breathe out. In the upright position, stick your chest out and bring your shoulder blades back. Think of how the soldiers in the military look when they are standing at attention. Go back to the starting position by bending at the knees while simultaneously leaning your torso forward at the waist while keeping your back straight. When the weights on the bar touch the floor you are back at the starting position and ready to perform another repetition. Do three to four sets of 12 reps using the recommended weights.
3. Hanging leg raise
Hang from a chin-up bar with both arms extended at arm's length above you, using either a wide grip or a medium grip. Your legs should be straight down with the pelvis rolled slightly backwards. Raise your legs until your torso makes a 90-degree angle with the legs. Exhale as you perform this movement and hold the position for five seconds. Go back slowly to the starting position as you breathe in. Do four sets of this move.
4. Kneeling hip flexor
Kneel on a mat and bring your right knee up so the bottom of your foot is on the floor, and extend your left leg out behind you so the top of your foot is on the floor. Shift your weight forward until you feel a stretch in your hip, after which you will hold the position for five seconds, then repeat for your other side.
5. Pyramid stretch over ball
Roll your torso forward onto the ball so your hips rest on top of the ball and become the highest point of your body. As soon as you have done that you should rest your hands and feet on the floor. Your arms and legs can be slightly bent or straight.
6. Quadriceps self-myofascial release
Lie face down on the floor with your weight supported by your hands or forearms. Place a foam roll underneath one leg on the quadriceps, and keep the foot off the ground. Make sure to relax the leg as much as possible. You should shift as much weight onto the leg as you can tolerate. Roll over the foam from above the knee to below the hip, and hold the points of tension for 10 to 30 seconds, then switch sides.