The best posture improvement exercises are chosen on an individual basis, as the exercises focus on treating the exact cause of poor posture, rather than just general strength and flexibility. There are, however, certain exercises that can help most people. Strengthening the abdomen muscles is important for posture; some examples of posture improvement exercises in this category include sit ups, crunches and back extensions on a medicine ball. Stretching tight muscles in the shoulders, back and hips also can help improve posture.
One of the most common causes of poor posture is tight chest muscles, combined with weak upper back muscles. If the muscles of the chest don’t have the required flexibility, this can pull the shoulders forward and create a hunched appearance. A forward head is another common sign of tight chest muscles. Posture improvement exercises to fix this include the reverse fly exercise and shoulder rolls.
Core strength exercises can help build strength in the muscles around the stomach. Some examples of posture improvement exercises for the core muscles include the bridge, crunches and back extensions. The bridge, an exercise that works the core and gluteus muscles, is performed with the person on his or her back with the knees up. Slowly, the abdomen and gluteus muscles are tightened, bringing the hips upward until there is a straight line from knee to head. The pelvic tilt is another common example, which provides similar benefit to the hips.
Posture improvement exercises don’t have to be strenuous. For example, one stretching exercise called the chin glide uses small movements to help prevent craning of the neck. To perform this exercise, the stretcher clenches his or her jaw and gently moves the head backward, ensuring that it doesn’t tilt.
A common mistake when attempting to correct poor posture, is to focus on the upper back and shoulder muscles. Hip flexibility and strength exercises are also important, as the muscles provide a solid base for the upper body. Stretches for muscles such as the hip flexors, hamstrings and lower back can all help with poor posture as well.
It’s important for posture improvement exercises to be performed with good form at all times. This isn’t just to help prevent injury, but also to train the muscles to work in the correct way. Typically, an exercise should be repeated between 10-20 times a set, with one or two sets performed on a daily basis. The number of repetitions may have to be increased slowly, however, depending on the fitness of the person with poor posture.