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How Exercise Can Help Your Posture

doctor measuring patients height
doctor measuring patients height

In my most recent blog, "4 Strategies to Improve Posture," I outline ways you can become mindful of your posture during your daily life. Read the full blog here.

For best results, combine those strategies with this "posture perfect" workout! It is counterproductive to be mindful of your posture all day, only to ruin it at the gym.

The details:

The focus of the workout is strengthening your upper back, neck and core, and improving your balance.

If you don't belong to a gym, invest in a resistance band and a doorframe attachment. Use the band to mimic the strength exercises you would do at the gym.

Pick weights or a band that ensures the last few repetitions are an appropriate challenge. Do all three exercises in the circuit back-to-back without resting. Then rest for 30 seconds and repeat. Complete three sets of each circuit.

Modifications and any unconventional exercises are described below. Descriptions for all the exercises can be found here.

Week one and two:

Circuit one

Seated machine row: 12-15 reps

Windshield wipers: 12-15 reps

Drunk walks: 6-10 reps

Circuit two

Lat pull-down: 12-15 reps

Straight-arm lat pull-down: 12-15 reps

Standing stability ball "sweeps": 10 reps each leg

Circuit three

Bird-dog: 6 reps each side

Plank: 20-60 seconds

Side plank: 20-40 seconds

Week three and four:

Circuit one

Single-arm cable row: 12-15 reps

Reverse flys with cables : 12-15 reps

Standing leg lifts on bosu: 15 reps

Circuit two

Lat pull-down: 12-15 reps

Straight-arm lat pull-down: 12-15 reps

Standing stability ball sweeps: 10 reps each leg (option to close your eyes)

Circuit three

Bird-dog: 10 reps each side (option to write your name)

Plank 40-60 seconds

Side plank with leg lifts: 10 reps per leg

Machine rows: If using a band, loop the band through the doorframe attachment and anchor the attachment to the door at chest height. Hold one end of the band in each hand. Do 12 to 15 rows.

Windshield wipers: Stand with your elbows at your sides, arms bent at a 90 degree angle. Hold a towel horizontal to the floor, palms up. Draw your upper arm bones backwards in your shoulder sockets. Then, feel the muscles around your right shoulder blade work to rotate your right hand out to the right. Resist the rotation with the muscles around your left shoulder blade. Without resting, use the muscles around your left shoulder blade to rotate the towel to the left. Both arms should always be working -- one arm pulls while the other arm resists.

Drunk walks: Start standing. Place your right heel in front of your left toes as if you were walking on a tightrope. Take three steps along the rope. Look ahead, NOT down. After three steps, pause and make sure your shoulders are back, your core is engaged and you are looking straight ahead. Then, close your eyes and stay stable. Open your eyes and continue.

Modification: In week two, when your eyes are closed, swing your arms forward and backwards.

Lat pull-down: Loop the band through the doorframe attachment and then anchor the attachment to the top of door. Hold one end of the band in each hand. Sit on a chair or stability ball.

Straight-arm lat pull-downs: Stand and face the pull-down machine. Hold the bar shoulder-width apart, palms down. Arms straight. Keep them straight through the entire motion. First, draw your arm bones back in your shoulder sockets and engage your core. Then, keeping your arm bones back, pull the bar down to your thighs. Don't round forward as you pull the bar down.

Modification: Loop the band through the doorframe attachment. Anchor the attachment to the door above your head.

Standing stability ball sweeps: Stand on your right leg holding a ball. Make sure your right bum muscles are working and that both hip bones are facing forward. Sweep the ball over your left shoulder. Keep your hips facing forward and the weight distribution on your right foot even. Repeat 10 times and then switch sides.

Modification: In week three, close your eyes.

Bird-dog modification: In week three, when your arm is extended in front of you, write your name with your hand. Keep your pelvis stable as your write your name.

Side plank modification: In week four, add a side leg lift. Hold yourself in the side plank position as you lift your top leg up and down. Think about using the bum muscles of your bottom leg to hold your body up. Use the bum muscles of the leg closest to the ceiling to lift the leg up and down. Keep your pelvis stable.

Standing single arm cable rows: Start standing facing the cable machine in a staggered stance, right leg forward. Grab the D handle with your right hand, arm straight out in front of you. Bend your left arm so that your elbow is tucked into your side. Row your right arm back as you press your left arm forward. Return your arms back to their starting position and repeat. Initiate row from your upper back.

Modification: Attach one end of band to a stable object. Hold the other end with one arm to perform the row.

Reverse flys modification: Hold the band straight out in front of you, palms down. Use your shoulder blades to move your arms backwards. Move from your shoulders; don't extend at your elbows.

Standing side leg lifts: Stand on a bosu on one leg. Engage bum muscles of support leg. Stay straight as your other leg kicks out to the side.

If you don't have a bosu, stand on an unstable surface like a pillow.


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