Today on the blog, Debra Corley, founder of Tulifts talks about exercises for a better posture and back health.
As we age one of the most important things we can do for our overall health is take good care of our body. Having the best posture we can achieve is one of the things I work on daily. Having good posture helps us breathe better and deeper. Along with increasing your lung capacity, having good posture and working at maintaining good posture are just the beginning of the benefits.
Having scoliosis most of my life has made me aware of how crucial good posture is. Good posture is a good way to reduce the occurrence of low back pain. If you are aware of your posture while you walk and sit you will reduce the pressure on the structure of your spine, keeping it aligned, and also reducing wear and tear on muscles and ligaments. I have found that when I think about my posture, I don’t tense my neck and shoulders which can help keep stress headaches away, we tend to carry stress in our neck and shoulders. When you are walking and sitting while properly aligned you will strengthen your core, which is so important for your lower back. Another benefit of having good posture is digestion - no one likes to have indigestion and good posture definitely helps keep indigestion at bay. In the very least, having good posture has helped me with self esteem and I seem to feel taller.
As you find keeping good posture turning into a habit, it will carry over into your exercise routine. Here are some of my favorite posture positive exercises that are tried and true for better health and better posture.
I suggest trying them all and decide which ones work best for you as we all have different body types, strengths and weaknesses:
1. Child’s pose: I do this exercise even before I get out of bed in the morning, it helps wake everything up. I do extended child’s pose because I feel it stretches almost everything in a very gentle way. I start on my knees placed about hips distance apart and toes touching, heals apart. I then walk my hands forward until my forehead rests on the bed, or mat on the floor and reach my fingers wide with my arms outstretched. I will hold this positions or 10 to 20 deep breaths, filling my lungs and belly completely, and then with each breath slowly exhaling.
2. Forward fold: this is a good exercise for lengthening all the muscles on your back side. I do this standing or sitting. When I do a forward fold I bend my knees as much as I need to feel a stretch and when I feel that stretch I will do about 5 to10 deep breaths and then slowly roll up, one vertebrae at a time. When I am doing a forward fold seated I usually do this sitting crossed legs and fold forward until I rest my forehead on the mat. You can also do this forward fold with straight legs and legs wide apart. What ever feels best for you.
3. Cat/Cow: This exercise is great for adding movement to your stretches. Start on hands and knees, hip distance apart. As you arch your back like a cat also drop your head and exhale and you begin to inhale slowly look up and drop your tummy. On the rhythm of your breathing repeat this motion 10 to 20 times. You can also do this standing in half lift, flat back, hands on shins or above your knees. I do standing cat/cow in the shower with the hot water running on my back, it feels so good!
4. Chest opener: Nothing feels better than pulling your shoulders back and down. I do chest openers all through the day. The easiest way to do this exercise is to reach your hands behind your back and interlock your fingers and lift your arms away from your body. I do this standing straight and also bent over with a flat back. Breathe while you do this and try and hold the pose for 10 seconds. I also use a curved arch made from wood to do this chest opener and hold and breathe for 30 seconds.
5. High planks and Side planks: Not only are these wonderful for your posture, these exercises are just fab for building core strength. I suggest you try theses with help at first or in a mirror so you can be sure you are doing these with good form - you don’t want a sagging core or a high booty. Think of a plank, literally. Straight strong line from head to toe. Hold for 10 seconds to start and build up to 2 minutes. If your wrists hurt you can do forearm planks instead.
I really hope this helped you and you will love working on your posture and enjoying the benefits of walking taller - both in mind and body. I would love to hear your ways of enjoying good posture. Let me know in the comments below!
PS: Check out this video healthy juice options for your morning routine to supplement your healthy back exercises! (click here)