Science has shown us that correcting bad posture is not only beneficial for our physical health, but our mental health as well. Better posture comes with many greats benefits, it can lower stress, make us look more confident, and not to mention how much easier tackling heavy physical activities would become. How many times have your elders told you to sit up straight? Or stop hunching your back? Many times I presume, and perhaps you should have listened! Back in the older days good posture meant two things; elegance and importance. People who kept their backs straight were more likely to receive a lot of respect than those who looked like a sack of potatoes. Just look at the current and former presidents for example. Nearly all of them pose great posture. I bet you’d be less likely to listen to someone with a hunched back than someone who keeps their posture straight without even realizing it.
Studies show that maintaining good posture just for a few minutes promotes hormones such as testosterone, a hormone that is essential to our well-being. It also makes us happier and more energetic. Bad posture however has shown to promote negative stress hormones, back problems, neck pain and so on. In today’s modern society we are constantly forcing our bodies to take on these weird and unnatural positions that put a lot of strain on our spine. Therefore many of us end up looking like a hot dog ready to be put right into the bun. This is especially common in teenagers with their iPhones, tablets, and a huge number of various devices that require us to hunch our backs.
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Who am I Give You Tips on Correcting Bad Better Posture?
Luckily there are a lot of ways to fix bad posture, everything from products to exercises. In this article I will do my best to cover the best tips on improving your posture. Who am I to tell you what’s good and what’s not? Well, my former job required me to do a lot of heavy lifting on a daily basis. My job was to load 70-100 pound towing hooks into boxes. On an average day I loaded a total of 300 towing hooks. It worked out fine in the beginning, but after about eight months I felt a back pain slowly creeping up on me. I ignored this and kept on working like usual.
About one month laterI noticed that my back had gone completely numb. I contacted a doctor and he later referred me to a chiropractor. The chiropractor told me to take a couple of weeks of work and gave me an appointment with him. After a few days I was back as the chiropractors office and then he started wrestling with me (yeah, that’s what it feels like being treated by a chiropractor). After 15 minutes of pain and groaning it was finally over, andI could finally feel the blood rushing to my back again.
It turned out I had been stressing my back nerves so much that they basically got strangled. The chiropractor told me that if I hadn’t come earlier I might have developed back injuries for life, and as a 22 year old, I was so happy I got there before it was too late. So later on I went back to work with my newly revived back and put it back to work. It all went fine and my back felt great, but after about 3 weeks that weird crawling feeling came back. I immediately contacted my chiropractor again for a new appointment. When I got back to his office he advised me to quit my job altogether, and I did so without even hesitating. Hell, I’m young, and I don’t want to risk my back over a crappy job, there are always other job opportunities out there.
My chiropractor gave me a plan and told me to do back / stretching exercises (which I will share with you), and he also told me to start doing strength training. Then he told me about Posture Braces and Specialized pillows that would aid my posture for the better while I slept. I took his regimen to heart, and now about a year later my back is as healthy as ever.
Not only did my back stronger, but the regimen also helped me gain more confidence, I feel happier, and dealing with physical activities has become a lot more easier. I’ve decided to share my tips for better posture with the open public, mainly because it has helped me so much, and I feel like everyone deserves to have a strong back and good posture. I mean,who doesn’t want better life quality and more confidence?
Gym Exercises for Better Posture
Ok, let’s start off at the gym. If your back is bad you’d want to start off small, we don’t want to burden our back with the heaviest exercises right away. Free movements and dumbbells would be a good place to start. We will be targeting the 8-12 repetition range and 3-4 sets. This is because we want our body to get used to the movements. When you feel like you’ve grasped the exercises, you can start experimenting with lower repetition ranges.
Put your left or right knee on the bench depending on which side of the back you’re targeting. Grab the dumbbell and make sure your back is parallel with the ground. Hold onto the front of the bench with your free hand to ensure you get a good grip. Now pick up the dumbbell with your arm fully extended and slowly bring it up towards your chest. Repeat the same movement with your other arm.
Back Extensions / Hyper Extensions
For this you’ll need a hyperextension bench. Tuck your feet under the footpads and keep your body straight. Cross your arms over your chest or behind your head. Slowly bend forward while you keep your back as straight as possible, go as low as you can without bending your back. When you’ve gone as low as possible, simply go back to starting position in a slow and controlled motion, just like when you went down. Remember to control your breathing during this and all exercises. The general rule is to inhale on the negative and exhale on the positive rep. You can also hold additional weights during this exercise.
Seated Cable Rows
This exercise mainly targets the upper part of your back, and obviously a seated cable row is needed. If your gym hasn’t got one, you should probably consider signing up at a new gym. This exercise plays out like it sounds, in a rowing motion. Place your feet on the platform and make sure your knees are slightly bent. Keep your neck and back as straight as possible as you grab the V-bar. Now pull the V-bar towards you in a controlled motion. Once your torso is at 90 degrees, finish the movement by pulling the v-bar to your abdominals. The last part obviously requires you to bend your elbows, so go ahead and do so.
I realize there are more back workouts out there, but I’ve chosen the ones that I feel are light enough for people just starting out improving their posture. I feel like my back muscles connect best with the exercises mentioned above, which is an important part when it comes to better posture. Once your body starts adapting to these exercises you want to switch up your routine. This is to keep your back guessing and constantly forcing it to improve.
Home Exercises for Better Posture
You don’t have to go to the gym to improve your posture. Some exercises can also be done in the comfort of your own home. Here I will give you tips on exercises that don’t require any equipment at all. You might even find a couple of exercises that are suitable to perform in public places such as at your work place, without drawing too much attention.
The Yawn Exercise
Stand up straight with your hands held together, place your hands behind your neck and bend your head upwards as far as you can, just like when you yawn. Repeat this 2-3 times for about 10 seconds each repetition.
The Wall Stretch
Put your back against the wall and keep it as straight as possible. Pull back your shoulders so that they gently touch the wall. Now raise your hands up toward the ceiling as much as you can, feel the stretch in your spine and imagine getting taller. Repeat this at least 3 times for 5-8 seconds. It might be a little embarrassing to do this at your work place, but the bathroom is always an option! This exercise can also be performed lying down.
Ah, the good old classic Touch Toes exercise, maybe our gymnastics teachers weren’t so cruel after all? I doubt instructions for this exercise is necessary, but I’ll do it anyway! Stand up straight with your hands raised above your head. Reach down in a slow motion and touch your toes while you keep your legs as straight as possible. You can bend your knees a little bit if needed. Repeat 5 times.
There are many more posture exercises to do at home, but it’d take ages to list them all. I have selected exercises which I believe are the most simple and effective. Another great things about these specific exercises is that they can be performed almost anywhere.
Do Yoga or Pilates
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Yoga and Pilates has been around for ages and both exercise forms has produced incredible results for people on both mental and physical levels. Both are great for strengthening your core muscles and they also incorporate a lot of spine and back correcting exercises, therefore making them awesome for correcting your posture. Another great thing about Yoga and Pilates is that they can be done at home, not to mention they can be pretty darn fun too, especially if you’re a fitness nut.
Get a Posture Brace
A Posture Brace Is a great addition on your quest to improve your posture. A good posture brace will force your back to remain in a good position when you’re carrying out daily tasks. A good example of these tasks would be cleaning up after your kids, washing your clothes, sitting on front of the computer, watching TV, basically everything we do. The majority of people haven’t been taught about proper posture, so it’s no wonder why so many of us develop back problems.
Another good thing about posture braces is that they can be worn anytime and anywhere, but it would of course be a good idea to lose the brace when you’re doing your exercises. I would mainly recommend a posture brace for someone who spends a lot of time in front of the computer. It is also a known fact that stay at home moms seem to have an easy time developing back problems, mostly due to all the daily tasks that moms are required to do. I personally got myself a posture brace, but quite honestly I didn’t use it very often. Mainly because my posture was already improving from all the workouts and exercises I did, and secondly because I was too lazy to put it on. But if you haven’t got a lot of time to exercise I definitely recommend you buy one, It’s a small price to pay for a lifelong investment.
Improve Your Posture While You Sleep
Sounds like a dream doesn’t it? Well it kind of is, granted you’ll be able to sleep a lot better knowing you’re improving your posture while doing so! It’s called the posture pillow, a soft, cushy friend whose sole intention is to help you gain better posture.
Posture Pillows comes in different shapes and sizes depending on what position you sleep in. I personally never used one, but had I known about it, I would have. I mean, why would you pass up on the great opportunity of being able to have your posture corrected while sleeping?
Final Word - Consistency
Okay so you’ve probably heard this before, but consistency really is key – especially when you want to correct bad posture. To correct bad posture takes time and it most certainly won’t happen overnight. So unless you want to look like a sack of potatoes for the rest of your life, I’d recommend you to go to work and make use of what I’ve told you. However, you will be able to see results in approximately 1-2 months if you work at it consistently. Like Nike says – Just Do It! You’ll start feeling a lot better, and you’ll look more attractive as well. You’ve got nothing to lose and life quality to gain.