How to Improve your Posture – The Ultimate Guide

Good posture plays a vital role in your long-term health. We’ve been told our whole lives to sit up straight, or we will end up with tight muscles and a ruined spine for the rest of our life.

Well, the reality is that optimal posture isn’t straight or fixed, it’s dynamic!

The main problem we want to avoid is sitting permanently in the same position. Bad posture mainly exists because we force ourselves into the same position hour by hour, day by day and year by year. That is the reason why you should, frequently, change the way you sit. This, will give your body a short release from the current sitting position.

Of course there is nothing wrong with correcting your posture and sitting straight for a while. However, every fixed position can lead to tight muscles and pain, if you maintain it for too long.

So, instead of forcing yourself to a certain position, move as often as possible!

In addition to that, here are some other useful tips and exercises you can follow to activate your muscles and improve your posture :

Sleeping

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The position in which you sleep can have a huge impact in the development of your posture. Sleeping on your back is believed to be the best position to sleep in (for individuals without breathing problems).

However, most people can’t fall asleep easily on their back, ending up not resting enough. In that case, you should consider putting a cushion under your knees, in order to put your lower back in a more favourable position.

Moreover, a low height cushion is needed to support your neck, which will decrease in height as your body adjusts, finally leading to no cushion.

As far as the mattress is concerned, the general rule is : the firmer the better. People with soft mattresses can experience compromised sleeping posture.

WAKING UP

morning stretching
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Researches suggest that, the best time to do mobility work is in the morning upon waking up, in order to prepare your body for a full day of functioning. So, start your day by decompressing your spine, stretching and moving your joints.

Focus more on your personal tight areas, using simple stretches with minimal effort.

You don’t need to do a lot, or hard stretches at this point. The goal is, to just wake up the body, with quick and easy-to-do movements, in order to start the day off properly.

During the day

stretching in the office
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

The goal is to never be in the same position for more than one hour. As we mentioned earlier, bad posture mainly exists because we force ourselves into the same position for hours.

When you sit all day at the office in the same position, certain muscles in the body will essentially turn off (like your glutes) and other muscles will become tight (like your hip flexors).

So, first of all you should change the way you sit frequently. This gives your body a short release from your current siting position and relaxes your muscles.

Moreover, you could do a short mobility routine right at your desk. Just enough to wake up and stretch your muscles a bit. This will increase your body’s awareness, relax the tight muscles and help you work against imbalances.

Exercise

Even if you fail to fallow all the advices listed above, there is one thing you should immediately incorporate into your daily routine. And that is Exercising.

Apart from contributing to your general health, exercising regularly can help you improve your posture too.

For optimum results, you should use exercises that target the right muscle groups, in order to strengthen your back and neck, providing better support to your spine.

Luckily in Calisthenics there is a huge list of such exercises, you can choose from!

For your convenience, here are some really effective ones:

1. GLUTE BRIDGE

Glute Bridge, also called pelvic lift, is an exercise for the back of your legs, hips, and gluteal muscles, but they also help strengthen your entire torso

They are also very suitable for beginners, as it’s very easy and you can do it everywhere.

Start by lying with your back and head on the flour, knees bent. Keep your arms outstretched beside you.

Pull your feet close enough to you, so that your calves are directly perpendicular to the floor.

Now squeeze your glutes and lift your hips, lower back and thighs so they form a straight line. Your knees shouldn’t touch each other during the movement, but also not be too far apart. 

Make sure that you push your glutes upwards out of your leg muscles. Try not to use your arms.

Hold the position for one second. Then lower to just above the floor without completely lowering your glutes. Then press your pelvis back up. 

It’s important to keep your core engaged at all time and squeeze your butt at the top to make sure you’re using your glutes.

Do 4 sets of 20 to 25 reps.

2. Seated PIKE PULSES

The Seated Pike Pulses help you improve your hip flexor strength and mobility, as well as your general core strength.

In order to perform this exercise, start seated with your legs straight in front of you and your arms on the ground beside you for support.

Then, lift your legs of the ground and pulse them up and down, keeping them as straight as possible.

Do 4 sets of 20 to 25 reps.

3. SUPERMAN HOLD

The Superman Hold exercise strengthens your lower back, works your glutes and builds up your core. It as an essential exercise for building the strength required in skills like the front lever and back lever.

Start by lying face down with arms and legs outstretched.

Lift your armslegsupper back, and head off the floor. Keep arms and legs straight but not locked, forming a “U” shape with either side of your body several centimetres off the floor.

Hold this position for a few seconds then lower back to the starting position.

While performing the Superman Hold make sure that your head is in a neutral position in line with your spine. If you feel like you’re straining your neck, stop and fix your form.

Do 4 sets of 30 to 60 seconds holds.

4. DEAD HANG

The Dead Hang is a great exercise for getting comfortable in the hanging position, working your grip strength as well as your overall alinement.

This is a really important progression for many Calisthenics skills like the Front Lever and Back Lever.

To perform it, hang from a bar or rings with an underhand grip and hold for a prescribed amount of time.

Do 4 sets of 30 to 60 seconds holds.

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