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Correcting Posture With a Custom Exercise Program

written by: CatNorth • edited by: Angela Atkinson • updated: 7/13/2011

What is good posture? Your mother was right to constantly remind you to sit up straight and mind your posture. Learn what leads to poor posture and how you can improve yours. Discover exercise programs for posture correction.

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    Overview

    Maintaining good posture can provide benefits beyond just helping you to look better as you stand talking to a friend or walk across a room to greet a colleague. A sound posture is also a sign of good health.

    Besides continuously paying attention to your own posture to correct it and remembering to sit or stand up straight, you can improve your posture by following a regular exercise program. Things like muscle weakness, inflexibility and weight gain can lead to poor posture, which can all be remedied with exercise.

    Poor posture is often exacerbated by stress and injury also, but regular exercise can help relieve tension and prevent injury. Even for people with diseases that affect the posture like osteoporosis, exercise programs for posture correction can be helpful and even reduce associated symptoms, according to MayoClinic.com.

    Working with your health care provider and a fitness expert to devise a custom exercise program that meets your personal needs is the best approach, but after checking with your physician, you can start with some basic exercises to improve and even correct posture.

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    Stance

    One of the best ways to correct your posture is to practice good posture habits while standing or walking. Just the act of standing up straight can exercise and strengthen muscles responsible for good posture.

    When correcting posture, avoid locking your knees or any other part of your body. Your body should be neutral with your head erect, shoulders level, hips level and feet pointed out straight. Your abdominal muscles should be active to support a long but rounded spine, as well as the rest of your body. Shoulders and hips should be aligned with the “line of gravity passing directly through center," reports CBS News on posture improvement workouts. Learning to correct your posture while standing also improves how you carry yourself when you walk.

    Practicing yoga poses regularly can help correct and develop better posture. For example, performing Tadasana, or mountain pose, on a routine basis can help you learn proper posture, and it can help you exercise muscles needed to support your stance.

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    Back

    It’s important to stretch and strengthen back muscles for better posture support. Performing simple back stretches daily can improve posture and relieve tension built up in the upper and lower back. For better support, though, it’s essential to also perform back strengthening exercises regularly.

    If you have an exercise ball, safely perform a backbend stretch over the ball. You can also lean over the ball and allow your abdomen to rest on it while you stretch your back in the opposite direction. Mobility is the key goal when it comes to stretching out your back. A flexible back not only helps you with agility, but it also can help prevent injuries.

    You can perform back strengthening exercises also on an exercise ball. By resting your abdomen on the ball, lift your upper body up repeatedly for a version of reverse sit-ups. If you have hand weights, or dumbbells, you can also perform strength training exercises for your back, such as flys from the same position on an exercise ball.

    Participating in yoga or Pilates on a regular basis can help you develop strength and flexibility in your back. Most of the exercises in both disciplines incorporate many different exercises to stretch the entire back while also promoting strength building.

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    Core

    Core flexibility and strength are essential for good posture. The abdominal and surrounding muscles in the core naturally work to support the entire body during any type of activity, as well as while standing or sitting.

    Due to sedentary lifestyles and hours spent sitting while using modern technologies, people often have tight and weak core muscles and therefore lack posture support. With weak abdominal muscles, it’s also easy to develop a protruding belly, which can pull the spine out of alignment and further exacerbate a poor posture. Keeping abdominal and other muscles in the core strong, including back muscles, can help counteract the effects of sitting for long periods of time in front of a computer or game console.

    Perform simple overhead stretches to elongate core muscles. You can also hang from a pull-up bar to stretch your core muscles, as well as your arms and shoulders. Remember to also stretch to your sides for better flexibility.

    Build core muscles with calisthenics, such as sit-ups or leg lifts. Regularly performing dance exercise routines, such as Zumba or belly dancing, can also help to strengthen core muscles.

    While yoga and Pilates exercises are designed to work out back muscles, they stretch and strengthen abdominal and surrounding muscles in the core as well. Perform either yoga or Pilates for overall better posture.

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    Shoulders

    During stretching and strengthening exercises, people often forget about their shoulders, until they experience a shoulder strain or sustain an injury in the area. Keeping shoulders fit is a huge part of maintaining a healthy posture.

    Keep shoulders flexible by regularly performing stretching exercises, such as gently pulling each arm across your chest or above your head. You can also use a wall or a doorway to stretch shoulders. For example, perform peel exercises by standing next to a wall, placing one arm against it and then turning your body forward and away from the wall slightly until you feel a stretch in your shoulder, recommends Men’s Health. You can also use an exercise ball to perform various shoulder stretches, such as a kneeling lat stretch.

    Build shoulder strength using your own body weight by performing calisthenics, such as push-ups and pull-ups. Use hand weights to build shoulder muscles with exercises, such as flys and incline dumbbell raises, suggests Men’s Health. Make shoulder strengthening a regular part of an exercise program for posture correction.

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