Posture is defined as the position of your body based on your alignment, the relationship of individual sections of your skeleton, specifically your spine. Good posture results in movement efficiency as your muscles exert force with the least amount of strain on your joints. Poor posture leads to joint and muscle strain, resulting in pain and discomfort. Factors leading to poor posture include muscular weakness, structural misalignments, inactivity and improper movement and lifting techniques. Exercise programs for the purpose of improving posture are based on stretching what is too tight and strengthening what is too weak to improve alignment and ultimately posture.
Factors leading to lower back problems include inflexible hamstrings resulting in a misaligned pelvic bone, causing lordosis, an excessive lower back curvature. Sit and reach stretching exercises lengthen the hamstrings, the back of your thighs. The exercise can be performed in a seated or standing position. Begin the stretch by extending your arms up toward the ceiling, and then slowly reaching with your arms toward your feet with your legs extended. Seated stretches are recommended for beginner-level participants. Hold the stretch for up to 30 seconds.
Kyphosis is a postural deviation formed by an excessive curvature of the upper spine. Factors include weak upper back muscles and rounded shoulders that roll forward. Exercises to diminish kyphosis strengthen your upper back and stretch your chest. The arm/back lift exercise is performed in a prone position, lying on your stomach with your legs extended. Extend your arms forward with your palms facing down. Begin the exercise by squeezing your shoulder blades together and lifting your arms off of the floor a few inches. Hold the position for five to 10 seconds, and then return to the starting position. Repeat three to five times.
Scoliosis is a lateral S-curve of the spine, bringing your ribs closer to your hips on one side compared to the other. Scoliosis is caused by structural problems, poor posture or a combination of both. Side reaching exercises target your side obliques and lower back muscles to strengthen what is too weak and stretch what is too tight. Stand with one arm extended overhead and the other arm extended down towards the floor. Begin the exercise by reaching with your top arm toward the ceiling and reaching with your bottom arm towards the floor. Hold the stretch for five counts, completing 10 repetitions on each side.
The pelvic tilt exercise diminishes lordosis, excessive curvature of the lower spine. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Begin the exercise by pressing your lower back toward the floor and contracting your abdomen. Hold for three to five seconds and release. Complete up to 10 repetitions.
- Keep Moving! Fitness Through Aerobics And Step; Esther Pryor & Minda Goodman Kraines
- Spine Universe: A Head's Up On Posture, Don't Be A Slouch
- Sports Injury Clinic: Tight Hamstrings
- Kyphosis Treatment Solutions: Kyphosis Exercises
- The Book of Body Maintenance and Repair; American Physical Therapy Association
- Sports Injury Clinic: Stretching Exercises
- Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.