Let's test something out: if you're slouched over a computer or phone right now, mindfully sit up straight. You should immediately feel your core activating — proof that a strong center plays a significant role in overall good posture.
Exercises that strengthen deep core muscles (like the transverse abdominis, the multifidus, the diaphragm, and the pelvic floor) have a direct correlation to developing good posture, says Timothy Lyman, ACE-certified personal trainer and director of training programs at Fleet Feet Pittsburgh.
These integral muscles not only work to stabilize the spine, but they're involved in almost every single movement the body makes. That explains why bad posture can equate to everyday back and muscle aches, spine abnormalities, and joint deterioration.
We've asked Lyman to walk us through his favorite core-strengthening moves for anyone looking for relief from pain or wanting to break their hunching habit. With approval from your doctor, you can easily execute these good posture exercises at home or in the gym.
Position yourself in a standard forearm plank or push-up plank position.
Keep your elbows directly under your shoulders and lengthen the spine into a neutral position instead of rounding at the shoulders or arching the lower back.
Planks are a timed exercise rather than a rep count, so hold the position until your form starts to break down.
Lying face-down on the floor, slowly and gently lift both legs and both arms off the ground.
Pause for a few seconds, slowly relax, and lower your limbs back to the floor.
Perform two to three sets of 10 to 25 repetitions.
Stand tall with good posture, then slowly allow your center of mass to shift over your toes. It's important that the lean comes from the ankles and not the hips.
Slowly return to the standing position and repeat.
You can do two to three sets of 12 to 20 repetitions.
Hip Abduction and Adduction
Put a towel, disc, paper plate, or anything else that slides under one foot in a standing position.
Slowly slide the towel away from you laterally, inhaling as you push it out.
On the exhale, use your leg to draw the towel back underneath your body.
You can perform two to three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions on either leg.
Note: If you have access to a cable-machine, antirotation exercises are great for core stability.
Begin by kneeling next to the cable machine and grasp the handle with both hands.
Pull the handle away from the machine, at the same level as your sternum.
Slowly push the handle away from your sternum and then back in.
You'll want to resist the "tugging" of the cable and make each rep a slow, controlled movement without any rotation in the hips or shoulders.
Perform a set of eight to 12 reps — repeat facing the opposite direction for a total of two to three sets.
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