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These exercises are a quick and effective way to improve posture. Little to no equipment is needed to reduce back and shoulder pain.
After spending the last two years working from home even more than usual, I’ve found that my posture has taken a hit. That comes with back, neck, and shoulder pain, too, all from spending too much time hunched over my laptop in bed or on the couch.
I always knew I had limited T-spine (thoracic spine) mobility, but more recently I feel like I am heading towards thoracic kyphosis and limited extension. I need to work on improving my mobility, improving my posture, as well as opening up my chest and strengthening my back.
I spoke to our resident sports therapist, Modestas, and asked him for some exercises to improve posture and undo all the bed/couch work, slouching, and back pain. They have worked wonders for me and I often use them with my personal training clients with whom they have been successful.
More from Modest:
So I also share them here for you to try…
5 movements to improve posture
These exercises/moves/stretches are super easy, quick to do, and effective. try to make them once a day to see improvements in your posture.
Aspire to 12-15 repetitions for exercise and 30 seconds per side of the section Complete 1-2 games of the 5 movements.
Equipment you will need:
- a set of light dumbbells
- a foam roller
- a wall
- a carpeted or carpeted floor
Reverse flyes with dumbbells
I typically use dumbbells between 1.5kg and 3kg for these inverted dumbbell raises. Try the move out to see what weight is best for you – you want to be able to complete the full 2 sets with good form.
You can also do the movement without dumbbells (as shown in the image) to start.
Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding dumbbells, then press your hips back in a hinged motion, bringing your chest forward and nearly parallel to the floor.
With the weights hanging down (palms facing each other) while keeping your torso tight, back straight, and knees slightly bent, raise both arms out to your sides, keeping your elbows slightly bent.
Squeeze your shoulder blades as you pull them toward your spine.
With control, lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
Throughout, keep your shoulders back and down, and keep your chin tucked in to maintain a neutral spine throughout the exercise.
Y press upside down
A seated Y-press was an exercise/stretch featured in the Quick Desk Stretches For Neck, Shoulders & Back routine when the effects of working from home began to become apparent.
Lie on your front on a mat and raise your arms overhead so they form a Y shape. Keeping your elbows locked, squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold. You should be able to feel the muscles kick in, your arms lift off the ground, but not your chest. Release and repeat.
Cobra / Upward Facing Dog
In the post, 5 Yoga Poses for Cyclists, Kelly shared a variation of cobra to strengthen the upper back and combat a common problem for cyclists with a rounded back over the handlebars.
I remember seeing so many professional cyclists with this thought that this was something that was hindering my own cycling, when in fact, it’s not ideal.
Begin by lying on your stomach, with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointed back, and hands under your shoulders.
Keeping your elbows close to your ribs, press down through your hands and feet to straighten your arms and lift your chest and hips off the floor.
Roll your chest forward and up and roll your shoulders down and back.
Keep your neck neutral and look up.
Exhale and start again. Repeat for 12-15 repetitions.
Foam Roller Chest Extensions
This has to be my favorite move of all time. It is one of the mobility exercises that is never included in Rollin’ With My Foamies.
I’m not the only one who loves this move, so if that sounds good to you, feel free to do a little more than 12-15 reps and do it whenever you feel the need to create some space in your thoracic spine. .
This foam roller from MyProtein is perfect for chest extensions and for those new to foam rolling.
Begin by lying on your back with your torso toward the ceiling, knees bent. Place your foam roller just below the bottom of your shoulder blades.
You can either place your arms crossed on your chest or place your hands behind your head/neck with your elbows pointing toward the ceiling.
Begin to lean back, bringing your shoulders and head toward the floor, while keeping your feet and hips in contact with the floor.
Return to the starting position and repeat for 12 to 15 repetitions.
You can choose a few different points along your thoracic spine to complete the reps.
Wall Supported Chest Stretch
This chest stretch is a great move to work the pectoralis minor, which plays an important role in improving posture.
When the pectoralis minor muscle tightens, it pulls the front of the shoulders forward, which in turn rounds the back into a kyphosis or adds to the rounding that’s already there (Very Good Health)
Choose your wall to use and start in a split position (one leg in front of the other)
Bring your nearest arm to the wall to shoulder height and place your palm and inside arm on the wall.
Slowly move your body away from the wall and gently press your shoes forward to feel the stretch.
Moving your elbow up or down will allow you to stretch several sections of your chest.
Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Improve your posture with this routine
- Reverse flys with dumbbells
- Prone Y Press
- Cobra/upward facing dog
- Foam Roller Chest Extensions
- Wall Supported Chest Stretch
Representatives: 12-15 reps or 30 seconds per side to stretch
sets: 1-1 sets
It doesn’t take more than 5 to 10 minutes to complete the 2 sets of these exercises to improve posture. You can do it first thing in the morning, at the start of your workout, or even before bed.
Have you noticed that your posture has deteriorated in recent years?
PS Safety always comes first. If you are new to exercise, be sure to seek the advice of your GP. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids, wear appropriate clothing, and exercise in a suitable space. Technique is paramount, and nothing should hurt. If you experience pain, discomfort, nausea, dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath, etc. STOP and see your GP.