Having good posture is one of the most critical (and often overlooked!) components in having a fit, good looking and healthy body. Proper posture has so many benefits, including becoming taller, flattening your stomach, reducing neck and back pain, helping prevent injuries by decreasing pressure on your muscles, ligaments and joints, increasing your strength, reducing headaches and the added benefit of making you look more fit, healthy and confident!
In this modern world of phones, tablets and computers, most of us have slipped into bad posture habits without even realising. Head forward, shoulders rolled forward, neck angled down, slouching (think of looking down at your phone) hips out of alignment, are all common posture problems that can be seriously affecting your health, your body and how people look at you.
Luckily, fixing your posture is something you can start doing right away! It is a long process, but with consistent training, stretching and practice, you can be well on your way to having perfect posture before you know it!
We have collected 17 amazing stretches for you to incorporate into your fitness routine. These stretches open your chest and your hips, pull back the shoulders and strengthen your core! All while elongating your body and helping you become more aware of your posture and how you are holding your body.
With any yoga positions and stretching, it is important to understand the movements before completing them and fully warming up before hand. Don’t over exert yourself and if you feel any pain, stop the position.
17 Incredible Stretches To Help You Get Perfect Posture!
This is the first pose for a reason, while it may feel like just standing there, it is a chance to practice perfect posture, head high and back, chest out, shoulders pull back, gluten and core activated. It promotes balance and alignment and keeps you in the present moment. Standing up, grounding your feet and becoming aware of your spines shape will help you in all the other poses and in your posture in general.
Stand with your feet together. Ground down evenly through each foot and lift up through the very top of your head. Lift your thighs. Lengthen up through all four sides of your waist, elongating your back and spine. Hold this pose for several deep breaths.
This exercise will help you open your chest and a good way to warm up your upper back and shoulders. Make sure not to lean your head forward when pressing your shoulder blades together. You should push your neck back to strengthen and stretch the front part of your neck as you do this stretch.
Stand comfortably with your feet about hip width apart. Engage your abs and raise arms straight in front with your thumbs pointing up and hands activated. Press your should shoulders down and push scapulas together. Squeeze and release.
If you want spinal flexibility, you need to open your hip flexors and get rid of any tightness in that area. The arching pigeon pose will help with that and provide a great stretch all over your body.
Lift your right arm and foot up and rotate your torso 180 degrees, pivoting on your left foot. Place your right hand in the Down Dog position, and bring your right knee between your hands, coming into the Pigeon position. Plant your palms down, either side of your hips, and gently and slowly arch back, lowering your head between your shoulder blades.
Your body uses its back muscles to raise yourself up in this pose rather than your arms when your hands are on the floor. A great exercise for pulling back the shoulders and strengthening the back.
Start flat on your stomach, flex your feet to engage your toes on the floor. Keep your core lifted. Place arms wider than your shoulder width, palms facing down and shoulder blades pressed back and down. Contract your back muscles to pull yourself up, rolling your shoulders back and squeezing scapulas together, and facing palms outward. Keep your chin and neck pulled inwards and back. Hold for a second and slowly release back down to the floor.
Easy Downward Dog
This modified downward facing dog pose shares some amazing benefits with its more advanced alternative. Stretching the hamstrings, opening the shoulders and lengthening the spine.
Place both your hands on the back of a chair or bench with palms shoulder width apart. Step your feet back until they align right under your hips, creating a right angle with your body, with your back and spine parallel with the floor. Ground through your feet and raise through your thighs. Reach hips away from your hands to lengthen the sides of your torso. Keep your arms extended and tensed and lengthen all the way through the top of your head.
This pose is great for relaxing and relieving stress as well as building strength in your upper body.
To start the dolphin pose, go onto the floor on your hands and knees. Your knees should be inches apart from each other, resting directly below the hips. The forearms should be placed flat on the ground and your shoulders should be parallel with your forearms and wrists. Press your forearms and your palms into the floor very firmly. Tuck your toes, then lift your knees off the floor, and reach hips up and back. Allow your head to come off the floor. Ground down into forearms and lift shoulders away from the floor. Spine and legs should be in a ‘V’ shape.
Eagle Twist Pose
This pose is a great way to increase the side to side flexibility of your spine.
After bringing your knees up towards your chest. Extend your arms out in the cactus position with your elbows at right angles and your palms facing up. Slowly lower both knees to the left. Rest them on the ground, and turn your head to the right. Hold here for at least five breaths, feeling your spine lengthen and twist. You may even hear some “cracks.” Use your abs to lift your knees back to centre. Slowly lower both knees to the right, and look over your left shoulder. After five breaths, lift the knees back to centre.
This is an excellent pose for loosening up and developing flexibility in your backs and shoulders. It really opens the chest and puts your body in a solid postural position. You can stretch one should at a time on a wall or use a doorframe to do both at once.
Stand with one of your legs in front of the other. Place elbows on the wall or door frame slightly below shoulder height. Push your shoulder blades back and down as if trying to squeeze them together and keep your core tensed. Slowly bend the front knee, lean forward, stretching forward to target the shoulder and scapula. Hold 30 seconds, release, switch sides or change legs, and repeat one more set. You can move your hands up or down the frame to change the angle of the stretch, slightly higher or slightly lower.
Cow Face Pose
The cow face pose provides a deep stretch for your back, hips, shoulders, and chest all at once.
Sit on the floor with both legs straight in front of you. Bend both knees and slide your left foot under your right thigh. Lift your gluten off the floor, point through your left toes, and sit down gently on your left heel. If it hurts to sit on your heel, then sit on the floor with your left heel beside your right hip. Bringing your right foot as close to your left hip as possible, so both knees are stacked. Whichever variation you’re doing, the tops of your feet should be resting on the floor. Bend your left elbow behind your back. Lift your right arm straight up above your head, then bend your right elbow, and if you can, clasp your fingers together. Gaze toward the ceiling, and hold here for several deep breaths.
This back bend pose stretches the whole front of your body and helps strengthen the back muscles.
Kneel with your shins hip distance apart. Rest hands on the back of your pelvis. Press down strongly into your shins and reach up through the torso, keeping your core stable. Lift chest up as you stretch arms back to reach your hands to your heels. (You can curl toes under so you don’t have to reach as far.)
This traditional classic pose opens up your shoulders, stretched your hamstrings and lengthens your spine.
From all fours, walk hands one palms length in front of you. Tuck your toes and lift your hips up and back to fully lengthen your spine. (If you’re a beginner, keep your knees bent in order to bring your weight back into the legs.) Press into your hands, firm your outer arms, and reach your upper thighs back toward the wall behind you. You should feel a good stretch in your hamstrings.
Open Triangle Pose
The Open Triangle is a great pose that really helps strengthen your whole back body and helps nurture proper alignment.
Come into Downward Facing Dog. Step your right foot forward between your hands, and rise up into the warrior pose. Open your hips, arms, and chest. Straighten your right leg and turn your left toes slightly to the right, making a 45-degree angle. Keep both legs straight as you reach your right hand straight out over your right leg. Lower your right hand, resting it on your right shin or a block or placing your palm flat on the floor. Extend your left arm straight up, and gaze at your left fingertips. Stay like this for several deep breaths. Then lift your torso up and either rotate your feet to the left or come into Down Dog, step your left foot forward between your hands, and repeat this pose on the left side.
Standing Forward Bend
There is no better pose to help release your shoulders and neck than the Standing Forward Bend. As you relax into the pose, let gravity work its magic on any tense muscles.
Begin in Mountain Pose (the first one in this list). Inhale and reach your arms straight above you. As you exhale, engage your abs and fold forward with a straight back.
Tuck your chin in toward your chest, relax your shoulders, and extend the top of your head towards the floor to lengthen your spine. Shift your weight forward onto your toes, straightening the legs as much as possible. Place your hands on the ground, fingertips lining up with the toes, and hold here for several deep breaths.
Thoracic Spine Mobilisation
Use a foam roller to stretch and roll out your back with this great mobilisation exercise.
Lie on your foam roller, placing it underneath shoulder blades. Place your feet flat on the floor with your hands behind your head. Keep your elbows lifted and your core engaged. Lift your hips upward and squeeze your glutes. Hold one second and release back down to the floor.
Open up your chest and shoulders with this great pose, with the additional benefit of stretching your hip flexors and abdominals.
Lie facedown on the floor. Bend your elbows and place hands on the floor in line with your lower ribs. Reach back through your legs, and pull yourself forward and up to straight arms. Lift your thighs and knees away from the floor and spread chest wide, and lift your chest up. Hold this pose for several deep breaths.
This is an amazing exercise to retract your scapula and and stretch out your shoulders and chest. It may look simple, but it is one of the most effective exercises to improve your posture.
Stand about a foot away from wall with feet a hip width apart. Engage your core and tilt spine so there is no space between your back and the wall. Push arms into the wall with your elbows bent below shoulders. Slowly slide your hands up above your head. Keep your shoulders against the wall, core engaged, and ribs pressed in towards the belly button. Try to reach hands all the way above head without allowing your back or any part of your arms to lift from the wall. Slowly lower back down into the starting position and repeat several times. A slow and controlled movement is important with this exercise.
Standing Reverse Flys
Using an exercise band for this exercise helps strengthen your back muscles. You can alter the difficulty of this exercise by the amount of slack you give the band.
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, keeping a slight bend in the knees. With straight arms, hold the exercise band in front of you with your hands slightly lower than your shoulders. Keep your elbows slightly soft to avoid hyperextending the joint. On an exhale, pull your abs to your spine to stabilize your torso as you open your arms out to the sides, focusing on the shoulder blades sliding together. Inhale as you slowly return your arms back to starting position. Focus on the abs keeping the spine stable and don’t let your back arch. Imagine yourself growing taller as you open you arms to reinforce good posture.
Source: Laughing River Yoga Studio