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Six Exercises to Help You Improve Your Posture

According to this article in the Wall Street Journal Here are six exercises to help you improve your Posture.

Watching athletes transition from cycling to running during a triathlon, you can always spot the competitors who will have a successful race even 100 yards into a run, says Earl Walton, the Tampa, Fla.,-based global director of training and coaching for Ironman. “The runners that are able to come off the bike and run tall are ready for the challenge ahead. Your run will be more successful if you can carry your upper-body weight in an efficient manner.”

After hours hunched over a bicycle, or a laptop, it is easy for muscles like the hip flexors to tighten, causing the core and glutes to become inactive, says Mr. Walton. “You see a lot of triathletes running with their shoulders hunched because their core is turned off,” he says. “Their upper body looks like a sack of potatoes. You can get the same look after a day of conference calls or computer work.”

Mr. Walton calls this his standing tall workout. It helps train his triathletes to transition from a hunched cycling position to prime running posture. It also works for transitioning from your desk to a workout. “At the end of the work day we want our body to go from a question mark shape to an exclamation point,” he says. “These exercises will help activate your muscles to get you back into that strong posture so you don’t pull or strain a muscle as you go from work to coaching your kid’s Little League practice.” Perform these exercises as a workout to build better posture or use them as a warm-up for your workout, he says.

Single-Leg Standing Balance
Why: “Stability and ankle strength root you to the bike and are the first points of contact on the run,” says Mr. Walton. This exercise builds strength from the foot all the way up through the ankles and calves, he says.

How: Stand on your left foot. Raise your right foot off the ground until your knee is at 90 degrees. Engage your core and focus on your posture. Keep your hips level. Hold for 15 seconds then switch legs. Repeat six times per leg. Try to hold for five additional seconds with each rep.

Option: Close your eyes or stand on an unstable surface, like a pillow, to challenge your balance.

Jump Squats
Why: Jump squats develop explosive power while working the abs, glutes, hamstrings and lower back. They also deliver a burst of cardio to a workout when performed consecutively. “The fluid motion required to perform the exercise translates to jumping off your bike or out of a chair,” says Mr. Walton.

How: Stand tall with feet shoulder-width apart and arms overhead. Bring your arms down and slightly behind the hips as you lower into a squat. Keep the chest up. Swing the arms forward and up as you explode off the ground. Try to land softly and with control in a squat position. Perform six to eight reps.

Option: If you are a beginner, remove the jump and focus on perfecting the squat technique. When you have mastered the jump squat, advance to jumping forward 10 times. Focus on a soft landing rather than distance with each jump.

Mr. Walton says a soft landing is key to mastering the jump squat.

Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts
Why: “This hip-hinge movement will strengthen the standing leg muscles as well as the postural muscles of the back and core while also improving balance,” says Mr. Walton.

How: Stand with feet hip-width apart. Put your weight into your left foot. Bend at the hips as you extend your right leg straight behind you and lower your torso until it is almost parallel to the floor. Your arms can hang below the shoulders. Keep your hips square to the floor and don’t let your lower back arch. Pause at the bottom and squeeze the glutes to return to standing. Repeat six to eight times. Switch sides.

Option: Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell in the opposite hand of the standing leg for an extra challenge.

Single-Leg Squats
Why: Single-leg squats, also called pistol squats, require you to generate power one leg at a time, just like you do when cycling, running or even walking, says Mr. Walton. This exercise also requires ankle, knee and hip mobility as well as core stability. Focusing on each leg also prevents you from favoring your dominant side, he says.

How: Stand on your left foot with your knee slightly bent. Straighten your right leg in front of you so your foot hovers just off the ground. Extend your arms in front of you for balance. Keep your weight centered over the ball of your foot as you bend the left knee to sit your hips back into a squat position. Don’t let the left knee sink over the left foot. The right leg will extend straight in front of the body and remain hovering off the ground. Start with shallow squats and work your hips closer to the ground. Press through the left foot to return to a starting position. Repeat six to eight times and switch sides.Option: If this move is difficult, start with a single-leg wall sit. Stand with your back against a wall then lower yourself into a squat with your knees at 90 degrees. Raise and straighten one leg. Hold for 10 seconds. Switch sides.

Monster Walks with a Resistance Band
Why: The hip flexors and glutes are the victims of days in the saddle and at a desk, says Mr. Walton. The hip flexors shorten and tighten, and the glutes go to sleep, which is why it is challenging to transition off the bike to proper running posture, he says. This exercise will help strengthen the hips and glutes, particularly the gluteus medius.

How: Place a resistance band just above your knees and step your feet apart until you feel tension on the band. Squat slightly and take wide, diagonal steps to move forward slowly. Take 15 steps forward then repeat moving backward.

Side Shuffle
Why: Running and cycling work the body forward and backward. It is important to also work the body side-to-side so it learns to carry weight in different ways to avoid injury, says Mr. Walton.

How: Place a resistance band around your ankles. Step your feet hip-width apart or until you feel tension on the band. Bend your knees slightly and sink your hips back into a squat. Shuffle 12 steps to the right and then 12 to the left. Make sure your knees are in line with your ankles and hips. Don’t let your knees cave in. Your toes should point forward the entire time.

Option: Place the band up higher toward your knees or right above your knees to make the move easier.

You can also listen to this article by clicking here: Improving your Posture

Ms. Jenn Landers | Patient Advocate Alliance LLC
  Edited by Dr. Justin Groode

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