11 Exercises For Good Posture: Reduce Stiffness And Improve Flexibility

Written by Charushila Biswas
ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition

Do you experience lower back pain, neck pain, or shoulder pain? It is probably due to bad posture (1). Sitting or standing all day, working on a laptop that’s not at your eye level, wrong chair structure, soft mattresses, or not paying attention to form while working out can affect your posture (2).

Thankfully, the right exercises help improve posture, reduce muscle pain, and improve flexibility and balance (3), (4). Here are the 11 best exercises you can do at home for 30 days for good posture. Scroll down to check them out.

11 Best Exercises To Improve Posture

1. Chin Tuck For Forward Head Posture

The forward head posture, also known as the nerd neck, occurs if you sit at one place for too long to read or play video games. The neck tends to curve at the back, with the upper spine protruding out. Chin tucks help reduce neck curvature and spine protrusion. Here’s how to do them:

  • Sit on a chair and keep your feet flat on the floor and spine erect.
  • Place your index finger on your chin lightly. This is the starting position.
  • Push your head back without moving your index finger.
  • Hold the pose for 3-5 seconds and return to the starting position.
  • Do this 10 times twice a day.

2. Back Claps For Shoulder And Back

If you have drooping shoulders, stiffness, and a curved back due to improper posture, this exercise can help relax the spine and shoulder muscles and improve flexibility. Follow these steps for the exercise:

  • Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Lift your hands and join them in a prayer pose behind your head.
  • Hold for a second and release the pose.
  • Again join your palms in a prayer pose behind your hips.
  • Do this 10 times twice a day.

Note: If you have very stiff muscles and curved shoulders, this exercise might take a few days to master.

3. Child’s Pose For Shoulder, Spine, And Hip

This versatile yoga pose targets the shoulders, upper chest, spine, and hip muscles. It relaxes the muscles and releases tension and also has a calming effect. Here’s how to do it:

  • Kneel on a mat and place your palms to get on all fours.
  • Adjust your knees by placing them slightly in an outward direction.
  • Keep your palms fixed on the floor, lower your body, and let your ankles touch your hips. Keep your head down.
  • Breathe and count to 10. And get back on all fours.
  • o 5 repetitions twice a day.

Note: If you are new to this exercise, you may find it difficult to lower your body completely. However, practice it regularly to get a full-body stretch.

4. Upper Back Stretches For Rounded Shoulders

Sitting, working, and reading for long hours or carrying heavy objects can make the shoulders rounded. Opening up the shoulders will take the load off your spine, probably causing neck pain and even lower back pain. Here’s how to stretch your upper back to correct rounded shoulders:

  • Place a foam roller on a mat.
  • Sit on the mat, flex your knees, and keep your feet flat on the floor.
  • Lean back until your upper back rests on the foam roller. Place your hands behind your head. This is the starting position.
  • Rock back and forth to extend your upper back, keeping your hips firm on the floor. However, do not extend or crunch too much.
  • Do 10 repetitions twice a day.

5. Chest Stretches For Opening The Shoulders

when your shoulders are rounded. This makes it difficult to breathe properly. Opening up your shoulders and chest can help improve your posture and allow proper flow of oxygen into your body. You can do this isometric chest stretch at home any time of the day:

  • Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Bring your hands behind you and clasp them together.
  • Stretch them by pulling them behind and down.
  • Hold the stretch for 3-5 seconds. Keep breathing.
  • Do this 10 times twice a day.

6. Shoulder Squeeze And Overhead Arm Cross For A Hunched Back

Hunched back is a common postural problem found in different age groups. Lack of exercise or too much of it, spending hours on the laptop, and incorrect sitting and standing postures are major reasons for a hunched posture. Exercising the upper back and shoulders can help correct it gradually. Here’s an exercise you can do:

  • Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Lift your hands as shown in the image.
  • Push the hands back and feel the stretch on your shoulder and upper back muscles. Hold it for a second.
  • Open up your arms, bring them over your head, and cross over to stretch your chest muscles.
  • Do this 10 times twice a day.

7. Lower Back Stretch For Lower Back Curvature

Pelvic anterior tilt or lower back poor posture is a common postural issue among men and women. Excessive curvature of the lower back and protrusion of the hips are the tell-tale signs of pelvic anterior tilt. This simple lower back stretch can help reduce it. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Lie down on a mat, bend your knees, and keep your feet flat on the floor.
  • You will notice there is a huge gap between the mat and your lower back. You need to focus on that area to correct your posture.
  • Place your hands on your waist and gently push your lower back down on the mat.
  • Hold this pose for 2 seconds and gradually increase it to 5-10 seconds.
  • Do this 10 times twice a day.

8. Reverse Arm Clap And Arm Open For Upper Chest

Your collarbones and rib cage can get caved in due to poor sitting, standing, and sleeping posture. A great way to correct a concave upper body is to combine a few easy exercises. Here’s what to do and how:

  • Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Bring your arms towards your face and do a reverse arm clap, as shown in the image.
  • Pause for a moment, bring your arms down, open them up, and bring them over your head.
  • Pause for a moment and bring your arms down.
  • Repeat the combination.
  • Do this 10 times twice a day.

9. Wall Angel

Stiff shoulders can cause neck and shoulder pain. Wall angel, an isometric exercise, can help release the tension in your shoulder muscles and upper back. Follow the steps given below:

  • Stand against a wall. Make sure your feet are not more than six inches away from the wall.
  • Place your arms on the wall, as shown in the image.
  • Push your arms and shoulders into the wall. Count to 5 and release.
  • Do this 10 times twice a day.

10. Push Back For Rounded Upper Back

This exercise is similar to wall angel, but you need to do it lying down without the support of the wall. Push back helps open up rounded shoulders and a concave chest. It also corrects upper spine protrusion and pain. Here’s how to do it:

  • Lie down on your belly on a mat. Keep your head on the mat.
  • Position your arms just like you did in the wall angel exercise.
  • Lift them off the floor and push them back to feel the stretch in your upper chest and the back of the shoulders.
  • Count to 5 and release.
  • Do this 10 times twice a day.

11. Spine Extension With Foam Roller

Incorrect posture can burden the spine. Therefore, your spine needs special attention when it comes to physical therapy and posture improvement. Foam roller exercises are great for releasing tension and getting a massage. Here’s how you can do a simple exercise with a foam roller at your home or at the gym:

  • Sit on a mat, flex your knees, and keep your feet flat on the floor.
  • Place a foam roller behind you and lean on it.
  • Cross your hands behind your head and move a little forward, so that the foam roller is beneath your upper back.
  • Lift your hips off the floor and move down and up to massage your spine.
  • Do this 10 times twice a day.

Perform these 11 posture correcting exercises for 30 days and see a huge difference in your slouching figure. Here are a few key points to keep in mind before you start exercising.

Points To Remember

  • Talk To A Physical Therapist

Check with your physical therapist to know your problem area(s). There is no one-size-fits-all solution, and you might need specific exercises to improve your posture. Your physical therapist will guide you regarding this.

  • Always Warm Up Before Exercising

Do neck tilts, shoulder rotations, arm stretches and circles, and forward bends. Stretching your muscles without prepping them can cause injury.

  • Do Not Overdo These Exercises

Patience is key when it comes to correcting your posture. Overdoing these exercises may cause muscular soreness, tear, or pull and aggravate a pre-existing pain or injury. Increase the repetitions and frequency gradually as per the instruction of your physical therapist.

  • Do Not Miss Your Workout Schedule

Humans are creatures of habit. So, set reminders and stick post-it notes to remind yourself why you need to do this regularly for 30 days.

  • Pain Is Not Always Good

“Pain is gain” is not true always. If you experience sudden and sharp pain, stop doing that exercise immediately.

  • Avoid Certain Exercises If You Have An Injury

Many people have shoulder injuries, knee issues, and lower back problems. Doing exercises that hyper extend these areas can further complicate and aggravate the injury. Talk to your physical therapist to know if you should do exercises that particularly target an affected area.

  • Make A Conscious Effort

Merely practicing these exercises will not help. You have to make a conscious effort while standing, sitting, and sleeping to improve your posture.

  • Get The Right Furniture

Are you sleeping on a very soft bed or sitting on a chair that is poorly designed? Or is your workstation too low? Changing up your furniture can help prevent postural deformities and reduce pain and stiffness.

Conclusion

Improving your posture is important to prevent neck curvature, rounded shoulders, concaved chest, and hyper curved lower back. Doing posture correcting exercises regularly can improve your posture to a great extent. You must also sit, stand, or sleep consciously to correct your posture. These practices will surely reduce pain and discomfort and enhance flexibility within a few weeks.

4 Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Postural awareness and its relation to pain: validation of an innovative instrument measuring awareness of body posture in patients with chronic pain
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5889545/
  2. High prevalence of inadequate sitting and sleeping postures: a three-year prospective study of adolescents
    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-15093-2
  3. Effect of an exercise program for posture correction on musculoskeletal pain
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4499985/
  4. Changes in rounded shoulder posture and forward head posture according to exercise methods
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5684019/

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Charushila Biswas is a Senior Content Writer and an ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition. She is an alumni of VIT University, Vellore and has worked on transgenic wheat as a part of her Masters dissertation from NRCPB (IARI), New Delhi. After completing her Masters, she developed a passion for nutrition and fitness, which are closely related to human psychology. This prompted her to author a review article in 2015. She has written over 200 articles on Fitness and Nutrition. In her leisure time, Charushila loves to cook and enjoys mobile photography.