5 ways to improve your posture

by Douglas Ross on Sunday 14 April 2024

3 min read

When you think about improving your fitness, what comes to mind? Better PB’s in the pool, more kms on a run, or heavier weights in the gym? But what about the unsung hero of our physicality: our posture? It turns out, standing tall doesn’t just make us look better, it's a cornerstone of feeling better, having greater overall health and carrying ourselves with confidence.

Why posture is on everyone’s minds

According to The Lancet Rheumatology, nearly 10% of the world’s population suffered from low back pain in 2020. The UK’s NHS alone shells out £5 billion each year for general practitioner appointments for back pain and is the most common condition keeping older Australians (aged 45-64) out of the workforce.

But it’s not just work and injuries that are affected by poor posture – it’s also your confidence and how you’re perceived by others. Poor posture and the non-verbal body language that comes with it gives others cues as to how we feel, what we’re thinking, and whether we want to be approached. Standing tall with your shoulders back can help you appear more confident and engaged.

'Stand up straight'

We've all heard 'stand up straight!' and 'put your shoulders back!' - but there's a bit more to it than this. Let's look into easy ways you can really straighten up while enjoying the many perks of good posture. You can try these both in and outside the gym to gradually build strength around your back and core - and in return, make it part of your daily routine to maintain healthy posture.

1. Strength train your posterior chain

Focusing on exercises that target the muscles along the backside of your body, such as deadlifts, rows, reverse fly’s and chin-ups, can help correct posture. The posterior chain includes the glutes, hamstrings and erector spinae (muscles along your spine) and is essential for maintaining good posture, enhancing athletic performance and reducing your risk of injuries.

On top of the physical impacts of exercising these muscle groups, you won’t believe how good you feel, too.

2. Weave in core exercises into your routine

A strong core is the foundation for good posture. Incorporating exercises like planks, glute bridges and almost any kettlebell exercise can stabilise your midsection and lower back.

Core exercises do more than just build your muscles. They’re a superhero when it comes to avoiding injury in and outside the gym, aligning your spine to that S-shaped neutral position while also helping to build a mental awareness of your posture over the long-term.

3. Get your freestyle on

Swimming is one of the most impactful ways to improve your posture. Swimming is so important in so many ways. As a whole-body exercise, your core is constantly engaged when you swim, while your flexibility can be enhanced with those extra laps. Finally, good breathing is a result of better posture. So, why not kickstart these benefits? Swimming expands your lungs and gets oxygen into the blood, supporting your posture outside of the pool.

4. Stretch it out

Tight muscles can pull your body out of alignment. Regular stretching after a workout – particularly of the chest, hips, and hamstrings – can increase flexibility and reduce the risk of posture-related strains.

Once you get all those muscles stretched, a massage for athletic recovery can complement your work in the gym by making sure you avoid injury. 

5. Improve your desk

Think about how much time you spend behind the desk compared with at the gym. We can do all the work we like strengthening our back and core for a few hours each week but compare that with 40 hours sitting down behind a desk and all that good work can fail to make an impact.

If you spend a lot of time at a desk, an ergonomic setup is essential. Not just for avoiding back pain, but also for how we perceive ourselves while we work. Make sure your desk and chair are at the correct height and your computer screen is at eye level. Consider a stand-up desk that gives you the freedom to choose how you work.

Finally, consider regular alarms that get you up walking or schedule active meetings where you share ideas on-the-go as you walk around the block.

Kick-start your way towards a healthy back

Improving your posture won't happen overnight. But don't worry! Now you have the right tools and you're one step ahead in your journey to supporting your back. So, where do you start? Try a Yoga class - Yoga offers the perfect mix of core exercises, body alignment, and of course, a great stretch. Or, work on your strength and flexibility with a Reformer Pilates class. Whichever you choose, your back will thank you.

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