How to Fix Your Terrible Posture
If you're reading this hunched over your desk or phone—so, everyone reading this—it's time to fix your posture. Bad posture can ruin your progress at the gym by putting unnatural stress on your joints and muscles, which makes them stiff, tense, and overworked. That in turn saddles you with lower back pain, neck pain, achy shoulders, migraines, and even digestive system problems.
Good posture, however, can decrease (or even eliminate) those issues. With proper alignment, you give your chronically tight muscles a rest while strengthening the correct muscles during exercise. Imagine doing a squat with good form: You will feel it in your legs, not your lower back. Over time, that means more strength in the muscles you're trying to target and fewer aches and injuries. (It will put you in a better mood, too.) Read on for the exercises you can do right now to cure your slouch.
6 Easy Posture Exercises
It only takes a few minutes to do these corrective exercises at your office or home. Go through this entire circuit 1 to 2 times per day, depending on how much time you have. You'll feel pretty damn good afterward.
30 seconds each side
If you hunch over a desk at work, chances are you have tight pecs. The problem is tight pecs yank your shoulders forward, causing aches and pains. Stretch and relax your chest muscles with this stretch, and your shoulders will return "down and back" to their natural position.
Bent Over T-Spine Extension
8 reps each side
This stretch opens the area of your mid-back—your thoracic spine—that gets extremely tight after hours of sitting in front of a computer.
Once you stretch out your tight pecs and thoracic spine, strengthen the weaker muscles at your mid- and upper-back. This will help keep your shoulders in their optimal position.
Bent Over L's
Some people tend to do many pushing exercises (like the bench press and push-up) while neglecting their rear shoulder muscles. Use this simple drill to help you sit or stand straight after slouching over the computer. (Once you get stronger, do it while holding 2.5-pound plates, or small books.)
Hip Flexor Stretch
30 seconds each side
Spending hours in a chair makes your hip flexor muscles tight, which tilts your pelvis and worsens the curve of your lower back. Do this stretch to return your pelvis and lower back to a normal position.
5 reps each side
Finish this circuit with a drill that targets your core while maintaining the correct pelvic position to make the changes stick.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.