Hunched or rolled shoulders can result from long days sitting in front of the computer, but a good workout can help you open up your back and strengthen your muscles. Stretching can keep your shoulders and back limber. Strength training can encourage good posture, especially if you work your upper body. Core exercises are important too, as they will improve your general posture and keep your spine straight.
EditStretching Your Back
- Warm up by rolling your shoulders. Before you start stretching, warm up your back muscles by rolling your shoulders. Start with a set of ten forward shoulder rolls followed by ten backwards shoulder rolls.
- You can also do arm circles. Stretch out your arms to either side at shoulder height, and make small circles for about ten seconds. Reverse the direction of the circle, and repeat for another ten seconds.
- Do a goalpost stretch. For this exercise, you will need either a jump rope, yoga strap, belt, or other rope. Stand straight, and hold the strap between both hands. Stretch your arms out in front of your body, keeping them at shoulder height. As you inhale, lift your straight arms above your head. As you exhale, bring them back down to shoulder height.
- This exercise can be repeated three to five times.
- Perform a T-stretch. Lie down with a foam roller propped along your spine; your head, shoulders, and upper back should all be touching the roller. Your knees should be bent with your feet flat on the ground. Stretch your arms out to the side to make a “T” shape. Your arms should form a straight line with your shoulders. Hold this pose for one minute.
- Clasp your hands behind your shoulders. Hold your hands behind your back, keeping your arms straight. Pull back on your shoulders with your arms. You should feel your chest open and stretch as your shoulders squeeze.
- Make angels on the floor or wall. Lie down on the floor, and prop a rolled towel or foam roller under your spine. Place your arms on the ground above your arm, and gently sweep them down towards your side, as if you were making snow angels on the floor. Do this for two or three minutes.
- If the foam roller makes it too difficult for you, you can remove it for a simpler exercise.
- You can also do this exercise against a wall. Stand with your spine flat against the wall. Hold your arms above your head but pressed against the wall. Bring your arms down slowly to your side and back up again.
EditBuilding Strength in Your Upper Body
- Stand in a downward facing dog pose. Start by standing, and lean forward until your hands are on the ground and your hips in the air. Imagine your body is a straight line from your hips to your hands; this will help you lengthen your spine. Hold this pose for up to a minute.
- Lift dumbbells in a Y-raise. Lie face down on a stability ball while holding a dumbbell in each hand. Your legs should extend straight behind you, and your feet should be spaced slightly wider than your shoulders. When you start, your arms should be stretched out below your shoulders. Lift the dumbbells above shoulder height, keeping your arms straight, before lowering them down again.
- Do two to three sets of ten reps.
- Row with a resistance band. Set up a resistance band on a door or sturdy piece of furniture. Holding onto the ends of the band, move back a few feet. With your legs slightly bent and spine straight, start “rowing” with the band by pulling your elbows back behind your waist. Squeeze your shoulder blades, and return to starting position.
- Each set should be ten reps. You can do up to two or three reps.
- If this exercise is too difficult, you might try sitting on a chair while doing it.
- The resistance band should be about waist height.
- Perform lat pull downs. At the gym, find a pull-down machine with a wide bar. Hold the bar with your chest slightly puffed out. As you exhale, pull the bar down until it almost touches your chest. After holding the pose for a second, slowly raise the bar back to starting position, inhaling as you do so.
- You can do multiple sets of ten reps each.
- Before starting this exercise, adjust the seat to your height, and make sure that the correct weight is chosen.
EditStabilizing Your Core
- Hold a plank pose. Go down on your hands and knees; your palms should be directly under your shoulders. Stretch both legs out behind you. This should be similar to the beginning of a push-up, but instead of lowering yourself, you will hold this position for at least 30 seconds.
- Keep your abdominal muscles pulled in to help stability.
- This exercise will build strength throughout your body, including your shoulders and back.
- If this move is too easy for you, try doing it while resting on your forearms.
- Lift your back. Sit with your legs extended straight in front of you and your feet together. Put your hands behind your back, fingers pointing forward. Lift your body up, straightening out your back and spine as you do so. Your body should form a straight line leading down between your head and your toes.
- Hold this pose for up to ten seconds, before slowly returning to the starting position.
- Your feet should be pointed as you raise your body.
- Perform medicine ball deadbugs. Start with your back against the ground. Hold a medicine ball between your knees and elbows. Stretch out your right leg and your left arm while the left leg and right arm hold the medicine ball. Bring the arm and leg back in so that they are holding the medicine ball, and stretch out the other leg and arm.
- Do eight to ten reps on each leg.
- Use a three to five pound (one to two kilo) medicine ball for this exercise.
- Do thoracic spine extensions. Lie down with a foam roller under your spine. Bend your legs with both feet flat on the ground. With your hands behind your head, pull in your elbows towards one another, and lean your head back against the floor. Roll the foam up or down your spine until you reach a sensitive, tense, or sore spot. Lift your head ten times before returning to the starting position.
- Once you have done one set, roll the foam to a new position, and repeat until you have worked your entire spine.
- When you sit, make sure your spine is straight and your shoulders are back. This will help you keep a good posture.
- Exercising your entire body can help prevent bad posture. When you work out, don’t neglect your arms, legs, or other parts of your body.
- Stretches do not have to be done while working out. You can do them when you wake up in the morning or after you get home from work.
- Remember to breathe as you exercise to prevent injury.
- It is important to maintain good posture, especially if you are lifting weights.