If you’re like many office workers, you probably spend a significant amount of time at your desk. And that means one thing: slouching. While you can stretch your way to better posture, one of the best solutions for sitting up straighter is amping up your strength-training routine.
It’s simple: When your body is in a slouching position for long periods of time, certain muscles can become weaker. “With forward head posture comes excessive internal rotation of the shoulders,” says Jaclyn Fulop, physical therapist and founder of Exchange Physical Therapy Group. (FWIW, excessive internal rotation of the shoulders is also known as rounded shoulders.) “Over time, this can lead to muscle imbalances as the body tries to adapt and find ways to hold the head up.”
One major culprit of this imbalance could be the upper back, as there are more internal rotational muscles (muscles that move your body inward) than there are external ones (muscles that move your body outward) in this area, and the external muscles often get overlooked when working out. “This causes weaknesses in the upper back, reinforcing poor posture,” she says.
Her tip? Work out your back three times as much as your chest. “This will greatly improve posture, align your shoulders, and restore the curvature in the neck,” she says. Keep scrolling for the exercises to do so that you can sit up straighter in no time.
Here’s how to strength train for better posture
1. Corner wall stretch: Use a corner as an easy tool for opening up your chest muscles and to counteract that forward head posture, says Fulop.
2. External rotation with resistance band: Grab a resistance band and place it around a stable surface, then hold it with one hand as you externally rotate, says Fulop.
3. Horizontal abduction with resistance band: Stick with the band for this other exercise that opens up and strengthens your shoulders, according to Fulop.
4. Dumbbell row: According to Jeff Brannigan, program director at Stretch*d in New York City, the dumbbell row is good for activating your upper back and rear deltoids.
5. Back extension: Brannigan also recommends back extension exercises to counteract poor posture. Think moves like the Superman, or these back extension exercises from Pilates instructor Helen Phelan.
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