Exercises to Improve Posture & Flexibility
You can probably still hear your mother’s voice ringing in your memory from childhood: “Stand up straight, don’t slouch!” Well, she wasn’t being mean (at least not entirely) – it really was for your own good. Having good posture can benefit every aspect of your health, from your spine to digestion to the stress you feel at work. Here are some easy tips and exercises to help you improve posture to feel better, move easier, and protect your joint health.
1. Sit up straight.
To help prevent you from getting that horrible kink in your back, set your chair at the appropriate height with your feet flat on the floor. If you sit at a computer all day, adjust your arms so that they are not strained when typing. And of course, sit up straight when working in a chair. Adjust your computer screen so that your neck stays straight, preventing neck and eyestrain. Be sure that your back is properly supported and rested, and there are supportive lumbar pillows you can add to most any chair to help improve posture and help you properly support your back.
2. Walk this way.
An improved posture when walking can help reduce the strain we put on certain joints and decrease joint discomfort. Comfortable shoes are always the first step to a successful walk. They should be supportive to your natural arch, and if necessary, you can use inserts in your shoes to help make your feet more comfortable. When walking, take steps of equal length and bend your knees and ankles in a fluid rolling motion. Walk on flat surfaces to prevent injury. The average person walks 1000 to 3000 steps daily, so if you can add in a few extra steps each day, you can walk your way to better health. Every little bit makes a difference.
3. Don’t slouch.
Your mother was right to tell you to stop slouching for many reasons. When we slouch, we prevent our body from working in its natural position, impeding digestion, our breathing, and proper bloodflow. For the best posture when standing, your weight should be distributed equally on both feet. Roll back your shoulders so that they are level and relaxed. Tuck in your tummy. Imagine a straight line running down your body pulling your head up and your body tall.
4. Lay me down to sleep.
Is it time for a new mattress? Flipping or rotating your mattress every other month can help prevent it from having caved-in spots that interfere with a good night’s sleep. If the damage is already done, you may want to start shopping around for a new one. You should also replace your pillow every year to keep your body aligned while you sleep.
5. Exercise in the office.
Do these simple exercises at the office to help prevent joint discomfort behind your desk.
- Shoulder and Hand Stretch: Sit up tall in your chair, lace your fingers together and turn your palms away from your body, pushing out to a comfortable position. Keep your shoulders down and hold this for 10 seconds. And repeat the stretch 5 more times (or spread it throughout the day). Do not put strain on your shoulders or elbows while doing this, just do what feels good for your body.
- Arm Stretch: Hold your right arm straight out in front of you and bring it across your chest toward the left shoulder. With your left hand, grab just behind the right elbow and pull it gently toward you for a good stretch in the right arm. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and then switch arms. This will help stretch the shoulders as well, easing any tension you may have from sitting at a desk.
- Wrist Stretches:For those of us who type daily, it is important to stretch out your wrists periodically throughout the day. Straight keyboards cause our wrists to tilt inward in an unnatural position leading to a strained feeling that creeps up to our elbows. Rotating our wrists and stretching them out can help warm up the wrists and forearms and prevent unnecessary strain.
- Overhead Stretch: Similar to the first stretch, we want to stretch our arms above our heads to stretch the upper torso, shoulders and the hands.
You don’t have to become a yogi and do headstands against the wall to keep your body in balance. Getting enough sleep, wearing supportive shoes, paying special attention to our posture and daily stretching exercises are easy ways we can help ease discomfort in our joints. If you’re interested in a quality natural supplement for joint & cartilage health, check out Rudofil – it’s a great non-prescription alternative made with glucosamine, curcumin, and resveratrol.