10 Good Posture Exercises to Improve Your Posture

Improving your posture may seem like an impossible task; but, when it comes to posture, small changes can lead to big results.

11 min read

Health & Wellness

10 Good Posture Exercises to Improve Your Posture

Did anyone else grow up with nagging comments from your parents to ‘stop slouching’ at the dinner table? If so, it turns out mom and dad may have been onto more than just proper etiquette.

Having the strength and mobility to move well throughout the day gives you freedom to do whatever you want to do in life. Sitting and performing daily movements with good posture can help prevent muscle strain, stress on joints and ligaments, overuse disorders, and back pain.

Improving your posture may seem like an impossible task; but, when it comes to posture, small changes can lead to big results. With the focused exercises, stretches and tips below, you’ll be on your way to better posture in no time!


What is Posture?

Posture is the way that you carry yourself throughout the day. Our posture can be good or bad and it can also be either static or dynamic.

  • Static Posture: Static posture is how you hold yourself when you are not moving, like when you are sitting, standing, or sleeping.
  • Dynamic Posture: Dynamic posture is how you carry yourself when you are moving, like when you are walking, strength training, or bending over to pick up some bags or a basket of laundry.

Both static and dynamic posture are important for helping you move better throughout the day whether sitting, standing, walking, eating, working, working out and beyond.


Why Is Good Posture Important?

It’s important to work on having both good static and dynamic posture because when we have good posture, the muscles surrounding the spine are balanced and supporting the body equally.

Bad posture can:

  • Misalign your musculoskeletal system
  • Wear at your spine, making it more fragile and prone to injury
  • Cause neck, shoulder, and back pain
  • Decrease your mobility
  • Make it harder to breathe
  • Make it harder to digest your food

Prioritizing good posture can help us avoid the negative effects of poor posture, while continually reinforcing good posture will help us gain strength and mobility to help us move better every day!


How to Improve Your Posture

To improve your posture, I recommend a well-rounded approach. Good posture is not just mindfully holding your body upright all day (although that helps), there’s a lot more that comes into play from your surroundings, overall health, and even simple exercises and stretches to make it a whole lot easier!


1. Assess Work & Home Settings

Your work and home should be set up to help you have good posture, not hurt it. First, make sure your desk and chair are at the appropriate height for you.

Your chair should be adjusted so you can always firmly plant both feet on the floor. Your legs should form a 90-degree angle at the knee and try not to cross your legs throughout the day.

Keep your shoulders down and back, chest up, and neck neutral; focus on sitting up, in a neutral position.

While your setup at the office is important, you spend a lot of time at home too. Make sure couches, tables, and even your bed are set up for you to optimize your posture as much as possible.


2. Be Mindful of Posture

Being mindful of your posture is half the battle. While there are many ways you can adjust your environment to help you practice better posture, if it isn’t on your mind, you’re likely slouching anyway.

To practice more mindfulness, there’s a few games I like to play with myself to keep my posture (and frankly, any other healthy habit I’m working on) at the top of mind. One of my favorites is to set an alarm. I have an Apple Watch, so I’m able to set an alarm that simply vibrates every 30 minutes. I enjoy that it’s quiet, so it doesn’t scare me or bother anyone around me, just a gentle nudge. Each time it vibrates I check back in with my posture.


3. Stay Active

Remember: motion is lotion. When you move, your joints stay lubricated, and you have regular circulation flowing to your joints, bones and muscles which will help your body feel fresh and mobile.

 A phrase you may have heard in your high school physics class is ‘an object in motion stays at motion’ - that phrase applies here as well. When you train your body to move, you’re more prepared to move. That strength and mobility translates to your everyday life, your work life, your workouts and beyond.


4. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Carrying a heavier amount of weight can take its toll on your pelvis and spine and contribute to low back pain - all of which can contribute to poor posture overtime. Working to maintain a healthy weight is not only good for your overall health but can help to improve your posture too.

If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to weight loss, taking better care of yourself can go a long way. Just following along with the other tips included in this article would be big strides towards your wellness if you aren’t already doing them. Eating a healthier diet, participating in regular exercise, and caring for your mental health are all important elements of a weight loss routine that you should consider if you’re serious about losing weight.


5. Wear Comfortable Shoes

The shoes you wear matter. You probably carefully consider what shoes you wear during your workouts because you know a good pair of running shoes or cycling shoes can make or break your workout. Why don’t we approach our everyday lives the same? Your body matters no less when you’re at work than when you’re working out.

So, wear comfortable and supportive, low-heeled shoes. Your shoes should support you as you walk around throughout the day, and keep your ankles supported, comfortable, and stacked evenly.


6. Practice Good Posture Stretches & Exercises

You can reinforce your posture by intentionally training your body to move better. I recommend incorporating both strength and stretching exercises into your routine for best results.

You can increase your postural strength by strengthening underactive or weak muscles needed to maintain good posture. And you can improve postural flexibility and mobility by stretching overactive or tight muscles that are tense from compensating and relying on them too much throughout the day.


Posture Exercises to Improve Your Posture

To improve your static and dynamic posture it’s important that we gain the strength and mobility to carry ourselves properly throughout the day; as well as, through a variety of movements like twisting, bending over, and pulling. Below I’ve included my favorite strength and mobility exercises to help you unlock better posture. Follow along with Sunny Trainer Sam Candler as she guides you through each move or check out the quick tips below to get started right now.



Strength Exercises to Improve Your Posture

By strengthening weak or underactive muscles that we need for good posture throughout the day, like our back, core, and even glutes you’ll be one step to moving closer in daily life and your workouts.


1.Staggered Stance Row

Rows are great for strengthening the major muscles of the back which are key in maintaining good posture.


Woman rowing kettlebell

How To:

  1. For this exercise, grab a kettlebell or dumbbell and begin holding it with a neutral grip in your right hand (we’ll switch and do the left side later).
  2. Start in a staggered stance, with your weight through your left foot, and right foot behind you, propped up for balance.
  3. Hinge your hips back, keeping nice posture with a straight line from your head, through your spine.
  4. From here, exhale, and row your right arm back to your rib cage.
  5. Slowly lower the weight, and repeat 10-12 reps, switch sides.


2.Kettlebell Halo

This move is great for increasing mobility and strengthening your entire shoulder girdle, and if performed right, even help with core stability!


Woman rotating kettlebell around

How To:

  1. Hold a kettlebell upside down at your chest, in a half kneeling position, with one knee down and the other knee forward like you’re going to propose. Here your glutes should be activated, and core tight.
  2. Reach the kettlebell around your head, all the way behind and back down again.
  3. Pay attention to your core, it should be engaged all the way through, so you don’t have any arching or bending at the spine.
  4. After 10-12 reps, switch sides.


3. Glute Bridge

Glute bridges are great for increasing - you guessed it - your glute strength, which can help you maintain good posture through your trunk and pelvis.

Woman doing glute bridge

How To:

  1. Start lying down on your back with knees bent. Here, your fingertips should just be able to touch the backs of your heels. You can keep your hands at your sides while performing this exercise.
  2. Breathe in, and as you breathe out push through your feet, focusing your energy through your heels, using your glutes and hamstrings to lift your hips up off the ground.
  3. At the top of each rep, you should form a straight line through the top of your legs and core, and engage your core during the exercise to ensure you maintain a neutral spine.
  4. Slowly lower to the ground, repeat for 10-12 reps.


4. Plank

Core stability is essential for bracing your trunk in a neutral spine position - where your spine is evenly stacked and supported by your core musculature.


Woman planking

How To:

  1. Lower onto your elbows and squeeze your shoulder blades down and back.
  2. From here, elevate knees off the ground, pressing your heels to the wall behind you.
  3. In your plank, you should form a straight line from your head to your heels, and also feel your belly button pulling up towards your spine, while keeping your hips low in line with your body.
  4. Practice holding your plank for 30, 45, 60 seconds and beyond. Rest and repeat.

    5. Bird Dog

    This is a great exercise to practice stability through movement - a skill that’s useful through all dynamic movement in regular life and in your workouts.


    Woman stretching

    How To:

    1. Start on all fours, with knees stacked below the hips, and hands behind shoulders. Corkscrew your shoulders and firmly plant your hands into the ground to create a stable base.
    2. From here, simultaneously extend your right arm and left leg. You should form a straight line from your fingertips to your heel.
    3. Squeeze at the core to crunch your right elbow and left knee together in the middle and re-extend.
    4. After 10-12 reps, switch sides.


    Stretching Exercises to Improve Your Posture

    By stretching tight or overactive muscles that we rely on instead of our postural muscles (like our chest and lower back which can get tense from all that slouching), we can open up our mobility and find some relief.


    6. Chest Stretch

    If you slouch throughout the day, odds are your chest is tight. Let’s open it up with a stretch. We have two options for you here depending on what’s available to you.


    Woman doing chest stretch

    How To:

    Option 1

    1. Grasp your hands behind your back in a fist and roll your shoulders behind your body.
    2. Hold this position for 30 seconds.

    Woman doing chest stretch pt. 2

    Option 2

    1. Extend your arms out at your sides (or place both hands on the side of a doorframe for some leverage).
    2. Step forward, stretching your hands behind you, opening your chest and pecs.
    3. Hold this position for 30 seconds.


    7. Upward Dog

    Upward dog is another great chest opening exercise while also stretching out your core and lengthening your spine.


    Woman doing upward dog stretch

    How To:

    1. Lay on your belly, with hands right beneath your shoulders. You can tuck your toes or stretch them out, whatever you prefer.
    2. From here, stretch up with your upper body, extending your arms and looking up towards the ceiling and pressing your shoulder blades down your back.
    3. If this is too much of a stretch, you can modify it by bending your arms to adjust your stretch to what feels best to you.
    4. Hold this position for 30 seconds.


    8. T Spine Rotation

    This exercise stretches your middle and upper back - your T Spine area - which is responsible for the infamous tight upper back stiffness after hunching over your computer all day.


    Woman doing spine stretch

    How To:

    1. Lay down on your side with legs bent, and bottom arm laying out in front of you.
    2. Open up your top arm stretching it all the way to the other side. Follow your arm with your eyes and try to keep the shoulder of your lower arm planted firmly on the ground.
    3. You can use this as a mobility exercise and repeat for 10-12 reps, or simply relax in this position for 30 seconds.
    4. Don’t forget to repeat on the other side.


    9. Downward Dog

    Downward dog will help you stretch out your full body. If you have underactive glutes, guess what’s overactive? Your hamstrings. Downward dog will help stretch all of that lower body tightness out and align your spine too!


    Woman doing downward dog

    How To:

    1. Put your hands beneath your shoulders and come up to a high plank position.
    2. Push your hips back, extending through the upper body.
    3. Try to lower the chest towards the floor, while pressing your heels towards the ground.
    4. Hold this position for 30 seconds.


    10. Cat Cow 

    Cat cow is a great dynamic stretch to get into your neck, shoulders, spine, and back. If your upper body is uncomfortable, add this one to your routine!


    Woman doing catcow stretch

    How To:

    1. Start on all fours, with knees stacked below the hips, and hands behind shoulders. Corkscrew your shoulders, pull down your back, and firmly plant your hands into the ground to create a stable base.
    2. Breathe in and arch your back, looking up to the sky.
    3. Breathe out and round your spine and look towards your belly button.
    4. Repeat for 10-12 reps, or as many times as feels good to you.


    In Closing

    There are many tips, exercises and stretches that are easy to incorporate into your routine that have major benefits on your posture; so, keep working towards each of them little by little, and remind yourself that little changes can amount to a lot over time.


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