When you were a kid, you probably hated it when grown-ups told you to “stand up straight,” am I right? But they were on to something. Good posture is essential for balance, maintaining muscle, and reducing your chances of pain and injury.
When you stand up straight with good posture, all of your weight is distributed evenly across your feet. This means you’ll have better balance and are more equipped to safely get up from your chair, carry groceries, walk down the block, or perform virtually any activity.
But over time, balance can become compromised as a result of poor posture. Too much time sitting or looking at screens can force the body into extended periods in unnatural positions. Sitting can also cause “core” muscles to atrophy, compromising balance, and promoting poor posture. One way to combat this is to keep core muscles strong.
Core muscles are the main link between your upper and lower body and reside in the lower back, buttocks, sides, and pelvis. When they are active and robust, it can significantly improve posture and balance. Here are a few exercises to help build a stronger core.
- Lie on your back with knees bent. Keep back in a neutral position (straight, not arched or pressed into the floor). Avoid tilting hips and keep abdominal muscles tight.
- Raise hips off the floor until they form a straight diagonal line with your knees and shoulders. Hold for three deep breaths.
- Return to starting position and repeat as many times as possible.
Single-Leg Abdominal Press:
- Lie on your back with bent knees and assume the same starting position as the bridge.
- Raise right leg off the floor so your knee and hip are both bent at 90-degree angles. Rest the right hand on top of the right knee.
- Push your hand against your knee, while using abdominal muscles to pull your knee towards your hand. Keep are straight and hold for three deep breaths.
- Return to the starting position and do with left leg/left hand.
- Lie on your left side, raising yourself onto your left forearm. Place left shoulder directly above your left elbow, keeping shoulders, hips, and knees in alignment. Rest right arm along the side of your body.
- Tighten abdominal muscles. Hold for three deep breaths, repeat on the right side.
- For added challenge (when you’re experienced), balance on your left hand. Raise hips off the floor and extend your right hand towards the ceiling. Repeat the other way.
More core muscle strength can help you stay upright for better posture. In turn, you’ll be more stable and capable of safely moving around. Try these core exercises to get stronger and improve your chances of staying healthy.