20 Minutes to Improve Posture

These simple stretching and strengthening exercises target muscles (such as the hamstrings and abdominals) essential to good posture. Try to do these exercises in the morning and again in the evening.

Lower-back and abdominal workout.

  1. Lie on your back with arms out to your sides.
  2. Bend your knees and raise them toward your chest.
  3. Slowly lower both knees to the floor on one side.
  4. Hold for 15 seconds.
  5. Bring knees back to starting position and lower to other side.
  6. Repeat 5 times on each side.

Thigh stretch.

  1. Lying flat on your stomach, grasp left ankle with left hand.
  2. Press the leg back toward the floor against hand resistance.
  3. Hold for 20 seconds.
  4. Then pull leg upward so that the heel touches your buttocks.
  5. Hold for 20 seconds, then lower your leg part way.
  6. Repeat 5 times with each leg.

Hamstring stretch.

  1. Working with a partner, sit on the floor with legs straight and hands behind you for balance.
  2. Put one leg on partner's shoulder and press down 20 seconds.
  3. Then ask partner to press down just above your knee while he raises up slightly to create a passive stretch.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds.
  5. Repeat 5 times with each leg.

Neck stretch.

  1. Sitting on a stool or chair, and holding the seat with your right hand, put your left hand on the rear right side of your head.
  2. Gently pull your head down while rotating your chin to the left.
  3. Change hands and repeat on the opposite side.
  4. Repeat 5 times on each side.
You can also stretch your neck by gently pulling head down toward shoulder without rotating neck. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.

Shoulder and upper back workout.

  1. Sit on a straight chair, but without touching the back.
  2. With hands clasped behind your head, raise your shoulders toward your ears, then press down.
  3. Press the back of your head into your hands, so that muscles along your spine tighten; hold for 5 seconds.
  4. Press your elbows back 10 times, so that you feel the movement in your shoulder blades.

Back stretch.

  1. Hold the rim of a sink to brace yourself, with your arms straight but not locked.
  2. Place your feet hip-width apart, right under your shoulders, with knees slightly bent.
  3. With your head hanging slightly and neck muscles relaxed, let your hips sink back as if you were about to sit down.
  4. Feel the stretch down the length of your spine.
  5. Hold position for 10 seconds.
  6. Gradually stand up.
  7. Repeat 5 times.

Source: Originally published in The University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter (May 2011)

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at HealthCommunities.com

Published: 05 Apr 2011

Last Modified: 01 Sep 2015