Posture Exercises for a Straight Back (Daily Physio Routine)

These posture exercises for a straight back help you reverse slouched posture and stand tall.

This Physical Therapist video guides you through posture correction exercises for a straight back including:

  1. Chest stretches
  2. Spinal flexibility
  3. Back strengthening

Suitability: This video is suited to individuals seeking general information about how to improve posture with exercise.

Please scroll below this video for more information on these posture correction exercises.

1. Chest Stretches to Promote a Straight Back

Dynamic chest stretches are included as part of the warm up at the start of this posture correction video.

The chest stretches demonstrated in this exercise video are directed primarily at the Pectoral muscles. These large chest muscles attach to the upper arm and can cause the shoulders to round forwards, increasing the tendency towards slouched posture.

Pectoral muscle flexibility exercises have been  successfully incorporated into exercise interventions to address rounded shoulder posture in swimmers 1.

Pectoral Stretch 1

Starting Position

Start with your feet apart, knees slightly bent and grasp the ends of a towel in each hand

Action

  • Raise the towel above your head keeping your elbows straight
  • Push your chest forwards and raise your sternum
  • Feel the stretch in your chest muscles
  • Maintain this chest stretch for 10 seconds at a time and repeat 2-3 times

Pectoral Stretch 2

Starting Position

Start with your feet apart, knees slightly bent and grasp the towel with your hands approximately shoulder width apart

Action

  • Raise the towel above your head keeping your elbows bent and shoulder raised to approximately 90 degrees (right angle position)
  • Feel the stretch across your upper chest and the front of your shoulders
  • Maintain this chest stretch for 10 seconds at a time and repeat 2-3 times

2. Spinal Flexibility Exercises Using a Foam Roller

The spine has natural curves for shock absorption. These spinal joints that help movement of the spine can become stiff, increasing the difficulty of maintaining good posture.

The foam roller exercises aim to straighten up your spine by improving your spinal flexibility and the movement of your spinal joints. The foam roller has been successfully incorporated into therapeutic exercise programs aimed at improving postural alignment of the spine 2.

Upper and Middle Back Foam Roller Exercise

Starting Position

Lying supine position the foam roller horizontally under the middle back with feet flat, knees bent and buttocks raised off the ground

Action

  • Keep the head and neck supported in neutral position
  • Slowly move the foam roller up and down the middle and upper spine with your elbows wide apart
  • Bring the elbows close supporting the head and neck throughout and move the foam roller up and down your spine
  • Repeat these foam rolling exercises 5-10 times in a row

3. Back Strengthening Exercises for a Straight Back

The back strengthening exercises demonstrated in this video strengthen the postural muscles that control the position of your shoulder blades. These muscles help you stand tall by raising your sternum forwards giving you an upright straight back appearance.

These postural exercises strengthen:

  • Lower and middle trapezius muscles
  • Rhomboid muscles

Similar back strength exercises have been effective when incorporated into exercise studies directed at improving forward rounded shoulder posture 1,3.

Back Strength Exercise 1

Starting Position

  • Commence lying prone on a firm surface with your arms by your sides and palms facing the supporting surface
  • Your forehead and feet should remain in contact with the supporting surface
  • Use a small cushion or pillow under your pelvis if you have a sway back (large inward back curve) or lower back discomfort when lying prone

Action

  • Gently move your shoulders in the direction away from your ears (you should feel your shoulder blades move towards each other and slightly down towards your feet)
  • Next repeat this same action squeezing your shoulder blades together as you raise both arms backwards above the ground before lowering them slowly back down to your starting position
  • Repeat this exercise up to 10 times in a row, building up to 3 times daily
  • When you feel confident with this exercise progress to exercise 2

Back Strength Exercise 2

Starting Position

  • Start in the same prone position described above for Exercise 1
  • Bend your shoulders and elbows to 90 degrees lying prone with your palms facing the ground. If you can’t raise your arms to 90 degrees, try moving them just slightly away from the sides of your trunk

Action

  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together and slightly downwards (i.e. move your shoulders away from your ears)
  • Raise your forearms, elbows and upper arms off the ground and squeeze your shoulder blades together
  • Lower your arms down slowly to your starting position
  • Repeat this exercise up to 10 times in a row, building up to 3 times daily
  • When you feel confident with this exercise you may choose to progress to exercise 3

Back Strength Exercise 3

Starting Position

  • Commence using the same prone position described above
  • Extend both arms above your head with your palms facing down to the ground so that your body and arms form a “Figure Y”

Action

  • Keep your head in contact with the ground as you raise both arms simultaneously off the ground and slowly return them to the ground
  • Your gaze should remain directed down towards the mat to avoid hyper extending your neck
  • To progress this exercise raise your chest and shoulders off the ground while raising both arms from the ground
  • Repeat this exercise up to 10 times in a row, building up to 3 times daily

All the exercises described are designed to give you the general appearance of having a straight back when standing and sitting upright. Posture therapy can take 2-3 months for a noticeable effect. Try to incorporate these posture exercises into your regular exercise routine to improve your upright posture.

Further Information

» How to Correct Posture for Successful Pelvic Floor Exercises

» How to Use a Foam Roller for Back Pain and Stiffness

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References

1. Lynch, S et al (2010) The effects of an exercise intervention on forward head and rounded shoulder postures in elite swimmers. British Journal of Sports medicine, Volume 44, Issue 5, pp 376-381. Retrieved from https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/44/5/376.long3

2. Roylance, D. et al (2013)  Evaluating Acute Changes in Joint Range-of-motion using Self-myofascial Release, Postural Alignment Exercises, and Static Stretches. International Journal of Exercise Science, 6(4) : 310-319, 2013. Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.wku.edu/ijes/vol6/iss4/6/

3. Ruivo, R. et al (2017) Effects of a Resistance and Stretching Training Program on Forward Head and Protracted Shoulder Posture in Adolescent Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. Volume 40, Issue 1, January 2017, pp 1-10. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0161475416302470

Comments

  1. Thankyou Michelle for your newsletters and videos I am currently working on the rounded shoulders exercises they are really helpful and are improving my posture.
    You are very and thoughtful sending out this information in helping women with our pelvic exercises and keeping us strong.
    Have a happy day,Thankyou again Linda

    • Author: Michelle Kenway Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist says

      My pleasure Linda, I’m so glad this info helps you with you manage. All the best

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