Corrective exercises for poor posture

post by Amy Tulip, NASM CPT

“A good stance and posture reflect a proper state of mind. “

– Morihei Ueshiba

Few things can so readily signal ill health as poor posture – rounded shoulders, a rounding of the back, a shortened gait, or a slight pelvic tilt can spawn a host of negative side effects.

I remember visiting my great grandpa and staring in shock at his extremely arched back. I would sit in fear thinking about how awful it will be to grow old and never stand up straight.

It impacted me deeply, even as a child.

I keep those pictures in mind as I train now, not because I still hold onto the fear, but because I know what can happen if I don’t stay the course.

I have a goal to increase my upper body strength (my pushups still have a long way to go). When I started working out, it was never my intention to correct poor posture, but lo and behold, my muscles drew my slouching shoulders back and lifted my chest.

Exercises to Counter Poor Posture

You can easily train the muscles responsible for pulling your shoulders down (scapular depression) and back (scapular retraction), especially with rowing exercises like:

  • Seated Rows
  • Supported Rows
  • Cable Rows
  • Meadows Rows 
  • Dumbbell Rows
  • T Bar Rows
  • Barbell Rows

For beginners, I recommend doing 3 sets of 15-20 reps at low resistance to condition the muscles. Resistance bands or light dumbbells make for a good starting point. Use just enough weight to make it difficult to complete the last few reps.  

When you want to go to the next level and start sculpting your back, pick up some heavier weights. Drop your reps down to 8-12, and reach failure or near failure by the end of your last set.

If done on a consistent basis, with the right amount of resistance, you’ll see your poor posture slowly improve. That momentum can lead to positive changes in your daily routines, like sitting up straight while on your computer and not slouching over your dinner plate.

Those changes don’t just make you look healthier. A straighter and longer spine can expand your diaphragm, deepen your breathing, increase oxygen intake, enrich your blood, and improve a whole host of internal processes, like cell repair and cognition.

So, embrace the progress, no matter how slow, and enjoy the life-giving energy of good structural alignment!