The Best Posture Correction Exercises [13 Proven Methods]

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So, you just realized that you have bad posture.  Don’t feel bad, you are actually ahead of the curve.

The vast majority of people who suffer from bad posture don’t even know they have it.

Fortunately, that will change today.

We are going to share with you the best posture correction exercises so that you can reclaim your body today.

I suffered from all four of these horrible postures in the past, and I have spent several years of my life researching and learning how to reverse them.

The best part?

You will obtain all of this experience today. This post will summarize what I have learned over the years.

 

Welcome to the third installment of the WCT Posture Series:

I recommend that you read through those articles first.

 

Today’s post will cover

  • The muscles that are stretched and weakened in each of the 4 major postural inefficiencies as well as the muscles that are tight and overly activated
  • Stretches and exercises that can help alleviate each of the bad postures
  • Postural awareness cues that you can use for when you’re on the go

Let’s get started.

 

The Best Posture Correction Exercises: Quick Start Guide

In order for you to improve your posture, you must understand three things:

1) Awareness of what the bad posture is

If you have read Part 2 of this series, then you should have identified which postures you currently have.

If you don’t know you have it, then you will never be able to fix it.

2) Exercises and stretches to reverse these positions

Once you know which of these postures you have, you can quickly refer to the section in this post that discusses the posture in detail.

Each section will show you the best exercises and stretches that you can perform to begin reversing those positions.

3) Ability to identify Daily activities that worsen the bad posture

Lastly, it is also important to be aware of your body position throughout the day.

Even if you perform the stretches and exercises outlined here, but you continue to remain in poor positions, you will negate the benefits of the treatment.  

This is why we will also go over quick postural cues that you can use to quickly fix your posture when you notice yourself to be in a poor position.

 

If you follow the advice in this article, you will begin to notice an improvement in your posture in as little as 4 weeks.

We are here to give you actionable information so that you can begin using these strategies right now.

What are you waiting for?

 

How to Improve Bad Posture#1: Forward Head

 

Weak/Stretched Muscles

-The Neck Flexors (The Front of Your Neck)

In forward head posture, the muscles in the front of your neck are constantly stretched and never activated. These are the muscles that bring your chin to your chest and allow you to nod.

 

Tight/Overactive Muscles

-The Neck Extensors (The Back of Your Neck)

Conversely, the opposite muscles, the ones that extend your neck are in constant tension. This makes them more likely to get tight, develop muscular knots, and cause neck pain.

 

Bad Posture Exercises That You Should Avoid If You Have Forward Head

The neck extensors are already tight in a forward head posture.

So naturally, you want to avoid any exercises or activities that extend the neck.

  • This includes that weird neck raise exercise you may have seen people doing at the gym.
  • Doing chin-ups or pull-ups and trying to “clear” your chin above the bar instead of focusing on your back
  • Avoid having your computer screen to high which will cause you to look up and maintain an extended neck position.

Do your best to set your chair, desk, and computer at an appropriate height to maintain a neutral neck position.

In addition, do your best to bring your cell phone to the level of your face to avoid having your neck in a sub-optimal position.

 

The Best Posture Correction Exercises For Forward Head

-Posterior Neck Stretch

This stretch will help elongate those muscle fibers that are tight and shortened. These can be done anywhere and everywhere. Hold for 20 seconds at a time.

 

-Chin Tucks

 

Chin tucks simply contract and activate the muscles that are never used in the front of your neck. This can be done for repetitions of 5-8 after you’ve stretched the posterior neck. Hold for a 1 count.

 

– Trap Smash

 

Your upper back and trapezius muscles will be full of trigger points that are tight and painful in a forward head posture.

Use a Theracane or Lacrosse Balls to find your hot spots and apply deep focused pressure to massage those areas.

You can also move your arms in different positions to unlock different sensitive areas. 5-10 minutes of “smashing” three times a week should be sufficient.

Posture Tips to Reset the Forward Head Posture (At Home or Work)

  • Raise Your Chest
  • Depress Your Shoulders (the opposite of shrugging)
  • Bring Your Neck Back Over Your Shoulders

 

Use this sequence to reset your neck back into the correct position whenever you notice that you are not in an optimal position.

 

How to Improve Bad Posture#2: Rounded Thoracic Spine (Kyphosis)

good-posture-exercises-rounded-spine

Weak/Stretched Muscles

  1. Upper Back
  2. Mid Back

Your back muscles are meant to retract and bring items closer to you. With a rounded spine, these muscles are always in the opposite position- protracted, lengthened and weak.

 

Tight/Overactive Muscles

  1. Chest
  2. Anterior Shoulders

With a hunched posture, the muscles on the anterior side of your torso are constantly flexed.

This includes your chest muscles, your anterior shoulders and believe it or not, your abs.

 

Bad Posture Exercises That You Should Avoid If You Have Kyphosis

When you are in a kyphotic posture, the muscles of your anterior torso are tight and overactive.

Therefore, you must avoid chest dominant pressing exercises that shortens these muscles further.

These include

  • Bench Press
  • Push-ups
  • Dumbbell Flys

In general, pressing exercises are good for you, and should be trained regularly.  However, if you have kyphosis, you should limit the amount of anterior pressing exercises you do.

Also, you want to avoid exercises that lengthen and stretch your back muscles even further.

These include

  • Crunches and sit-ups
  • Hamstring stretches with a rounded spine

 

The Best Posture Correction Exercises For Kyphosis

-Thoracic Extensions

 

This stretch helps to re-position your spine back into its normal anatomical location. It also feels great.

You can do it on a chair, which is great for while you’re at work, or at home using a foam roller. Perform 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions daily.

You can even do this exercise while on your seat, using the top of the backrest as the fulcrum.

 

-Band Pull Aparts

This exercise recruits all of the upper back muscles simultaneously to activate movement patterns that we aren’t used to doing on a daily basis.

This exercise can be done for 12 + reps using a stretch resistance band (the lightest band should suffice)

Keep your elbows completely locked and retract your scapula at the end range.

 

-Double Overhand Stretch

This is another great stretch that can be performed just about anywhere. Keep your arms straight and push your chest and head down towards the floor. Hold this stretch for 20-30 seconds. Perform it often, at least once a day.

 

Good Posture Tips to Reset a Rounded Thoracic Spine (At Home or At Work)

  • Engage your ab muscles while sitting
  • Sit all the way back in your seat, keeping your upper back in contact with the backrest.
  • Shrug and roll your shoulders back to reset them to their natural position

Use this sequence to reset your thoracic spine back into the correct position whenever you notice that you are not in an optimal position.

 

 

How to Improve Bad Posture #3: Rounded Shoulders  

posture-correction-exercises-shoulders

 

Weak/Stretched Muscles

  1. Posterior Shoulder
  2. Upper Back

As your shoulders rotate inwards, your posterior shoulders lengthen and weaken. Just like in the rounded spine posture, your upper back also gets pulled forward and these muscles are lengthened.

 

Tight/Overactive Muscles

  1. Anterior Shoulders
  2. Chest

Conversely, the chest and anterior shoulders are overly activated and tight in the internally rotated posture.

This leads to a lot of anterior shoulder pain and tendon strains. This is one reason why the rotator cuff is quick to get injured.

 

Bad Posture Exercises That You Should Avoid If You Have Internally Rotated Shoulders

A lot of the same muscular faults present in kyphosis are also present in internally rotated shoulders.

You should avoid doing too many chest dominant pressing exercises

These include

  • Bench Press
  • Push-ups
  • Dumbbell flys

And exercises that cause internal rotation of the shoulder

These include

  • Pull-ups
  • Chin-ups
  • Lat Pulldowns

 

The Best Posture Correction Exercises For  Rounded Shoulders

-Doorway Stretch with External Rotation

 

This stretch is extremely effective in restoring natural motion to your chest and shoulder joint. You can do it in a doorway (to do both arms simultaneously) like we show in 9 Incredible Stretches To Improve Flexibility Fast or on a corner wall.

Focus on externally rotating your shoulders and hold this stretch for at least 20 seconds.

 

-Rear Delt Flys

 

It is embarrassing how weak and underused the posterior muscles are in the general population.

When performing this exercise, it is important to check your ego. 5-10 lbs will be more than sufficient in activating your posterior shoulders. Do 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps.

 

-All Horizontal Pulling Exercises

Horizontal pulling exercises help to reset your natural shoulder position and offset the muscular imbalances that exist between the front and the back of your torso.

Be sure to keep your shoulders back and externally rotated when performing them.

We discuss the horizontal pull and the 5 other functional movement patterns here.

Good Posture Tips to Reset Rounded Internally Rotated Shoulders (At Work or Home)

  • Shrug and roll your shoulders back to reset them to their natural position
  • Externally rotate your arms by facing your palms forwards and retracting your scapula

 

Use this sequence to reset your shoulders back into the correct position whenever you notice that you are not in an optimal position.

 

 

How to Improve Bad Posture#4: Anterior Pelvic Tilt (Lordosis)

Weak/Stretched Muscles

1. Glutes

Excessive lordosis will cause your butt to stick out which is considered attractive by some, but actually very detrimental to your spinal health. Your glutes need to be strong and be able to FULLY extend your hips to keep your spine neutral.

 

2. Hamstrings

If your pelvis is tilted forward, the muscles that attach to the back of your hips are stretched and elongated. These are the hamstring muscles. Stop stretching your hamstrings if you exhibit an anterior pelvic tilt.

 

3. Abs

Your six pack muscles attach to your pelvis on the front side. With a forward tilt, the abs are lengthened, weakened, and bellow out.

This is the semi-pregnant look that some people exhibit if they let their stomach muscles relax. Almost everyone can benefit from having a stronger midsection.

 

Tight/Overactive Muscles

1. Low Back

Your lumbar spine will take the majority of the burn in a lordotic posture. The muscles of the low back are in constant tension and are easily strained, leading to spinal misalignments and low back pain.

2. Hip Flexors

The hip flexors which sit on your anterior thigh are the major contributors to shifting your pelvis anteriorly. Prolonged sitting is a big culprit in making these muscle tight and overactive which tugs on the pelvis.

 

Bad Posture Exercises That You Should Avoid If You Have Anterior Tilt

Anterior pelvic tilt is a really common postural fault.

Your glutes and hamstrings are weak and elongated, while hip flexors and low back are tight and stiff.

You need to avoid exercises that extend the low back, such as

  • Supermans
  • Back hyper-extensions

You need to avoid exercises and activities that tighten the hip flexors, further such as

  • Sit-ups
  • Crunches
  • Sitting for prolonged periods of time

And you need to avoid exercises that lengthen or stretch the hamstrings, such as

  • Sit and reach hamstring stretch
  • Touch your toes hamstring stretch

The Best Posture Correction Exercises For Anterior Pelvic Tilt

-Hip Stretch

 

When performing this stretch ensure that your hip is perfectly in line with your spine, and activate your glute muscles. Only then should you lean forward. Hold this stretch for 20-30 seconds, and do it every single day.

 

-Glute Bridge

 

This basic exercise teaches the importance of activating and strengthening the abs and the glutes while providing a gentle stretch to the hip flexors.

Perform this exercise for sets of 10 reps with a 1-second hold at the top.

To increase the activation of the glute muscles, place an elastic band around your knees. Our favorite is the Hip circle from Amazon.

 

-Planks

 

If done correctly this exercise will activate the glutes and abs in a manner that helps place the spine in a neutral position.

Perform this exercise for sets of 30 seconds, and make sure that your low back is not arched!

In fact, you should posteriorly tilt your pelvis like we describe in our core exercise post.

 

-Hip Extension Exercises

 

Hip extension exercises activate the glute muscles while providing a gentle stretch to the anterior hip flexors.

When doing these exercises, it is important to stop your low back at the neutral position, and not let it arch!

Refer to our post, The Only Exercises You Need To Build Muscle and Get In Shape  to find the best movements that train hip extension.

 

Good Posture Tips to Reset an Anterior Pelvic Tilt (At Work or At Home)

  • Squeeze your glutes often when standing
  • Tighten and brace your core often throughout the day

Use this sequence to reset your lumbar spine back into the correct position whenever you notice that you are not in an optimal position.


Additional Resource For More Posture Corrective Exercises

Of all of the books that I have read on posture correction, Kelly Starrett’s Deskbound is by far the best.

It is extremely comprehensive, actionable, and it includes hundreds of different exercises for every single body part.

In addition, it provides a simple routine anyone can do in just 15-20 minutes a day.

I refer back to this book at least once every 2 months to find cool new ways to maintain a healthy body.

 

Final Words On Posture Correction

This is not a slow process. It requires complete awareness of healthy positions your body should be in, and suboptimal positions that you should avoid.

Identify which postural inefficiencies you have and fix them.

Use these exercises and stretches every day for 10 minutes a day 3-7 days a week.

Some of these could even be done while you are out and about doing your daily activities.

Use the postural awareness cues as often as you can remember to reset your body positions.

Once you realize the importance of posture, you will begin to treat your body like the sanctuary that it is. You will move and feel better.

In addition, balanced training can help restore natural posture as functional exercises mimic ideal human positioning.

This is why we created The WCT Stength Program.

It is a ready-made workout template that includes all of the functional exercises to improve your health, fitness, and posture!

 

The next step is to learn:

Now we turn it over to you.

Which of these bad postures do you normally see on a daily basis?

Do you try and improve your body position throughout the day?

Which of these stretches/exercise do you already incorporate into your training?

Comment below and let us know!

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Alex Robles, MD / Brittany Robles, MD, MPH

Alex Robles, MD / Brittany Robles, MD, MPH

Alex & Brittany Robles are physicians, health & fitness experts, and founders of The White Coat Trainer, a site dedicated to improving the health and fitness of busy individuals. Their advice has been featured on KevinMD, The Doctor Weighs In, My Fitness Pal, Reader's Digest, Livestrong, and The Active Times. Learn more about them here.

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4 thoughts on “The Best Posture Correction Exercises [13 Proven Methods]”

  1. Hey, i liked the content it pretty interessting , specially thestretche that are helping alot i’ve experienced that issue and fixing posture is one of the huge challenges that I faced in the gym,I’m doing gym for almost 3 years, I had some gains in the first year by working hard and eating healthy but they weren’t that obvious, I started to believe that my hormones and metabolism are shitty and i wanted to give up since I’m putting a lot of work but getting low results. then something happened I emailed a physiotherapist coach his famous he has a youtube channel named Athlen-x ( i’m not promoting he’s channel tho he has already 5 Million subscribers xD xD ) so he pointed me to the right direction, I could spot the main problem (Posture) so I started looking for ways to do it I ended up buying a programme that worked well for me and the next 2 years i literarly gained 17 pounds,and I want to advise you to do the same cause seriously you need a professional knowledge of that issue and CONSISTENCYhere is a programme that you may be interested in it will help i viewed its content and yeap it target the main sources of the problems too https://bit.ly/2jxOJqZ its legit and wish you all the best, Keep up if you truly put work and the right knowledge you will do it, just don’t give up on your self.

  2. I really appreciated this article! I am an ultrasound technologist and I constantly come home with shoulder & back pain from scanning my patients. These easy exercises have already made my trapezius & shoulder muscles feel great and now I am aware of some of my postural habits! Thank you again!

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