Reduced mobility, chronic pain, poor self-esteem, and remote work are some reasons you might wish to seek the perfect alignment. Finding stretches to improve posture is one of the most affordable ways to achieve better alignment, mobility, self-esteem, and a happier remote life.
Sitting for long periods or slouching over a remote desk at home isn’t good for your posture. Fortunately, techniques to improve your posture with stretches at home costs you nothing. It also brings many benefits, including a happier life, improved health, and better aging.
Stretching to Improve Your Posture
Harvard Medical School says it’s never too late to save your posture with stretches (16). However, the improvement won’t be as significant from posture stretches if you’ve got a spinal cord injury. Please speak to your physician before doing any stretches.
Safety Tips Before Stretching to Improve Your Posture
Cary Orthopedics warns of muscle injuries with common stretching mistakes you should avoid (1). Bouncing, not warming up, and overstretching muscles can lead to injuries and pain. Instead, the Mayo Clinic suggests six safety tips for safe stretching (38):
- Stick to three to four times weekly to ensure success in stretching and flexibility,
- Stretch as many of your major muscle groups as possible, including your chest, abdominal muscles, back, legs (calves, quadriceps, hamstrings), hips, and shoulders,
- Use symmetry to practice stretching for posture and flexibility safely,
- Use smooth and gentle movements in your stretches, like in yoga and tai-chi,
- Never attempt your pain level; muscle tension is normal, but you shouldn’t feel pain.
- Don’t stretch to warm up your muscles because cold muscles can be more prone to injuries. Instead, warm up before your stretch.
Exercises and Stretches to Improve Posture
You’ll work from your lower body to your shoulders to give you a full-body stretch for every muscle from your toes to your head. Various stretches work for multiple muscles but focus on major muscles in each section for optimal alignment from top to bottom.
Please note you’ll find tutorials for some stretches to help you practice them safely.
Top 5 Best Stretches to Improve Posture in Your Lower Body
Muscles of the lower extremities include the glutes, hip flexors, hamstrings, calves, and quadriceps (23). You won’t work each muscle with every stretch. Some stretches will work muscles in other groups of your body. However, these stretches work for the lower body.
Registered yoga teacher Anne Pizer suggests using the pyramid pose to target your hamstrings (12). The pyramid stretches your spine and shoulders to improve your full-body posture. However, don’t grasp your shins and avoid a narrow stance.
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
Sōl Physical Therapy recommends the kneeling hip flexor stretch to target the lower body and back for improved posture (17). It targets your hip flexor muscles to improve flexibility and relieve tension in the lower body. Meanwhile, it works well if you sit a lot or suffer from back pain.
Standing Forward Bend
Dr. Andrew Weil suggests using the standing forward bend pose to stretch your glutes, calves, hamstrings, and hip muscles (35). It may also help stimulate core organs and muscles to improve more than your lower body posture. As a beginner, you don’t have to touch the floor.
Boston University recommends the downward-facing dog pose to help improve posture and stretch lower body muscles (34). It helps lengthen the calves, hamstrings, upper body, and spine. A partial inversion pose gently shifts the typical pressure from r your spinal vertebrae and helps elongate the spine for the ideal alignment.
Dr. Dany Baby suggests using the standing cat-cow pose to improve posture and stretch muscles (19). It works your hip flexors, diaphragm, core, and upper body to achieve improved posture throughout your body. However, loosen your wrists before starting.
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Top 5 Best Stretches to Improve Posture In Your Core
Your core resides in the trunk, including the abdominal and pelvic muscles (24). Core stretches will target the muscles for an improved posture within this region. However, they may also target muscles outside the core area.
The Cleveland Clinic explains why you should start doing planks to help improve posture and stretch your muscles (29). Strengthening your core muscles can help to maintain good posture. The plank exercise strengthens your core, which can protect the spine and improve your lower back position.
The Bird-Dog Exercise
The Rush Chiropractic Center recommends using the bird-dog exercise to achieve better posture through stretching (13). It targets the lower back, spine, and core activation to improve your posture and spinal stability. However, don’t push it if your pelvis or torso hurts.
WebMD suggests the pigeon pose targets muscles in the back, groin, thighs, hips, and core (36). It also targets the psoas muscle, which plays a key role in core stability, flexibility, and posture. Meanwhile, it also targets the piriformis muscle that joins your spine and buttocks.
Active Child’s Pose
WebMD suggests an active child’s pose to improve posture and stretch the right muscles (6). The pose stretches your oblique muscles along your sides. Meanwhile, it also incorporates your glutes, hamstrings, shoulders, and back muscles.
Dead Bug Exercise
The Yorkville Sports Medicine Clinic recommends the dead bug exercise for improved posture (40). It’s a physical therapy movement to target the core muscles. It targets the oblique muscles around your core, the pelvic muscles, and the spine.
Read more: 10 Glute Stretches for Instant Relief
Top 5 Best Stretches to Improve Back Posture
Lower back muscles, diaphragmatic muscles, and the thorax are also part of the trunk muscles required to stretch for an improved back posture (24). Indeed, the core and back muscles can work similarly to improve your overall posture in your trunk.
Traditional Cat-Cow Pose
Spinal Care Clinics recommend the traditional cat-cow pose for improved back posture (22). It’s excellent for back pain and strengthens and stretches muscles around your spine to improve posture. It also targets the neck and core muscles.
The Cleveland Clinic also suggests variations of planks, including a modified or high plank (29). Modified planks also target numerous muscle groups, like the abdominal muscles, obliques, and lower back muscles. It’s a core workout that helps strengthen other muscle groups.
Better Me Health Coaching suggests using the side plank to work muscles in your back for improved posture (32). It strengthens and stretches the quadratus lumborum muscle along your spine. In addition, it works muscles in your core, lower body, and upper body.
Harvard Medical School emphasizes how stretching and strengthening muscles are vital to overall wellness (37). Stretching your spine can help improve posture while decreasing your back pains. Reinforcing the spine also prevents future posture problems.
Dr. Adam Behm suggests using thoracic spine mobility stretches to improve spinal curvature (43). The thoracic spine is responsible for flexibility, rotation, and extension, and the lower spine is responsible for stability. Correcting the spine creates a better posture.
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Top 5 Best Stretches to Improve Posture and Flexibility In Your Shoulders
Upper extremity muscles include the biceps, triceps, deltoid, and brachioradialis (25). You’ll work on these muscle groups to regain the correct posture in your upper body. Some stretches might work on your core or back. However, these stretches mainly target your shoulders.
Pec Minor Stretch
Our experts at Better Me suggest chest stretch exercises to improve posture, flexibility, and range of motion (10). A pec minor stretch like the tutorial will help you improve your posture. However, it also releases tension in your upper back to help you enhance back posture.
Fascia Release Exercise
Dr. Dan Brennan from WebMD confirms how myofascial release can helps improve your upper body posture (26). Myofascial tissue connects every joint, bone, and muscle. Only experts perform myofascial therapy, but you can enjoy a simple fascia release exercise at home.
Half Cobra Pose
WebMD suggests variations of the cobra pose to help improve upper body posture (39). One popular variation is the half cobra pose, which works similar muscles in your body. However, it also works the neck, shoulder, and upper body muscles to improve your posture.
Forward-Head Correction Exercises
The forward-head posture is typical in people who sit too much for remote work. Meanwhile, your chin leans forward, which you can correct with chiropractic exercises. Dr. David Oliver, a chiropractor, recommends three practices to improve a forward-head posture (14).
Read more: 8 Upper Back Stretches for Mild Back Pain
Does Stretching Improve Posture?
Yes, Harvard Medical School confirms strengthening the back, chest, and core muscles with stretches will save your posture (16). You can improve your posture through stretching, even if you’ve had poor posture for years. Stretching is a crucial component of fixing it.
How Does Stretching Improve Posture?
Improving muscle strength can help improves your posture. Harvard Medical School explains how stretching is essential to maintain muscle flexibility and joint mobility (42). Coastal Orthopedics shares how tight or weak muscles lead to bad posture and vice versa (44).
Will I Discover How to Improve Posture With Stretches as a Beginner?
You can improve your posture with stretches, even if you’ve never stretched. Injuring yourself on the first stretch will discourage you from continuing or hurting yourself. However, please listen to Cary Orthopedics about which mistakes to avoid while stretching (1).
Can I Discover How to Improve My Seated Posture?
The New York Times recommends easy stretches to improve seated posture (8). Simple stretches can relieve tension in your neck, shoulder, back, and lower back muscles to improve your posture. Let’s see how to do three stretches for each central area.
Seated Stretch for Neck and Shoulder Posture
Follow the steps to do the seated stretch for good shoulder and neck posture (8):
- Move to the chair’s edge while interlacing your fingers behind your back,
- Touch your palms together while you keep your fingers interlaced,
- Gently roll your shoulders upward and backward while puffing your chest out,
- Slowly raise your interlaced hands and hold the posture for 30 seconds.
Seated Stretch for Back Posture
Follow the instructions to do the seated stretch for better back posture (8):
- Sit on the chair’s edge with flat feet on the floor,
- Lay your palms restfully on your knees,
- Gently inhale as you push your chest forward,
- Exhale as you retract your chest backward to curve your spine both ways,
- Repeat this seated cat-cow exercise five times.
Seated Stretch for Lower Back Posture
Follow the steps to do a seated stretch for good lower back posture (8):
- Move your chair back to stand with your palms against your desk,
- Slowly move back until you’re extending your arms, and your body forms an L shape,
- Push your hands against the table and stretch your spine straight,
- Push your hips backward and upward before holding for ten breaths.
The Bottom Line
The best stretches to improve back, upper body, lower body, and core posture will set you on the right track. When your flexibility improves, and your muscles start remembering how to maintain a specific posture. Go from the lower to the upper body for an overall good posture.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 7 Stretching Mistakes and How to Avoid Them (2019, caryortho.com)
- Ardha Bhujangasana (Half Cobra Pose) (2021, youtube.com)
- Bird-Dog – Low Back Strengthening Exercise (2018, youtube.com)
- Cat And Cow Stretch – Best Stretch For Your Back Pain (2018, youtube.com)
- Child’s Pose – active sequence (2017, youtube.com)
- Child’s Pose: Benefits and Instructions (2022, webmd.com)
- Downward Dog – Downward Facing Dog Yoga Pose (2013, youtube)
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- Full Chest Stretch Checklist: 3 Reasons, 7 Benefits, 11 Exercises (2022, betterme.world)
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- How to Do Pyramid Pose (Parsvottonasana) (2020, verywellfit.com)
- How To Do The Bird Dog Exercise – Rush Chiropractic Center (2019, nashvillechiropractor.com)
- How To Fix Forward Head Posture – 3 Easy Exercises (From a Chiropractor) (2018, youtube.com)
- How to Plank Properly for Beginners (2021, youtube.com)
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- Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch | SOL Physical Therapy (n.d., solpt.com)
- Kneeling hip flexor stretch – YouTube (2018, youtube.com)
- Learn How to Do the Cat-Cow Stretch to Help Your Back, Neck, and Torso (2022, medicinenet.com)
- MB2: How To Release the Thoracic Spine (2018, youtube.com)
- Mobility at Home: Standing Cat-Cow Stretch (2021, youtube.com)
- Move of the Month: Cat-cow Pose for Back Pain – Spinal Care Clinics (2019, spinalcareclinics.co.uk)
- Muscles of the Lower Extremity | SEER Training (n.d., cancer.gov)
- Muscles of the Trunk | SEER Training (n.d., cancer.gov)
- Muscles of the Upper Extremity | SEER Training (n.d., cancer.gov)
- Myofascial Release Therapy: How Does it Improve Your Health? (2021, webmd.com)
- Pec Minor Stretch (Release Tight Chest) (2021, youtube.com)
- Pigeon Pose | Full Anatomical Analysis + Mistakes to Avoid (2022, youtube.com)
- Plank Exercises: What They Do For Your Body (2021, health.clevelandclinic.org)
- Physical Therapy – Dead Bug Exercise (2011, youtube.com)
- Shoulder Rolls (2015, youtube.com)
- Side Plank Muscles Worked: Is This Exercise Worth It? (2022, betterme.world)
- Side Planks – Ask Doctor Jo (2017, youtube.com)
- Six Reasons to Practice Downward Dog | Employee Wellness (2020, be.edu)
- Standing Forward Bend Pose – Yoga With Dr. Weil (2013, drweil.com)
- Step-by-Step Instructions For Doing a Pigeon Yoga Pose (2022, webmd.com)
- Stretching and strengthening are key to healing and preventing back pain (2014, health.harvard.edu)
- Stretching: Focus on flexibility (2022, mayoclinic.org)
- The Benefits of Cobra Pose and How to Perform It (2022, webmd.com)
- The Dead Bug Exercise And How You Can Do It Perfectly | Physiotherapists in Toronto | Yorkville Sports Medicine Clinic (2022, yorkvillesportsmed.com)
- The High Plank | Plank Progressions (2021, youtube.com)
- The importance of Stretching (2022, health.harvard.edu)
- The Importance of Thoracic Spine Mobility (behmmjc.com) (2018, behmmjc.com)
- The Role of Posture and Health: Good vs. Bad (2017, coastalorthoteam.com)
- Top 10 shoulder stretches for pain and tightness (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Unlock Your Entire Back FAST! Full Spine Stretching Routine (2022, youtube.com)
- Uttanasana – How to do a Standing Forward Bend, for Beginners (2021, youtube.com)