Bad Posture Got You Down? Try These Two Simple Stretches
If you're someone who struggles with tightness in your upper back and poor posture, you know how uncomfortable it can be. Your shoulders roll forward, your head juts out, and your back just feels stiff. As a personal trainer, I see this issue all the time with my clients. Many of them think they just need to stretch their back muscles more. But often, tightness in the upper back is caused by overstretched muscles in the front of the body.
That's why I love these two simple stretches. They not only loosen up the back, they also strengthen the front of the body to bring your posture back into alignment. As I explain to my clients, "A tight upper back doesn't necessarily mean that your muscles are short. If you have bad posture, what that means is all the muscles on the backside of your body are stuck in a long position."
The first stretch is a seated rotation using a chair. You'll bring your legs up against the chair to stabilize your lower body. Then reach one arm across your body, grab the outside of your leg or the chair, and rotate your upper back away from that arm. The key is keeping your lower body still and initiating the movement from your upper back. As you exhale, relax deeper into the stretch. Do 2-3 repetitions on each side.
The second stretch uses the back of a chair or countertop to open up the chest and shoulders. Place your hands on the surface with thumbs pointed up and step back to hinge at the hips. This allows you to feel a stretch in the muscles under your armpits and across your chest. Again, exhale and relax into the stretch as you imagine your chest being gently pulled toward the ground.
When performed regularly, these two stretches make a dramatic difference in posture by loosening tight spots and activating weak areas. As I tell my clients, “What it should feel like is your chest is looser, the muscles around your ribs and underneath your armpit should feel looser. Your upper back should feel good, and your posture should naturally feel like it’s opening up.”
If you currently deal with poor posture and a tight upper back, I encourage you to give these stretches a try. Do them daily for at least two weeks and I’m confident you’ll start standing a little taller. Your body will thank you!