March 24, 2010
For many of us, we spend a great deal of our day in a seated position, whether at our desks at work or in our cars commuting from one place to another. Through the repetitive motions we complete and the misaligned positions we unknowingly put ourselves in while seated, our posture may become altered and as a result it can lead to a variety of muscle imbalances and general instability within the body.
Exercises for enhancing stability
To improve posture and enhance stability, we must activate and strengthen weak and neglected muscle. Below are examples of several foundational exercises you may wish to incorporate into your current workout routine-
- Bird-dog- This exercise trains the body how to stabilize the lumbar spine (low back) during upper and lower extremity movement.
- Side Plank- The lateral muscles of the torso (abdominal obliques and quadratus lumborum) targeted during this exercise are important for stabilizing the spine when upright and rotating, and also help in maintaining ideal posture.
- Front Plank- This exercise improves abdominal and low-back endurance and coordination, and leads to more stability and efficiency during dynamic movements.
- Glute Bridge- Glute exercises such as this play an important role in core stability. As the glutes become stronger, the hips and pelvis become more stable. Increased stability in the pelvis can ultimately help to decrease the risk of lower back pain and also aid in the maintenance of proper posture.
Tips for improving posture
Developing an increased sense of awareness about your posture is essential to restoring proper alignment. Simply be mindful of your posture throughout the day (such as acknowledging when you are slouching), and consciously correct your alignment as needed. While standing, your ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle should align forming one straight line with the spine in an ‘S’ shape, due to the natural curvature of the spine. This also applies while in a seated position, except that the ear, shoulder and hip should align, while the knee and ankle align.
While at work, be sure to frequently adjust your position while sitting for long periods of time to help prevent slouching and other poor postures. Taking a few minutes periodically to get up from your desk and walk around is also helpful. Creating an ergonomically-friendly workspace is another important factor in restoring good posture.
Jessica Matthews, MS, E-RYTContributor
Jessica Matthews, M.S., E-RYT is assistant professor of exercise science at Miramar College. As a leading fitness expert, writer and educator Jessica is a regular contributor to numerous publications, including Shape and Oprah.com. She holds a B.S. in physical education teacher education from Coastal Carolina University and M.S. in physical education from Canisius College. She is a certified Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor and Health Coach through the American Council on Exercise (ACE) as well as an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT) through Yoga Alliance and trained stand-up paddleboard (SUP) yoga instructor. Prior to teaching at Miramar, Jessica worked full-time ACE, serving in a number of key roles including exercise physiologist, certification director and senior health and fitness editor. Her past work also includes serving as aquatics director at Conway Medical Wellness and Fitness Center and designing health and physical education curriculum for grades K-12. Full Bio Jessica Matthews »