If you spend long periods of time sitting, either at your desk or during your commute, you may experience weakness in the hips and core, and tightness in the hip flexors. This can create a posture issue called anterior pelvic tilt, in which the hip bones are tilted forward and sometimes causes back pain. Seated positions and working on computers can also cause the upper back to get weaker and shoulders to round forward, which can make it challenging to perform some pressing movements and to reach overhead.
Stretches can be helpful, but exercises that strengthen the muscles weakened by chronic sitting will do more to create a lasting improvement in your posture. Try performing the following isometric exercises, which can help you strengthen the muscles of the backside and core so that your posture improves at both the hips and shoulders. You can incorporate these exercises all together into a warm-up before your regular workout or one at a time as an active recovery between other exercises. Alternatively, you can perform them throughout the day. By practicing the exercises and getting up to move more often, you can make substantial improvements in your posture and strengthen the muscles that help maintain it.
Isometric Hamstring Curl to a Box
Lie on the floor, face up, with your heels on a box or bench that allows you to keep the knees and hips at a 90 degrees with your toes pointing up. From this position, curl the pelvis under so that the tailbone is lifted off the floor, leaving the lumbar spine flat on the floor. You should feel tension in the back of the thighs. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
Isometric Glute Bridge With Adduction
Lie on the floor, face up, with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent at approximately 90 degrees. Place a yoga block between the thighs, just above the knees. Tilt the pelvis under slightly and squeeze the block with the thighs. Lift the hips by clenching the buttocks and pressing the heels into the floor. Hold this position, making a flat line from the knees to the shoulders, for 30 to 60 seconds.
Supine Knee Tuck
Lie on the floor, face up, with your hands stretched out overhead in a Y position. Lift your feet off the floor and pull your knees toward your chest so that your tailbone is slightly lifted off the floor and your low back is pressed against the floor. Hold this position and breathe without letting the tailbone back down to the floor. Instead of focusing on the glutes or hamstrings, the knee tuck will challenge your abdominal muscles. Start with sets of 30 seconds and work your way up to 60 seconds per set.
Half-kneeling Pallof Press
Set up in a half-kneeling position with one knee down on the floor and the other foot forward and flat on the floor. Each knee should be positioned at 90 degrees and the toes of the rear foot should be planted on the floor. Attach a light band or use a cable pulley at shoulder height anchored to the side. Starting from the chest, press the band or cable attachment forward, exhale, and hold without letting the band rotate or bend your torso to the side. Repeat this motion with an exhalation and isometric hold for 10-15 repetitions per side.
Stand with your back against a wall and your feet out in front so that your lower back stays flat to the wall. Place the backs of your hands high and wide against the wall to form a “Y” and press backward into the wall from the shoulders for 10-30 seconds. Bring your hands out from the shoulders to form a “T” position and press backward into the wall for 10-30 seconds. Next, bring the hands in so that your thumbs are around ear height to make a “W” shape and press backward into the wall for 10-30 seconds. Finally, slide the hands down outside the hips with the thumbs pointed out to make the “I” and press backward into the wall for 10-30 seconds. Repeat the series of movements one to three times and increase the amount of time spent on each position as your endurance improves.
Interested in expanding your knowledge in the world of health and fitness? Check out our Personal Trainer Certification!