Maintaining proper posture during daily activities is very important for reducing muscle fatigue, increasing energy and preventing back pain. Having strong postural muscles to support your spine can reduce the strain on your back from long durations of sitting at a desk.
Try the following 5 exercises to strengthen the middle and lower back muscles as well as neck and arms.
T and Y arm raises on Exercise Ball
Lay on your stomach over a large exercise ball. Your head and neck are off the ball in a neutral position. Toes should be touching the floor. For Y position, arms are overhead with thumbs up, like superman. For T position, arms are out to side like wings of an airplane. Hold a weight in each hand. Raise arms to the horizontal. Keep your spine level. Do 3 sets 10 repetitions of each T and Y position. Use 0-5 pounds in each hand.
Standing Upright Rows
Stand in squat position facing cable column pulley system. Hold one pulley in each hand with palms facing each other. Pulleys should be adjusted to chest level. Contract abdominal muscles and squeeze shoulder blades together as you draw the pulleys toward you. Try 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
Lie on your stomach and turn your toes under. Bend your elbows and support body weight on feet and forearms. Raise the middle section of your body to a level plank position. Your belly should be off the floor and not sagging so your spine stays straight. Your bottom should not be higher than your head. Hold this position as long as possible while maintaining proper form, up to a minute. Don’t forget to breathe! An alternative position is to extend elbows and weight-bear through your hands. Do 2-3 sets.
Lat Pull Machine
Adjust bench so that your feet are touching the floor and knees are under the pad and lean back slightly. Draw belly button in towards spine to tighten abdominal muscles. Pull lat bar toward your upper chest. Repeat 3 sets of 10 reps.
Overhead Medicine Ball Raise
Lay on floor on your back with knees bent. Keep abdominal muscles contracted as your raise an 8-10 pound medicine ball or dumbbell over head with straight elbows. Keep belly button pulled in tightly so your spine doesn’t lift off floor. Try 3 sets of 10.
Tip: If your muscles fatigue and you can’t maintain proper positioning do not continue that exercise. For postural exercises, quality is always better than quantity.
Julie Mulcahy M.P.T is a licensed Physical Therapist with over 19 years experience in sports medicine and orthopedics. Julie is also busy mom of 4 children and a marathon runner. She may be reached by email firstname.lastname@example.org or @PTrunningmomof4 on Twitter.