Your posture is a foundation building block of good health. Yet, for many of us as we age, decades of poor posture habits have caught up with us. What can we do to correct this situation? What are some best posture exercises that, as seniors, we can engage in to combat these challenges and keep our bodies lastingly strong, fit and supple regardless of our age?
The Importance Of Posture
Take any building frame… it’s the skeletal structure and vertical alignment that gives it strength, stamina, and balance. The same goes for our bodies. The human body is designed to stand upright and in balance. If we don’t, everything begins to crumble and give way.
While it’s true that we may have an “older” building than we once had, know that it is NEVER too late to improve our posture! Studies reveal that even people in their 80s and 90s can improve, resulting in more mobility, independence, and a better quality of life.
Posture plays a significant role in our health and well-being. The body is very agile and adaptable, and can move in a multitude of directions, but it needs to start and return to a balanced state for it to work at its best. The body needs to be balanced not only from front to back, but also from right to left.
Even if your posture has been a problem for years, it’s possible to make improvements. Rounded shoulders and a hunched stance may seem like a curse, but there’s a good chance you can still counteract these forces of gravity and begin to stand more erect.
Your ears, shoulders, hip bones, knees, and ankles all need to be closely aligned vertically to have correct posture. Yet, it’s easy to compromise this natural alignment. A sore knee, pinched nerve in the neck, back pain, or recovery from a fall can cause any of us to favor one side over the other which tends to throw off our balance.
But your body was meant to move. Even if the body is out of alignment, your body will adapt using whichever muscles it must to move. Often, regaining correct posture can be a matter of altering your activities, readjusting your alignment and strengthening your muscles.
Benefits of Good Posture
Benefits of good posture includes:
- Reduced pain
- A smoother and more balanced gait
- Less wear and tear on your joints
- Increased movement efficiency
- Greater self-awareness and self-confidence
- Easier movement patterns and increased range of motion
- Improved overall body strength
- Reduced muscle tension and stress
What’s YOUR Why?
What is your pain preventing you from doing? What part of life are you not engaging in that you wish to? What is it that once used to bring you happiness and joy that you can no longer participate in?
Gardening? Traveling? Golfing? Hiking?
How about interacting with your grandchildren? Ever find yourself wishing you could get down on the ground with them and wrestling around? Play catch? Toss a football? Go on a hike?
How about climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro or hiking the Grand Canyon?
What is your why? Why do you want your health back? What is YOUR driving force? The potential of returning to the life that you once enjoyed will become the driving force that will help your persevere through the ups and downs, the struggles and challenges, and the seeming roadblocks and obstacles that will be scattered along your road to wellness.
Your aspirations will propel your actions. Focusing on what you want out of life is the first positive step towards empowering your body to help you get there.
The most important thing to remember is that your body did not get to a state of misalignment and poor posture overnight. It took years of repetitive dysfunction and imbalance. Now is the time to unlearn those repetitive functions and relearn functional, balanced movement patterns.
The Best Posture Exercises For Seniors
Lasting relief comes from participating in a consistent positive action and adapting to that action through repetition. Getting out for walks, swimming, riding a bicycle, hiking in the woods…these are examples of activities that will keep you aerobically moving.
Yet, good posture requires more.
The following exercises, when combined with some aerobic movements mentioned above, will create a foundation to build upon. As you begin your journey to better health and posture, ALWAYS be aware of your posture whenever you cross your legs, sit at a table or desk, walk, or stand from a sitting position.
Change your activities as well as your body position frequently when in a prolonged position. Traveling in a car for long distances is a good example. When you feel your body tiring and achy, stop, take a break, and do some simple stretching. Take a short walk, perform a few arm and/or leg stretches, and give your body a break.
It will make all the difference in the world.
The following exercises, when repeated with consistency and regularity, will make a difference in your posture:
- Lie on back on floor and place both legs on a chair seat at 90° angle at hips and knees.
- Rest arms out to your side at a 45° angle with palms up.
- Let your lower back settle into the floor while performing belly breathing.
- Using your breath to relax, continue for 3-5 minutes or until lower back settles into floor.
- Next: Lower one leg and extend out straight hip distance apart with foot pointing up. Relax and hold for 3-5 minutes or until lower back settles into floor. Change legs and repeat on other side.
Frog Spread with Overhead Arm Stretch
- While lying on your back, bend your knees and place the bottom of your feet together pressing your big toes and heels together. Gently let your knees spread apart.
- Hold this position for 2 minutes while keeping your arms down by your side at 45° with palms facing upwards.
- After 2 minutes clasp your fingers and raise your arms directly above your shoulders, making sure to keep your arms straight.
- Lower your outstretched arms down to the floor above your head. Hold for a moment and repeat this move 20 times.
- Lie on your back, bend your knees, and bring your heels up towards your rear, keeping both knees and feet hip distance apart.
- With arms down by your side at 45° with palms down, push through your feet as you raise your hips up towards the ceiling, squeezing your buttocks together at the same time. Your ankles, knees and hips should be in the same plane.
- In a very fluid manner, lower your hips back down, touch the floor, and raise your hips back up. Do this 10-15 times.
- Lie on your belly with legs straight out with feet slightly pigeon-toed towards each other.
- Come up on your forearms with your elbows located directly below your shoulders. Do not let your shoulders rise up to become “earrings.”
- Look down toward your hands and simple let your lower back and hips relax into the mat. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing.
- Hold for 2 minutes.
- Get on your hands and knees in table-top position (hands directly underneath your shoulders and knees below the hips).
- Keeping your arms outstretched, push your rear back towards your heels, bring your head down towards the mat (rest your forehead on the mat if you can) and close your eyes and breathe into the stretch.
- Hold for 2 minutes.
- Get down on your hands and knees in table-top position with your hands directly underneath your shoulders and knees directly under your hips.
- Bring your chin into your chest as you round-out your back up towards the ceiling creating a curve that runs from your rear to your neck (the “cat”).
- Drop your spine to a concave position (the “cow”) as you lift your head and look forwards at the wall in front of you.
Make the two moves flow continuously and smoothly back and forth.
- Do 2 sets of 10.
- Step back from a chair back, counter top, or railing and place both hands (palms down) on top with arms kept straight.
- With legs straight, make sure your hips are located directly over your knees and ankles.
- Pull your head down between your outstretched arms down towards your feet. Let your lower back and belly sag while you push your rear out and tilt your pelvis forward.
- Hold this position for one minute making sure to relax and breath deeply. Repeat 3 times.
- Standing, spread your legs out to the sides as far as comfortably possible.
- Keeping your back, head and neck aligned, hinge at the hips and run your hands down your thighs towards your feet.
Hold for 30 seconds.
- From this position, place your hands on the floor and spread your legs even further. Hold this stretch for another 30-60 seconds
- Be sure to close your eyes and breathe into the stretch.
- Optional: Carefully bring your feet back to 1.5 to 2 shoulder lengths apart and then proceed to lean to one side and then the other, bending at the knee of one leg and straightening out the other. Lean to the other side repeating the move. Move back and forth 5 times each.
- Stand with your feet out wide (3 to 4 feet) and your toes pointing out.
- Keeping weight in your back heels, lower your hips and bend your knees into a wide squat. Go down until your thighs are parallel to the floor or as low as is comfortable for you.
- Stand back up, squeezing your butt muscles at the top of the movement.
- Complete 10-20 reps.
- Stand with your feet about hip-width apart.
- Interlace your fingers behind your middle back as you straighten out your arms.
- Keep your head up, shoulders back, chest out and head level as you raise your straightened arms behind you.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds before releasing.
- Repeat 3 times.
- Bend your arms and raise your hands to each side of your head with palms facing outwards.
- Make a fist with your thumbs pointing downwards. Pivot your knuckles on your temples and draw both elbows together in front of you.
- Keeping your hands in place, draw your elbows back to each side.
- Repeat 15 times.
- Stand with feet parallel and slightly apart.
- Hinge at your hips and fold forward letting gravity slowly pull your outstretched hands and head towards the floor. Do your best to keep your legs straight.
- Don’t worry if your hands don’t touch the ground — you can use a block or just go as far as you are able.
- Tuck your chin into your chest and allow gravity to pull your head towards the floor.
- Remain in this pose for 1 minute.
With persistence and dedication you can realign your body posture. The benefits that this can bring is reduced pain, improved movement efficiency, and greater functional fitness that will allow you to participate in more of the activities of life you once enjoyed. Don’t let your body hold you back from living the life that you desire. You are NEVER too old to improve your health![/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]
I’m an active Certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor who specializes in Senior Fitness and Functional Movement. Other interest include photography, travel, inspirational speaking and coaching others through any roadblocks that may be preventing full self-expression.
I firmly believe that nothing is more important in life than your health.
My mission is to continually grow, develop, and express myself fully in life while doing my part to help others discover theirs. Together we can help make the world a better place!