health

From neck stretches to standing desks: 4 ways to improve your posture, according to a physio.

At the beginning of 2021 I told myself that 'improving my posture' would be an achievable new year’s resolution.

It’s been one year since and I’ve done nothing about it.

You could argue that setting a new year’s resolution was my first mistake. But really, I think my biggest flaw was not understanding what 'improving my posture' really meant. 

Sure, I slouch on my desk chair every day and I spend almost every spare second hunched over my phone, but I am completely unaware of my posture in the moment. 

I decided I needed professional help, so I spoke to Chloe de Winter, physiotherapist and founder of Go Chlo Pilates. She promised to help me understand what posture is and show me ways to improve it. 

What is good posture?

First of all, Chloe believes there isn’t 'good' or 'bad' posture. 

“I think about posture not as good or bad, but I think of posture as more of a process and it's a journey. And it's something that we need to think about and have a bit of a focus on always,” Chloe told Mamamia

“Posture is impacted by a lot of different things, one being stiffness in the spine or in the shoulders. Most people will think about it like a hunched over body, maybe the head is leaning forward. But for me, I can actually correct that with a bit of awareness. So if I think about my posture, suddenly my posture will improve.”

“But also, improving your posture is about stretching and mobilising stiffness and tightness in the body that's affecting the posture, and it's also about building strength through the postural muscles.” Chloe explained.

Here are the four daily stretches Chloe recommends for improving posture. 

1. Neck stretches

Neck stretches can be done at your desk. From a seated position, drop the head to the left drawing the left ear towards the left shoulder. Use the left hand on your head to deepen the stretch. Hold for one minute then switch to the other side. 

This will release any tightness through the side and the back of the neck. You can also roll the head forward to release more through the back of the neck, which is where a lot of people feel tension when they're stressed. 


Chloe stretching her neck. 

 

 2. Seated stretch

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If you’re working from home or sitting all day, you can follow this quick stretch while seated. 

Shuffle forward slightly on your chair so you have space behind you. Twist your body, grab the back of the chair and use that to rotate your body. Then, twist the body over to the left and garb the back of the chair. use your arms to twist the spine, stretching through the ribs and upper back. Hold for one minute then switch sides. 

This will mobilise through your upper back and free up any stiffness through what's called your thoracic spine.


Chloe twisting her body in a seated stretch. 

 

3. Standing stretch

Stand behind a chair with your hands resting on top of the chair and take a big step back. Fold the body forward so your chest is parallel to the floor and the arms straight. Hold and breathe. You should feel a deep stretch through the shoulders as well as the hamstrings and spine. 

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This is a great stretch for the shoulders, spine and back of the legs.


Chloe using a chair to stretch her back. 

 

4. Move throughout the day

Our bodies aren’t designed to sit in one position all day so it's important to keep moving.

Chloe recommends getting up at least once every hour to move your body - go for a walk, get some water, or do some of the stretches above. 

Standing desks are great as you can alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day. 

If you are mindful about moving your body and follow the stretches above every day, your posture will start to improve in no time. 

Well, looks like I’m going to be buying a standing desk soon. 

Chloe de Winter is a physiotherapist, master Pilates instructor and the founder of online Pilates platform Go Chlo Pilates. Chloe's premium at-home Pilates classes are suitable for all levels and stages of life. Experience the joy of movement with Go Chlo Pilates.

For more information on Pilates, subscribe to Go Chlo Pilates on demand. Access over 200 classes and new Pilates workouts every week, anywhere, anytime. Start your 14-day free trial today. 

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