Antidote to Sitting: 6 Simple Exercises to Straighten Your Slouch

September 25, 2015 7:42 am Last Updated: September 30, 2015 6:26 pm

Research shows that sitting has a negative effect on our posture, causing accelerated aging and needless wear and tear and on our bodies.

Specifically, sitting lengthens and weakens the gluteal muscles while at the same time tightening the hip flexors. It also lengthens and weakens the upper back while tightening the chest muscles.

Sitting at a desk and looking down at a screen also lengthens the muscles at the back of the neck and shortens and tightens the muscles in front, thus pulling the head forward beyond its natural position.

Sitting for extended periods of time also compresses the spaces between the vertebrae of the spine.

The following six exercises will help reverse these negative effects.

Cat and Cow

This helps open up a compacted spine.

  • Get on your hands and knees with hands directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips.
(Petr Svab/Epoch Times)
(Petr Svab/Epoch Times)
  • Keep your spine straight from the tailbone to the back of the head.
  • Start with the cat. Take a nice inhale and as you exhale, draw your belly button toward your spine, tuck your tailbone, round your back, and bring your chin to your chest.
    (Petr Svab/Epoch Times)
    (Petr Svab/Epoch Times)
  • Then move slowly to the cow. Slowly inhale as you bring your spine back to a neutral position, allowing your belly to expand as you gently extend your neck, reverse the curvature of your spine, and extend your hips upward.

Move slowly back and forth from cat to cow 10 times.

Supine Hip Extension

This strengthens the gluteal muscles.

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and arms down by your sides with your palms up.
    (Petr Svab/Epoch Times)
    (Petr Svab/Epoch Times)
  • Brace the belly, tighten the gluteal muscles, and slowly press your hips off the floor. Moving slowly, keep lifting until the knees, hips, and shoulders are in one straight line.
    (Petr Svab/Epoch Times)
    (Petr Svab/Epoch Times)
  • Hold for one second then slowly lower hips to the floor.

Repeat 10 times.

Horse Stance

This exercise reverses the forward curve of the spine and strengthens the lower back and core.

  • Get on your hands and knees with hands directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips.
    (Petr Svab/Epoch Times)
    (Petr Svab/Epoch Times)
  • Extend the right arm out and then the left leg so both are parallel to the floor. Hold this position for 10 seconds.
    (Petr Svab/Epoch Times)
    (Petr Svab/Epoch Times)

Do 5 repetitions on each side.

Kneeling Hip-Flexor Stretch

This stretches the hip flexor muscles and reduces stress on the lower back.

  • Place the right knee on the floor with left leg in front, knee bent.20150918-paul-frediani-wow-petrsvab-1929_12
  • Lift your right arm over your head, contract your right glute, and gently press your hips forward.
    (Petr Svab/Epoch Times)
    (Petr Svab/Epoch Times)

Hold for 5 seconds and switch sides.

Repeat 5 times on each side.

Prone Superman

This strengthens the back and shoulders.

  • Lie on the floor on your stomach with your hands by your hips, palms facing up.
    (Petr Svab/Epoch Times)
    (Petr Svab/Epoch Times)
  • Keeping your feet on the floor, exhale and gently lift your chest and hands off the floor. At the same time, rotate your palms toward the floor and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold for 1 second and release.
    (Petr Svab/Epoch Times)
    (Petr Svab/Epoch Times)

Repeat 10 times.

Shoulder-Chest Stretch

Stretching the front part of the shoulder and chest helps reverse a forward slouch. If you do it occasionally while sitting, it will remind you to sit up straight and is an excellent way to take a small break from working at a desk.

  • Whether doing this stretch standing or sitting, keep your back straight, squeeze your shoulders blades together, and clasp your hands behind your back.
    (Petr Svab/Epoch Times)
    (Petr Svab/Epoch Times)
  • Gently lift your hands away from your back.
    (Petr Svab/Epoch Times)
    (Petr Svab/Epoch Times)

Hold the stretch position for 20–30 seconds.

Paul Frediani, B.S, ACSM EC-P, senior fitness specialist, is the co-owner of Elysium Fitness  in NYC. For information regarding personal training at our facility or in the convenience of your home contact us at ElysiumFitness.net