Did you know good body alignment plays an important role in how you feel and how you look? Bad carriage can lead to back pain and stiffness, which can make you move like a much older person. Read on and try these five easy exercises that help maintain alignment.
- Crunches: Strengthen your core abdominal muscles with crunches. Lie on your back with knees bent. The gap between your hips and your heels should be about the length of your foot. Put your hands behind your head with your elbows out. Raise your shoulders off the mat, keeping your chin off your chest. You should feel a tightening sensation in the pit of your stomach. Even if you cannot get your shoulders off the mat at first, you should still feel the tightening sensation in your stomach. Never use your hands to push your head forward, they are just there to help you get your body in the proper position.
- Bridges: Strengthen your hips by doing bridges. While in position for crunches, lower your hands and place them palm down on the floor beside your hips. Tighten and slowly lift your hips. Imagine your body as a bridge running where your head is on from the floor up to your knees. Keep the muscle tightened as you lower your body back to the floor. Try not to let your derriere touch the floor before going into the next repetition.
- Reverse dumbbell flyes: Strengthen your upper back muscles with reverse dumbbell flyes. Sit on a ball, weight bench or solid chair with your feet flat on the floor and about shoulder width apart. Lean forward. Pick up your weights and exhale as you slowly raise the weights to shoulder level. Do not lock your elbows or let your head drop forward. Start out with small weights, or no weight at all while you work on perfecting the move.
- Chest stretch: Stretch your chest muscles with a standing chest stretch. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder width apart. Reach your hands behind you at hip level and interlock your fingers. Slowly raise your interlocked hands as high as you can behind your back. Keep your back straight and shoulders down as you hold the stretch.
- Upward facing dog: Stretch your spine with the upward facing dog stretch. Lie facedown on the floor. Put your hands by your chest, as if doing a push up. Begin to push up, but keep your abdominals relaxed and your hips lowered. Straighten your arms and look upward.
Do two sets of 10 repetitions at first for the strength exercises, and hold each stretching exercise at least 10 seconds with three repetitions.