You might think, posture correction in one month? That is impossible. Well the impossible is possible.
Thanks to modern science and equipment, we can achieve quality posture correction in just 1 month!
When our muscles are at their peak, they can prevent our bones and ligaments from being stressed, strained, and misaligned. Aren’t our postural muscles amazing? Now let’s keep our heads up and stay attentive. The relationship with our postural muscles during the Netflix marathon and the legs crossed becomes faint over time, and our body can be at risk of spinal wear and chronic pain.
Getting that perfect back posture correction is not going to be a quick fix. You will need consistency, awareness and dedication to achieve it. Over the next month, our proposed physio movement and exercise can help you to:
- Loosen up your muscles
- Increase your body awareness
- Body posture correction (realign your body’s joints)
- Strengthen your core muscles
Have your calendar ready to remind yourself what to do. This will cover which exercise to do and set routine reminders that will activate your muscles memory to keep your posture in check. Each exercise will only take up 8 to 20 minutes of your day. So there’s no excuse not to do it!
Building the foundation for body posture correction
The first week is all about learning new poses and exercises and using them to develop what we call an awareness routine.
Day 1; Do posture check
Lean against the wall and check your body posture. The distance between the wall, neck and back should be less than 2 inches. Keep this attitude in mind as you check in every hour for the remaining time. Remember, if you are unsure about your body posture, it is best to consult a professional posture correction specialist or a sports physiotherapist.
How to do a posture check? Here are the steps:
Stand with the back of your head against the wall and place your heels 6 inches from the wall. Your shoulder blades and butt should be touching the wall.
Measure the space between your neck and the wall, and the space between your lower back and the wall. There should be less than 2 inches between both spaces. A larger gap indicates impaired posture.
Day 2: Do Child’s Pose
Do 5 minutes of Child’s Pose, both in the morning and at night. Child’s Pose helps you to stretch and increase your spine that has had several years of bad posture.
How to do Child’s Pose:
Start on your hands and knees, with your knees as far as shoulders-width apart and big toes touching each other.
Crawl forward on your hands and extend your arms straight out toward the front of the mat. You can also drape your arms on the floor alongside your body.
Slowly start to drop your hips back to rest on your heels.
Rest your forehead on the floor.
Breathe for 5–10 deep breaths. (Note: Listening to soft music helps!)
Day 3: Add standing forward fold
Start with a 2-minute child’s pose, and then practise a 30-second standing forward fold for 4 minutes. This pose deeply stretches your hamstrings, stretches your hips, and can help you release any tension in your neck and shoulders.
How to do Standing Forward Fold:
- Start with your feet hips-distance apart and bend at the knees to support your body.
- Exhale as you bend forward at the hips, lengthening the front of your torso.
- Bend your elbows and hold on to each elbow with the opposite hand. Let the crown of your head hang down. Press your heels into the floor as you lift your sit bones toward the ceiling.
- Pull your shoulders away from your ears and drop your head and neck.
- Lengthen your legs until you feel a stretch in the hamstring muscles. Work on engaging your quadriceps to help your hamstring muscles release.
- Release deeper into the pose with each exhalation. Let your head hang as you feel the tension roll out of your shoulders and neck
Do take note that at any stage if you are unsure or uncomfortable, do stop. It is always good to seek an appointment with our professional and well-trained pilates instructor or our sports physio.
Day 4: Add Cat-Cow
Follow this stretching sequence in the morning and at night: hold an active child’s pose for 1 minute and stand forward fold for 2 minutes. Then Cat-Cow for 5 minutes. This sequence of actions will help improve awareness of the spine, which is a large part of imperfect posture.
How to do Cat-Cow:
Start on all fours with wrists, elbows, and shoulders aligned. Spread your fingers for stability and keep your neck neutral. Exhale and tuck your tailbone, pushing your spine towards the ceiling like a Halloween cat. Lengthen your neck and bring your head towards your chest. On the out-breath, move into the Cow position by dropping your belly towards the floor, lifting your chin and chest, and gazing upwards. Relax your shoulders away from your ears.
Day 5: Add chest stretch
Stay active in child’s pose for 1 minute, standing forward fold for 2 minutes, then hold Cat-Cow pose for 2 minutes. Increase the chest stretch for 2 minutes. This is the opposite of our usual sitting posture at work, so it can help reverse bad posture and prevent back pain. Do this every morning and night.
How to do chest stretch:
Start by standing. If you have joint pain, sit on your butt with your legs stretched out in front of you.
Reach your arms behind you and interlace your fingers below your lower back. If your arms don’t reach, use a small towel or PVC pipe instead.
Keep your head neutral and your eyes set straight ahead.
Then, when you’re ready, begin to lift your chest so that your entire trunk elongates toward the ceiling and reach your hands back toward the floor.
Hold this pose for 5 breaths, then relax and repeat.
Day 6: Add Standing Cat-Cow
Do 1 minute of active Child’s Pose, 2 minutes of Cat-Cow, and 2 minutes of the chest-opening stretch. Then stand up and do 2 minutes of the Forward Fold before doing 2 minutes of Standing Cat-Cow. The point of Standing Cat-Cow is to differently activate the back and core muscles, and to help increase awareness of your back in relation to the rest of your body.
How to do Standing Cat-Cow:
With your legs hip-width apart and knees bent, place your hands either out in front of you or on your thighs for added balance.
Keeping your legs static, begin the cat (upward) phase. Lengthen your neck and allow your head to reach toward your chest, maintaining alignment with the spine.
On the out-breath, “swoop and scoop” the pelvis into Cow position.
Hold each pose for 5 breaths and repeat.
The last day of the week is to add chest stretches throughout the day. Repeat day 6’s Routine in the morning and at night. With an additional 2 to 3 minutes of the chest-opening stretch for 3 times throughout the whole day.
Developing the routine
Day 8: Build your core
Before you start your Awareness Routine, do 3 to 5 rounds of high plank (one round equals 10 breaths). The high plank requires awareness of the spinal position as well as engagement of the abdominal muscles, both of which are vital for encouraging body posture corrections.
How to do high plank:
Start in a push-up position, with your arms straight. Press back through your heels so that the backs of your legs are active, too.
With your elbows underneath your shoulders, create space between your shoulders and ears so that there’s a slight stretch. Make sure your chest isn’t sinking and keep your shoulder blades back.
Do 3–5 rounds of 10 breaths: count your breaths.
Day 9: Strengthen your back
Today, we will end the Awareness Routine with a 5 sets of Downward-Facing Dog (holding for 3 deep breaths). Downward-Facing Dog is useful for opening the anterior chest wall and shoulders that are so often rounded with excessive desk work.
How to do it:
Begin on all fours.
Tuck your toes and lift your hips high, toward the ceiling.
Reach your heels back toward the mat without allowing them to plank on the ground. Drop your head so that your neck is long.
As you stay here, make sure that your wrist creases stay parallel to the front edge of the mat. To alleviate the pressure on your wrists, press into the knuckles of your forefinger and thumbs.
Day 10: Loosen tight hips
Finish the Awareness Routine with 5 minutes doing Pigeon Pose. This pose helps loosen tight hips and releases tension in the back of the spine and glutes.
How to do pigeon pose:
Begin in Downward-Facing Dog. Step your feet together and bring your right knee forward between your hands, resting your outer right leg on the mat. Keep your left hip pointing down and draw your right foot closer if needed. Rest your hands on your right leg or walk them forward, allowing your torso to rest over your right knee. Hold for 3-5 breaths. Place your hands on the mat, tuck your left toes, and step your right foot back to Downward-Facing Dog. Repeat on the left side.
Day 11 & 12: Maintain back awareness and double up on core strength
Day 11: Swap the Standing Forward Fold out of your Awareness Routine for the chest opener. Then, when you get to work, set a “movement” reminder alarm to go off on your phone every 20 minutes. Each time the alarm goes off on your phone, stand up and do 30 seconds to 1 minute of Standing Cat-Cow.
Day 12: Plan for a 20-minute workout which includes an extra minute of the Pigeon Pose, if your hips are tight. After you’re done, do 10–12 reps of the side plank, hip up, and twists 3 times. With strong abs it will help support your back so that your back muscles aren’t compensating for your body’s efforts to maintain proper posture.
Day 13: Counteract work posture
Make sure to make time for the awareness routine in the morning and at night. During the day, do 2 minutes of chest- and hip-opening stretches. Ideally, you’ll do chest and hip stretches every 2 hours to counteract work posture and keep your upper body alert and aligned.
How to do it:
Start on one knee with the opposite foot in front, ensuring a wide stance. Place hands on the front knee, tuck tailbone, and activate glutes. Release the hip of the back leg forward and down towards the floor. Clasp hands behind the back and reach arms down towards the back knee while keeping them straight. Lift the heart to open the chest. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths and repeat on the other side.
Last day of the second week, day 14, start standing at work. Move your laptop or computer to a standing desk or counter. You can also eat lunch and take conference calls or meetings standing up. Another option is to spend 15 minutes of every hour standing. If you don’t have a standing desk or high counter in your office, the alternative would be to stack books or a crate on top of your desk to add height.
Making small adjustment
Day 15: Reduce stiffness in your lower back
Spend 5 minutes doing the thoracic spine rotation exercise at night. This pose helps to improve mobility in your torso and reduces stiffness in the mid-to-lower back.
How to do it:
Start out lying on your right side with your fingers spread slightly.
Place your left hand behind your head, but keep your right hand outstretched on the ground in front of you with your fingers spread.
Rotate your left elbow to the sky while exhaling, stretching the front of your torso, and hold for one deep breath, in and out.
Return to the starting position and repeat for 5–10 breaths.
Switch arms and repeat.
Day 16: Move every 20 minutes at work. Set a “movement” reminder alarm to go off on your phone every 20 minutes. Each time the alarm goes off, stand up and stretch for 30 seconds.
Day 17: Trying out a beginner private pilates lesson. Private Pilates lessons tend to include a lot of exercises that can help improve posture by using specialised pilates equipment built to provide resistance to your body to build strength and flexibility.
Day 18: Fire up your glutes
Day 18 is all about counteracting inactive glutes. When your glutes shut down, it can impact your hips and lead to poor posture. So, set a phone alarm for every hour and every time the alarm goes off, do 30 seconds of isometric glute squeezes. (You can do these sitting in your seat too.) Hold this contraction for 10 seconds and then release. Repeat for 1 minute. These isometric squeezes will help ensure that your glute muscles are firing properly.
Day 19: Tune into your sitting posture
For the whole day, set a phone alarm for every 20 minutes. Every time the alarm goes off, check in on your sitting posture. Checking in with yourself and adjusting your posture accordingly can help reform neurological patterns. Try to avoid and keep an eye on the following:
Keep an eye on:
- Your feet, which should be placed on the ground
- Your shoulder, which should be upright
- Your neck, which should be neutral
- Your sitting position, which should be upright, tall and comfortable
How to avoid poor posture
- Don’t cross your legs
- Don’t slouch or jut your neck forwards
- Don’t bend over at the waist
Day 20: Hold your cell phone at eye level when using it
Research shows that over time, looking down at our phones can exacerbate “text neck” or a neck that’s jutted forward. They found that even the slightest tilt of your head, like 15 degrees, can make your 10-pound head feel like 27 pounds. Truly poor posture can turn our heads into 60-pound weights, increasing risk of early wear and tear to your spine.
Day 21: Repeat day 10 and add 5 minutes of Pigeon Pose at the end of your Awareness Routine for week 1. Bonus points: Because stress can increase aches and pains in the body, do one thing that helps you feel less stressed.
Day 22: Maintain your core strength. Begin the morning and end the night with 6 minutes of Child’s Pose, Cat-Cow, and Pigeon Pose. At the end of the day, repeat the plank workout regimen of day 12. However, this time, complete 4 sets instead of 3.
Strengthening your body
The last week is all about maintaining the strength and muscle memory you have built over these few weeks. You will be practicing workout routines from the previous weeks but increasing the number of sets.
Day 23: Strengthen your glutes
Set an hourly phone alarm. Run for 30 seconds of isometric gluteus squeezing each time the alarm sounds. Hold this contraction for 10 seconds and place it. Repeat for 1 minute.
Day 24: Strengthen your shoulders and back
Set an hourly phone alarm. Executes an isometric line from the seat for 10 seconds each time the alarm sounds. This isometric row helps improve posture by working the entire shoulder girdle, rhomboids and major postural muscles.
How to do an isometric row:
- Sit up straight and then drive your elbow into the seat behind you by squeezing your shoulder blades together.
- Hold this contraction for 10 seconds and then release.
- Repeat for 1 minute.
Day 25: Go for a clinical Pilates lesson. If you do not like the lesson you went to on day 17, you should try the beginner class at a new clinical pilates studio. If you are a first timer, most studios will offer you a discount or perhaps even better – like taking your first class for free.
Day 26: Work on core strength and flexibility by completing 5 sets of plank workouts from day 12 (instead of 3). After the workout regimen, do 3–5 minutes of thoracic spine rotation and chest- and hip-opener stretches.
Day 27: Strengthen your glutes
Do a 5-6 minute awareness routine. If your abdominal muscles hurt from yesterday’s abs workout, take the extra time for CatCow to build muscle. Upon arrival at work, repeat the contractions of the isometric anal muscles for 30 seconds every hour during the day.
Day 28: Spend 35 percent of your workday standing
Day 29: Become more aware of your posture. Relax and stand on the wall and take a picture. Look and see if your natural position has improved since day 19. Keep your progress in mind as you move throughout the day.
DAY 30: Spend 50 percent of your workday standing
It accounts for 50% of the working day, and at the end of the day, evaluates how it felt. Check your company’s standing desk policy or consider investing in your own standing desk policy from your home office. If it is determined that there is not enough time to readjust the posture on day 30, repeat again on day 16, the last two weeks.
Do not forget to take a before and after picture for proof. It is to check whether your progression has been made. If you are not able to spend 8 to 20 minutes on doing the above, you can find our posture correction services studio in Singapore where we can guide you through Pilates exercises with Schroth method in mind. A session for one hour once per week will help you with your posture correction.