Woman meditating

Posture exercises: 5 upper body stretches to support your back and shoulders

Posted by for Strength

We asked an osteopath for her best posture-boosting exercises. 

Posture is about far more than the way you sit at a desk. It is also about strength, flexibility, and overall health, because having good posture can impact your energy levels as much as your muscle pain.

Practicing good posture means having to strengthen the muscles of your back, core, neck and shoulders. It’s important to make these exercises a regular part of your exercise routine if you want to make a lasting impact on your posture.

We asked Charlotte Mernier, a registered Osteopath at My Osteo London, for her top five exercises for improving our posture. Her advice is to perform these exercises a minimum of three times per week. “Without this frequency, the muscles and the nervous system won’t adapt and you’ll see no results.” 

Chin tucks

A chin tuck is a great exercise to have in your arsenal, because it can be incorporated into a workout routine, or performed during the workday when you’re sitting at your desk.

Sit upright with your back straight, looking straight ahead. Slowly move your head backwards, keeping your head level throughout the movement. Hold for up to ten seconds, and then return to the starting position. Charlotte suggests you do three sets of between ten and 15 repetitions.

Prone cobra

The prone cobra exercise helps to strengthen the muscles that allow you to naturally maintain good posture when you’re sitting, reading or looking at your phone.

To do a prone cobra correctly, start by lying face down with your arms by your sides and your palms on the floor. Squeezing your core and shoulder blades, lift your head, arms and legs up off the floor. Hold this position for ten seconds, making sure you keep your neck in a neutral position as you do so. Repeat ten times.

Back burn

This exercise is good for targeting neck pain, which is a common problem amongst people with poor posture. To start, stand with your head and back against a wall and extend your arms out at shoulder height. The backs of your hands should also be against the wall.

Keeping your body flush against the wall behind you and your arms straight, slide your arms up above your head and then slowly back down. You should do three sets of between ten and 15 reps. 

Doorway pectoral stretch

This exercise can be easily done anywhere, so long as there’s a door you can hold on to. Start by standing in the middle of a doorway, with your arms out to your sides, elbows bent at a 90 degree angle, and your hands placed flat on the doorframe. Put one foot in front of the other, and shift your weight onto your front leg. When you can feel a stretch in your chest, hold the position. Charlotte recommends doing this exercise for 15 seconds, and repeating it three times. 


woman planking outside
Train to hold a two-minute plank in two weeks.

A staple core exercise, the plank is a great exercise for opening up your chest and strengthening your shoulders. Start by holding your body up off the floor with your forearms and your legs extended straight out behind you. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders down to your feet. Hold this position for ten seconds, and repeat ten times. 

Remember, Charlotte recommends that you do these exercises a minimum of three times per week. “Unfortunately, we can’t build muscle strength overnight.” 

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Images: Getty

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