Resistance band exercises to help improve posture

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Alleviate aches and pains that come from poor posture with these resistance band exercises. 

When it comes to alleviating the aches and pains of desk work, there’s only so much that stretching can do for you. Sure, decompressing the spine by leaning into a forward fold feels nice but, rather than releasing tension after a long day of sitting, it’s best to get to the root cause of your pain. 

“There’s a common misconception that pain comes from tight muscles,” says physiotherapist and performance coach Samantha Williams. “Muscles don’t like to be held in an elongated position for a long period of time, as many of them are when you’re sat all day, and it can lead to weakness. That is when they start to give you tension and irritation.”

The antidote to weak muscles is, of course, strength training. “If the muscle is strong, then it’s able to combat the forces of gravity and support you in your day-to-day, even if that is sitting for a long period of time,” says Samantha. 

One of the easiest ways to strengthen your muscles, particularly now that we’re without gyms, is with resistance bands. “Muscle activation with resistance bands is actually not that different from lifting weights, but it can be a more comfortable way to build muscle tissue. There’s also more freedom and flexibility with bands because you can pull them in different directions,” she says. 

Resistance band workout for better posture
Resistance band workout for better posture: banded pull aparts

While strengthening your entire body is important for pain relief, there are certain muscles that need the most attention. “You want to do the opposite of what you do all day,” says Samantha. “For example, if you’re sat leaning forward all day, you’ll find that the muscles in the front of your body tend to sit in a shortened position and muscles at the back of your body are elongated and become weaker. You need to target these areas for better posture. And don’t forget the core, because that’s important for full-body strength and stability.” 

Try these exercises to strengthen the back of the body using just a resistance band, and see if it makes a difference to your posture pain. 

Reverse grip banded pull aparts

Targets: the back of the shoulders and the upper back 

  1. Hold a long loop resistance band horizontally, with your hands shoulder-width apart and palms facing towards the ceiling.
  2. Lift your hands so that they are at shoulder height, parallel to the floor. 
  3. With your shoulders pulled down, away from the ears, squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull your hands apart. 
  4. When you’ve pulled as far as you can, hold for a few seconds, then bring your hands back to the starting position.

Repeat as many times as you can for three sets

Banded Romanian deadlift

Targets: hamstrings and glutes

  1. Place a short loop resistance band just above the knees. Alternatively, step into a long loop resistance band, with your feet standing on top of the band and the other end looped around your shoulders. 
  2. Bend at the waist to send your hips backwards, making sure to press your knees out wide and keep the weight in your heels. 
  3. Squeeze the glutes to bring yourself back up to standing. 

Repeat as many times as you can for three sets

Banded bird dogs

Targets: abdominals, glutes and erector spinae (the muscles that run along your spine)

  1. Come into a tabletop position with your hands underneath your shoulders and knees underneath your hips. Loop a resistance band around the ball of your right foot and between your thumb and forefinger on your left hand. 
  2. Draw your belly button in towards the spine as your lift and extend your right foot and left arm.
  3. When you reach full extension, hold and squeeze the glutes and core.
  4. Return back to the starting position. 

Repeat 10-15 times on each side for three sets

Banded seated rows

Targets: lats, upper and middle back

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs extended out in front of you and feet flexed towards the sky. 
  2. Place a long loop resistance band across the middle of both feet and take either end in each fist. 
  3. Tuck your elbows into your ribs and keep your arms at 90º.
  4. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull the band backwards. 
  5. Squeeze at the end of the movement, then return back to starting position. 

Repeat as many times as you can for three rounds

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Images: Getty

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