Stand Up Straight!: How to Improve Your Posture

If you wouldn't listen your mom, take these tips from a personal trainer

Good posture is essential for an ache-free back

What makes you look taller, thinner and more confident? No, it’s not a pair of high heels—it’s good posture.

Not only will standing up straight make you look better, but it’ll also help reduce pain and tension in your neck, shoulders and lower back. Mike Smaltz, personal trainer at Platoon Fitness, offers these core-strengthening stretches and exercises to help you work your way to round-the-clock perfect posture.

Walking High Knee Pull: Take a step forward with your left foot and hug the right knee to your chest; hold, and stand tall. Envision a handle attached to the top of you head pulling you up. Repeat with the other leg on the next step. “Balance and lengthening through the hip and spine will help teach the body to engage the torso muscles,” says Smaltz.

High Plank: Drop into a pushup position and hold, keeping the body in line and maintaining consistent breathing. Don’t round the back or push the buttocks in the air. Count the number of breaths as a gauge for time, and increase the breaths as body starts to adapt.

Spiderman Stretch: Holding the high plank position, move the left foot forward to be placed flat on the ground next to the left hand. If the foot can’t get all the way to the hand then go half the distance.  Hold for a breath then return foot to the high plank position for another breath; repeat with the right side. Smaltz recommends starting with a set of 10 and working up from there.

Wall Sit: Sit with your back against the wall and knees bent at a 90 degree angle; your legs should be together and feet on the floor. Sit erect as you feel your entire spine on the wall. Push the back of the knees down to the floor; the back of your head should be resting on the wall.  Count breaths as a gauge for time, and increase the breaths as body starts to adapt.

Squat: Stand three inches away from a wall facing it, with hands on your hips. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart and toes slightly angled out. Push the butt back and down slowly for a count of 10. Bend the knees but don’t let them touch the wall. Work to get the butt below the height of the knee. Repeat.