Posture exercises for seniors can go a long way toward minimizing the risk of falling. Exercises to improve posture can also have a major impact on quality of life.
Were your parents constantly reminding you about sitting up straight? Did they tell you to stop slouching? Hopefully, you heeded that advice – and have continued to do so over the years. If you didn’t, you’re not alone.
Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t practice proper posture, especially as they get older. They may be dealing with a loss of balance and strength as a result, and may have trouble standing.
In many instances, they may even need physical therapy. But it’s not too late to rectify this situation.
Several strengthening exercises are designed to promote proper posture and help lower your risk of injury in the process. Read on to learn certain exercises can aid your flexibility, balance and well-being.
Why Is Proper Posture Important?
Are you used to standing in high heels for extended periods of time?
Do you tend to slouch your shoulders or have poor head posture when sitting or walking?
Are you carrying too much weight on your frame?
Over time, these could all lead to pain in the feet and upper body. They could also wreak havoc on your posture – setting you up for health problems down the road.
Good posture is important because it helps to distribute weight evenly, reducing the strain on muscles and ligaments. It can also help reduce the risk of injury to the spine, and it helps your body to conserve energy.
Proper posture can also reduce the risk of suffering from joint pain. It promotes flexibility in the ligaments that support your bones. This also helps you stay balanced so are less likely to fall or have an accident.1
What is the Relationship Between Posture and Spine Health?
Good posture benefits your head, hips, shoulders, arms, knees and other parts of your body. But there’s no area of the body it benefits more than your spine.
Something as simple as sitting upright can go a long way toward keeping your spine healthy.
Avoiding slouched shoulders can keep you from bending your head forward. This relieves stress on the neck and the nerves that lead to your arms. Keeping your feet flat on the floor can also help support spine health.
If you don’t practice proper posture, it can lead to a domino effect, putting a lot of pressure on your spine. This, in turn, can result in a great deal of discomfort.2
Exercises Designed to Help Spine Health
Here are a couple of exercises that could help strengthen the spine. They’re designed to support stability and flexibility.
Talk to your doctor first to make sure it will be safe for you to try these exercises or any other type of physical activity.
1. Seat Side Straddle
This exercise is intended to help stretch the back and hamstrings.
Sit on the floor and extend your left leg to the side.
- Bend the other leg.
- Slowly bend from your hips toward the extended leg, then stretch your hands toward your toes on your left foot, keeping your elbows straight.
- Hold this for five seconds.
- Then move your hands toward your shin (again, keep your elbows straight) and point your head toward your chest.
- Hold for 30 seconds. Relax for 30 seconds, and then switch sides.
Repeat the sequence 10 times.
2. Head Rolls
This exercise can help gently stretch your neck and upper back.
Sit up straight in a sturdy chair, or stand.
- Point your chin towards your chest and then slowly roll your head gently to the right. Try to get your head in a position where your ear is over your shoulder.
- Hold this position for five seconds.
- Roll your head to your chest and move it to the left. After holding this position for five seconds, roll your head in a circle (in a clockwise movement) three times.3
How Do Core Exercises For Posture Benefit Senior Citizens?
Your core muscles are the ones that comprise your back, abdomen, pelvis, and hips. If your core isn’t strong, it may lead to balance problems and posture issues. Core exercises can help improve your balance, stamina, and coordination.4
These core exercises are designed to help strengthen these critically important muscles. Before adding them to your workout regimen, check with your doctor.
3. Side Bends
This is one of the more common chair exercises used to help strengthen your core muscles.
Start in a sitting position, keeping your feet flat on the floor.
- Take one hand and place it behind your head. Slowly reach toward the floor with your other hand. As you lean over, try to touch the floor.
- Return to your sitting position, switch hands, and repeat this bend on the other side.
4. Leg Raises
These leg raises are designed to help strengthen your lower abdominal muscles.
- Lie flat on the floor and relax your feet and legs.
- Move one leg slightly off the floor (about five inches).
- Hold that position for three seconds, then slowly lower your leg back to the floor.
- Repeat the lift with your other leg.5
What Does Hyperkyphotic Posture Mean?
Hyperkyphosis is a type of deformity affecting the spine. It’s more commonly referred to as having a hunched back. Hyperkyphosis is caused by excessive spine curvature.6 People with this condition are said to have a hyperkyphotic posture.
This condition can lead to a lot more than a humped back or rounding of the shoulders.
It can lead to a loss of balance and even result in serious breathing issues.7 It can even increase the risk of vertebral fracture as well.8
If you suspect you are dealing with hyperkyphotic posture, speak to your doctor — they may have some suggestions for supporting your health.
Studies show that certain exercises could help reduce the risk of hyperkyphosis. One exercise is called, simply enough, the shoulder squeeze.
The first thing you do is stand up straight, keeping your feet spaced about the width of your hips. Then picture squeezing a tennis ball between the shoulder blades.
Squeeze them together and then relax. Do about 12-15 reps, pause for about 30-60 seconds, and then do another set of 12-15 reps. Pause again and then try one more set.9
You Can Take Steps to Improve Posture
Your postural muscles in your neck, back, abdomen, and legs, play a major role in helping you maintain your balance. But even if you have posture issues, there are ways you might be able to help improve them – supporting flexibility and potentially preventing a fall or injury down the line in the process.
You won’t need a lot of expensive equipment – a chair, mat, or resistance band may be all that’s necessary to help keep you standing tall.
Just remember to talk to your doctor first before trying any sort of new exercise routine.
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