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Five easy stretches that automatically improve your posture

Many Canadians overlook how poor posture can affect your daily appearance. Posture can alter what you wear, how you wear it, and most importantly influence the confidence you exude when you wear it.

Clothing is designed for proper posture. You may notice that when you try on new clothes you improve your posture instinctively so that they fit properly. Celebrity posture expert Dr. Liza shares her favourite stretches that improve your day-to-day posture improving how you look and feel in what you wear.

Overview of common poor posture habits:

  • Sitting for long periods of time
  • Hunched shoulders (raised)
  • Hunching in the middle of the back
  • Pelvis tipped forward

OPEN UP YOUR CHEST TO LOOK TALLER AND SLIMMER

Pectoral stretch: Interlock your hands behind your back, keeping your arms straight while pulling your hands down towards to ground. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for five seconds while keeping your body in an upright position. You should feel a comfortable stretch through your chest. Do this several times each day.

What it does: By releasing tight pectoral muscles, the shoulders will visibly drop and move backward, combatting the rounded hunch effect that ads bulk. This results in a taller and slimmer-looking frame, while the increased blood flow provides a facial glow.

EXTEND YOUR MIDDLE BACK FOR A NATURAL BREAST LIFT

Thoracic extension:  Stand or sit in a chair and clasp both hands behind your head. Gently arch backward, squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for five seconds. You should feel a comfortable stretch through your chest. Do this several times each day.

What it does: This reduces hunching in the middle back, opens up the chest and creates a natural breast lift. Bonus!

TILT YOUR PELVIS BACK FOR A FLATER STOMACH

Pelvis tilt: Lie down with your back on the floor, knees bent and feet planted on the ground. Put one hand behind the small of your back. Tilt your pelvis so that you squish your hand into the floor. Hold this for five seconds to complete a pelvic tilt. After practicing this movement while lying on the ground, try doing it standing. To do this standing, place your hand in the small of your back and tilt your pelvis so that you are applying pressure to your hand. Hold this for five seconds.

What it does: Often a result of too much sitting, tight hip flexor muscles cause your pelvis to tilt forward and create a protruding stomach, even if you’re thin. This little exercise helps to bring your pelvis (and stomach!) back into alignment and also reduces back pain by engaging your core and pelvic muscles.

BEND BACKWARDS FOR A CONFIDENCE BOOST

Back bends: Stand with your feet planted firmly on the ground and your hands behind your hips for support. Look up to the ceiling and take a deep breath in. As you exhale, slowly and gently bend backwards to the point where you can maintain your balance. Take a few breaths while you’re in the back bend, then slowly come back up to standing. As you feel more comfortable with this exercise you can bring your arms overhead while you bend.

What it does: This is an ideal exercise to do every time you get up from a sitting position. It takes pressure off your spine, which reduces lower back pain, while also improving a hunched appearance. Looking up to the ceiling corrects misaligned forward head posture too, making you look longer and leaner. And most importantly, by creating a more open posture, your confidence levels are elevated. This is due to a rise in testosterone levels when your posture is open. Since testosterone is the hormone associated with confidence, maintaining an open power pose will not only help you look better, it will help you feel better.

CHIN TUCK FOR STATUESQUE APPERANCE

Chin tuck: Standing straight, pull the upper back and head backward with your chin down until you feel like you are giving yourself a double chin. Hold this position for 5 seconds and repeat this 10 times.

What it does: This posture exercise helps strengthen the muscles that pull the head back into alignment over the shoulders. It also stretches the neck muscles giving you a more statuesque appearance. As an added bonus, it is also one of the most effective exercises for combatting neck pain.