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Get better posture in a matter of minutesWant to appear thinner, younger, and more confident? Then stop slouching and try sitting and standing with proper posture.
Very few people have good posture, and even fewer have perfect posture.
One of the main reasons for bad posture is a lack of self-awareness. You often don’t notice that your shoulders are hunched over-but your mom sure did! And while you can immediately recognize poor posture in others, they weren’t born that way. In fact, poor posture develops rather slowly, and many people don’t even realize they have poor posture until they start having symptoms such as neck and low back pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion.
What does good posture look like and what can you do to achieve it?
When your muscles and joints are properly aligned, balanced, and equally supported, you’re more likely to have good posture. Good posture enables you to perform daily activities more efficiently and with less effort. If the joints and muscles of your shoulders, backbone, hips, knees, and ankles aren’t aligned, certain muscles become overworked compared to others, causing them to become tense while the un-worked muscles become weak. This imbalance leads to poor posture. The worse your posture becomes, the greater the stress placed on your joints, causing stiffness, pain, and loss of motion.
Do these unwanted symptoms sound familiar? If so, practice the exercises below to restore your body’s alignment. By doing so, you’ll notice yourself sitting up straighter and standing taller, not to mention finding relief from the pain in your back and neck.
A Strong Core
Proper posture results from strong core muscles. When lower back and abdominal muscles are strong, they’re able to stabilize and align your torso, spine, and pelvis. Here are three key exercises to strengthen your core while improving your posture. Make them a part of your regular workout.
Curl-Up. Also known as the new crunch, this is another great exercise to strengthen your core muscles and improve posture. Lie on your back and bend your knees with your feet on the floor. Either place your hands under your head or extend your arms down toward your knees. Whichever position you prefer, be careful not to strain your neck. Exhale, pull in your abdominals, and slowly and smoothly lift your head and shoulders off the floor. Hold for a second and then lower. Repeat this motion until you can’t do another.
For more intensity, straighten one leg at a 45-degree angle or lift both legs and bend your knees until your lower legs are parallel to the floor.
Plank. Another great exercise to work your abdominals as well as your back and shoulder muscles is the plank pose. For this one, get on your hands and knees. Place your hands on the floor under your shoulders. Then straighten both legs behind you until you’re in push-up position. Hold in your abdominals, look down at the floor, hold this position as long as you can, take a break, and then do it again.
Want more intensity? Go for the forearm plank by resting on your forearms instead of your hands.
For safety and effectiveness, pull in your abdominals during these exercises. Also, use slow, controlled movements and don’t hold your breath. Only do as many repetitions as your fitness level allows. If you have severe back pain or if these movements make your pain worse, talk with an exercise or medical professional.
Once you master these exercises, you’ll be better prepared to protect your back and neck and enjoy standing tall, thanks to your good posture!
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