5 Easy Exercises to Improve Posture

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posture, 5 Easy Exercises to Improve Posture

posture, 5 Easy Exercises to Improve Posture

5 Easy Exercises to Improve Posture

The natural curve of the spine is reinforced by correct posture. Posture not only influences how you look but helps you breathe, improves concentration, supports vital organ function and stimulates overall well-being.

Ignoring harmful postural habits leads to illness, discomfort and pain, and increases the risk for the development of disease in the body.  You can improve your posture and nervous system function and improve your quality of life significantly.

At the bottom of this article, you will discover a video and narrative for 5 exercises that will help you correct defects and optimize your posture in minutes each day.  Much like we brush and floss our teeth for dental health, we need to work on our posture each and every day!

posture, 5 Easy Exercises to Improve Posture

Spinal Curve Dictates Health

The body was built with a curve in the spine to provide support and balance to the musculoskeletal system. It is essential for preventing deformation to bones, joints, muscles and tendons. Correct posture protects against disc degeneration that can lead to inflammatory conditions and disease. It is also critical for protecting the central nervous system. (1)

Postural experts understand that poor posture weakens the body’s ability to defend itself against infectious and chronic diseases.  They also view poor posture as a marker for the presence of chronic illness.  Today, many posture focused doctors such as chiropractors advocate for health measures in schools to educate students about correct posture techniques to reduce the current posture epidemic brought on by modern technologies such as cell phones that force us into a forward head shift. (4)

Doctors refer to the natural curve of the neck as the “arch of life.” This arch should have a 40-45 degree curve.  As the arch reduces it becomes unstable and results in a forward head shift, which depending upon the severity can add up to 30 pounds of additional weight on the spinal discs, ligaments and tendons.

This postural issue causes major stress on the musculoskeletal system. Loss of the spine’s natural curve inhibits normal physiological and nervous system functions.  The ability to protect the brain stem and support the communication of nerve impulses throughout the body becomes suppressed.

posture, 5 Easy Exercises to Improve Posture

Effects of Subluxation

Unfortunately, we are a modern age characterized by reoccurring activities that creates stress on the supporting spinal column. Slouching, crossing legs, cell phone use, and incorrect ergonomic practices at home, school and work causes poor posture. This leads to the abnormal curvature of the spine and abnormal stress on the nervous system, which is known as subluxation.

Subluxation interferes with nerve impulses and can manifest in numerous physical symptoms. Examples include: (2, 3)

  • Neuropathy
  • Back pain or neck pain
  • Chronic pain common in the hips, joints, lower back, pelvis and knees
  • Irritation of a specific area such as arm pain
  • Weakened immune system
  • Organ dysfunction
  • Inability to move or exercise normally
  • Dizziness and loss of balance
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Fatigue

Although our very own chronic habits lead to forward head posture, the spine is also susceptible to trauma from birth, regular physical activities from exercise and sports, as well as accidental injury from car accidents and falls.

Depending on the type of injury and which nerve pathways of the spine become disrupted, spinal subluxations can increase the risk for weakened immunity and lowered quality of life (5).

posture, 5 Easy Exercises to Improve Posture

Dangers of Forward Head Posture

Vanity is of least concern when it comes to the problems associated with forward head posture. As the head shifts forward, the thoracic spine moves and the weakening of the shoulder blades causes slouching and the appearance of hunchback. These harmful effects trigger the descent downward of vital organs in the chest. There is a decrease in lung capacity, a reduced flow of oxygen into the diaphragm and a lower rate of oxygen reaching the cells.

A reduction in circulating oxygen in the body poses serious health threats. Oxygen is essential for survival because it maintains homeostatic functions including hormone balance, supports blood flow, protects the body from chronic disease and cancer, fuels nutrient absorption and protects the health and healing of cells, tissues and organs. (9)

Studies have shown that forward head posture is an indication of poor health and is reported to cause the impairment of simple activities including walking or sitting comfortably. It is likely that physical limitations of the body marked by poor posture accelerate the aging process and increases inflammation. This is a result of the body’s inability to manage stress and tissue trauma appropriately. (6)

Other evidence supports that the correction of forward head posture: (7, 8)

  • Alleviates symptoms of respiratory complications such as asthma
  • Increases breathing and lung oxygenation essential for physical fitness
  • Strengthens abdominal muscles
  • Restores enlarged tonsils
  • Improves glandular function in the head and neck

posture, 5 Easy Exercises to Improve Posture

Improvements from Chiropractic Care:

Chiropractic adjustments can help compensate for postural abnormalities leading to an improvement in the health of the spine and the whole body. Research performed by Dr. Morningstar and Dr. Jockers found that chiropractic adjustments and rehabilitation exercises lead to the correction of forward head posture and cervical lordosis and restored pulmonary function. (10)

Findings of the study also suggests that chiropractic care can improve the function of the autonomic nervous system by relieving tension that hinders the vital communication between the brain and body.

Corrective care chiropractors are able to identify abnormal features of the spine using x-rays, postural pictures, nerve scans and various technologies. Doctors then develop a specific care plan used to treat each individual’s concern focusing on chiropractic adjustments and rehabilitative techniques like the 5 exercises that follow.

posture, 5 Easy Exercises to Improve Posture

5 Exercises:

In 30 to 90 days you can improve posture, breathe better, boost oxygenation throughout your body and alleviate tension, stress and pain.

Performing each of the following exercises for 1 minute twice a day will boost your body’s total healing potential, reduce your risk of developing degenerative disease and help you to thrive in life.

1)  Hummingbird:

Remove the slouch from poor posture and realign the head with the spine by practicing the hummingbird. This exercise strengthens the muscles between the shoulder blades, improves muscle fibers around the thoracic spinal column, opens up pectoral muscles and lifts the rib cage.

Instructions for Exercise:

  1. Lift arms so that they are parallel to the floor.
  2. Bend elbows and face palms forward to form a 90 degree angle between the bicep and forearm.
  3. Rotate arms backwards in a circular movement while squeezing shoulder blades together.
  4. Repeat for 1 minute.

2)  The Eagle:

With this exercise imagine opening up your arms just like an eagle spreads its wings. Stretching your arms overhead will open up the lungs. This boosts oxygen intake to stimulate tissue regeneration in the body and increase blood flow.

Instructions for Exercise:

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Start with arms lowered and adjacent to sides.
  3. Simultaneously lift arms above the head,
  4. Pause for a moment; and
  5. Lower arms back down to sides in a slow and controlled movement.
  6. Repeat for 1 minute.

posture, 5 Easy Exercises to Improve Posture

3)  Butterfly:

The butterfly is an extraordinary exercise to correct forward head posture. Performing this exercise regularly targets muscles in the neck and shoulders that give rise to chronic neck pain.

Instructions for Exercise:

  1. Focus on lifting chest toward the ceiling.
  2. Bring hands back against head so that thumbs point down. *Optional: If reduced flexibility hinders your ability to lift arms and hands behind head, perform exercise standing flat against a wall. You can also align back of head against car seat.
  3. Use about 10% of strength to push head backward while keeping head straight.
  4. Pause for approximately 10 seconds.
  5. Relax and repeat for 1 minute.

4)  Chin Tuck:

An opposing exercise to the butterfly is the chin tuck. This exercise provides balance to the opposite core muscles in the neck by strengthening the deep neck flexors. Performing the chin tuck helps balance the head and neck reducing the occurrence of forward head shift.

Instructions for Exercise:

  1. Focus on lifting chest toward the ceiling.
  2. Maintain head position with ears over the neck.
  3. Place 1 hand on forehead; and
  4. Gently push forward with about 10% of strength (muscles in neck should contract and head should appear immobile).
  5. Repeat for 1 minute.

5)  Trap Opener:

The trapezius muscles stabilize the shoulder blades providing support for head and neck movement. Habitual forward head posture pulls and weakens the shoulder blades which consequently also relocates the ribcage.

Unlike the previous four exercise, the trap opener is a favorite amongst patients and is not intended to stretch or strengthen the trap muscles. Rather, perform this exercise to release stress from the trapezius muscles and get rid of the so called “monkey” on your back.

Instructions for Exercise:

  1. Relax shoulders.
  2. Drop the chin towards the chest.
  3. Roll head slightly to the right side.
  4. Use right hand to massage trapezius muscles on the upper left side of the back.
  5. Repeat exercise for opposite side.
  6. Perform for 1 minute.

posture, 5 Easy Exercises to Improve Posture


Don’t ignore the signs of poor posture that can impact your ability to sleep restfully at night or concentrate clearly during the day. Poor posture has devastating effects on the body that can only be treated with mindful practices. Utilize these 5 exercises to improve your posture and reap its benefits reflected in overall health and well being.

If you want to work with a functional health coach, I recommend this article with tips on how to find a great coach.  We offer long-distance functional health coaching programs. For further support with your heart health and other goals, just reach out—our fantastic coaches are here to support your journey.

posture, 5 Easy Exercises to Improve PostureSources for this Article Include:

1. Kim D, Cho M, Park Y, Yang Y. Effect of an exercise program for posture correction on musculoskeletal pain.Journal of Physical Therapy Science. 2015; 27(6):1791-1794. PMCID: 4499985
2. Kent C. Models of Vertebral Subluxation: A Review. J Verteb Sublux Res. 1996 Aug; 1(1). Link Here
3. Owens EF. Chiropractic subluxation assessment: what the research tells us.The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association. 2002; 46(4):215-220. PMCID: 2505023
4. Kim MH, Yi CH, Kwon OY, Cho SH, Yoo WG. Changes in neck muscle electromyography and forward head posture of children when carrying schoolbags. Ergonomics. 2008 Jun;51(6):890-901. PMID: 18484402
5. Wenban AB, Nielsen MK. Chiropractic maintenance care and quality of life of a patient presenting with chronic low back pain. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2005 Feb;28(2):136-42. PMID: 15800514
6. Deborah M. Kado, Mei-Hua Huang, Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, Gail A. Greendale; Hyperkyphotic Posture and Poor Physical Functional Ability in Older Community-Dwelling Men and Women: The Rancho Bernardo Study.J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2005; 60 (5): 633-637. Link Here
7. Ozbek MM, et al. Natural head posture, upper airway morphology and obstructive sleep apnoea severity in adults. Eur J Orthod. 1998 Apr; 20(2): 133-43. PMID: 9633167
8. Okuro, Renata Tiemi, Morcillo, André Moreno, Ribeiro, Maria Ângela Gonçalves Oliveira, Sakano, Eulália, Conti, Patrícia Blau Margosian, & Ribeiro, José Dirceu. (2011). Mouth breathing and forward head posture: effects on respiratory biomechanics and exercise capacity in children.Jornal Brasileiro de Pneumologia37(4), 471-479. Link Here
9. Michiels C. Physiological and Pathological Responses to Hypoxia.The American Journal of Pathology. 2004; 164(6):1875-1882. PMCID: 1615763
10. Morningstar M, and Jockers D. Improvement in Forward Head Posture, Cervical Lordosis, and Pulmonary Function with Chiropractic Care, Anterior Head Weighting and Whole Body Vibration: A Retrospective Study. J Pediatric, Mat Fam Health. 2009 Oct. Link Here

posture, 5 Easy Exercises to Improve Posture

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Dr. Jockers

Dr David Jockers is passionate about seeing people reach their health potential in mind, body and spirit. He is the host of the popular “Dr Jockers Functional Nutrition” podcast and the author of the best-selling books, “The Keto Metabolic Breakthrough” and “The Fasting Transformation.”


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  1. thank you for your article with sets of exercises. I have been noticing my head jutting forward as I walk past mirrors and have tried to straighten up but always end up the same in the next reflection. Guess this all started with my aching feet (Morton’s Neuroma) feeling like I have been stepping on a marble in both feet. The inserts help, so I won’t see a dr. for surgery. I want to stand up straight so Will do the exercises.

  2. I think these exercises sound very good. Thanks for the clear explanations. I have trouble with neck arm and shoulder pain and it spreads to my ear and sinuses. Will give it a go!

  3. Thank you so much for these exercises. I am finding that they energize and bring a feeling of openness to my neck and shoulders. I would like to clarify about the Trap Opener; should we be performing each side for 30 seconds, for a total of one minute, or one minute on each side? Thanks again, for this and all of the excellent ideas and information you share.

  4. You had mentioned in your podcast about things you do every day about a 2lb. head weight that you wear for posture. Where can this be purchased?

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