This post will help you learn how to have great posture. 

For starters, imagine that your pelvis, ribcage, and head are like a child’s wooden playing blocks. Are they level and aligned? Does their positioning set you up nice and tall, or crush and grind?

Collapsed posture compromises the alignment of your bones from the center to the periphery of your extremities. This impacts the quality and efficiency of your movement, breath, digestion, circulation, and elimination. It often leads to uncomfortable muscular imbalances.

To better understand how to generate excellent posture, here are some details on your spine you should know.

Know Your Spinal Curves to Get Great Posture

The spine has five natural curves. The cervical (neck) spine curves toward the front of the body, the thoracic (ribcage) spine curves back, the lumbar (lower back) spine curves forward, the sacrum lifts slightly back, and the coccyx (tailbone) tucks slightly forward as well.  

Have a look at the image on the right–this is a side view of your spine.

Now self-reflect: Is your spine curvy or does it have flat spots? Look at yourself sideways in the mirror. Or better yet, ask someone to take a picture of you. 

Stand as you normally do, so the camera doesn’t lie! Then realign your ‘blocks’ (pelvis, ribcage, and head) to stand as upright as possible. Take another picture. How does this more aligned posture look and feel?

To check posture from the side view, a plumb line is often a good way to see what’s happening. Ideally, the center of the side of the ear should line up with the center of the sides of the shoulder, hip, and ankle. 

 

Physios and athletic therapists often assess a patient’s posture using this simple visual.

Poor Posture Cues from Childhood

What are we so often told about posture when we’re young? Stand up straight, don’t slouch, and keep your shoulders back! These cues are easily misinterpreted. 

For example, if you always pull your shoulders back, you may be creating tension in the upper back. Instead, I like to imagine that the outer points of my shoulders are supported evenly as if resting on a clothes hanger. 

As they rest, they spread outward, widening the clavicles (collarbones) and making space between the scapulae (shoulder blades).

Spinal Massage and Mobility Exercises  for Great Posture

Now let’s take a look at some rolling techniques on a Coregeous® sponge ball for improving your posture.

Posture Technique #1: The Neck (Cervical)  Spine

Lie down on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor. Imagine that you have taken that tower of a child’s building blocks and carefully laid it down without changing the relationship between the blocks.

Place a Coregeous® ball behind your head at the base of your skull. This is called the occiput. 

Breathe deeply and slowly while releasing the weight of your head into the soft support of the ball. You might want to adjust how much air is in the ball; less is better for this.

After about a minute, slowly nod your head “yes” while inhaling as you lift the chin, and exhaling as you lower it. Do this 5-10 times. Whenever I do this I say, “Yes! I love to care for my spine!” 

Now slowly move your head to one side as you inhale, back to the center as you exhale. Alternate slowly to each side. This is where I say “No! I don’t like pain.”

Come back to rest in the center and notice if your neck feels longer. You may have just opened up a little space in your cervical spine!

Remove the ball and rest for a few moments.

Posture Technique #2: The Sacrum and Lower Back

Gently place the ball under your sacrum. Once again, simply allow your bodyweight to release into the ball and breathe deeply for one minute. Locate two points of anatomical reference–your sternum (breastbone) and the pubic bone. 

Inhale and lengthen the space between these two points by arching to a gentle back extension with an anterior tilt of the pelvis. Exhale, draw those same two points closer together curving into small spinal flexion with the pelvis in a posterior tilt. Repeat 5-10 times. 

Rest for a few breaths and then gently move sideways (right to left) 5-10 times. Let the ball give you a soothing massage on the lower back and hips. 

Lift your hips just enough to remove the ball and notice how your lower back feels. 

Posture Technique #3: The Ribcage and Thoracic  Spine

The thoracic (ribcage) spine is an area that is naturally less mobile than the neck or lower back because it is attached to the ribcage. 

It is also an area that gets tight and sore from a variety of activities: sitting, lengthy computer time, cell phone usage, driving a car, carrying babies, or having an occupation such as dental hygiene, cooking or hairstyling that requires bending forward. 

Over time this can negatively affect your bones, soft tissues, and breathing. 

Here’s a great way to loosen up your thoracic (or ribcage) spine. 

Nestle the Coregeous® ball under your upper back, between the shoulder blades. Lay on the floor, knees bent, feet touching the ground. Interlace your hands to support your head. 

Breathe while feeling your ribs expand on the inhale and release on the exhale in all directions for one or two minutes. Next, slide up and down on the ball a few times, by pushing into your legs and feet. 

Then, try sliding sideways across the ball. 

Here’s one more that I love! Inhale and gently arch your back, exhale and do a mini abdominal crunch. 

Now remove the ball and again, simply rest on the floor, sensing what has changed.

To finish, stand up and practice your upright posture once again. Is it easier to “stand up straight” now?

I hope that these practices will help you free up all those tight tissues, breathe better and put you on the path to better posture for a lifetime!

 

Shop this post: To practice the back mobility exercises get the Coregeous® ball.

 

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I have always maintained that what we do today impacts our tomorrows and believe strongly that proper nutrition, movement, exercise, stress management and relationship building is crucial to health and wellness. My trilingual childhood (English, French and German) childhood was spent studying ballet and riding horses. I studied dance at Université de Montreal and taught Ballet Jazz, Aqua Fit, Pre-Natal, Fitness and CPR through the 80's. It was at this time that I learnt how to play tennis, ski and windsurf. I loved teaching and quickly realized the importance of being able to move with ease and grace through good posture and movement patterns, thereby reducing the risk of injury. I did leave the dance industry for 14 years to develop my business skills as a Realtor, which eventually led me to an opportunity in 2002 to join the fitness world and become a personal trainer. I immersed myself in every course I could take! BOSU®, speed, strength, endurance posture- I even became a track and field coach! My thirst for learning was unquenchable! The human body is fascinating and I love learning about it every day. The next logical step was to complete a 500hr Yoga teacher training course at Naada Yoga in Montreal. This is where I was first introduced to Yoga Tune Up® at a weekend workshop with Dawn Mauricio. As I love water sports, I also am certified to teach SUP Yoga and now having completed the Level 1 teacher training with Todd Lavictoire, Breath and Bliss with Jill Miller and Core Integration Immersion with Lisa , I am inspired to delve into every aspect Yoga Tune Up® and Jill Miller has to offer. I teach weekly classes at my home studio, at the West Island Cancer Wellness Center, for the town of St. Lazare and at Studio 462 in Hudson. Come try one! I am honored to be part of a network of such well trained professionals and I am excited to learn and share all this with you, helping you be Fit and Well........for a Lifetime!

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Matty Espino

Love the tips! It’s interesting to think how our poor posture can not only be influenced by our own habits, but generally how to are improperly trained on what “proper” posture is supposed to be. I’m curious to explore more about this Coregeous ball and what we can do with it. Thanks!

wendy

good standing posture can prevent us from so much chronic pain, i have learned to become familiar with skeleton structure, including spine, pelvic, and leg, by body assessing other bodies and my own body, i am much more aware of how i am standing and was able to correct myself.

Jenny

Thanks for the tips! I can’t wait to get a Coregeous ball and try these exercises. I’m in YTU level 1 training now. I’ve retrained my posture over the last few years after a childhood as a gymnast. It has helped immensely, but I have more to go. I’m looking forward to adding your exercises to my routine to see if I can help free up my middle back. Thanks again!

Marg

Thanks for the reminder about the rib cage and thoracic spine massage with the Coregeous ball and the help with breathing. A gentle great tension release and makes more room for the breath for anyone who spends too much time slumped over a computer, phone, steering wheel.

Margaret Hillier

Thanks for the reminder about the rib cage and thoracic spine message and how it also helps with breathing. A great tension release for anyone who spends too much time slumped over a computer, phone or steering wheel. Your routine is something we all would benefit from

Daniel Zachrisson

The stacked block visual is such a great analogy on how to stack everything. I like the feeling of the Coregeous ball on the back, I usually roll using the original size balls, but this feels so much nicer.

Dominique Lim

Oftentimes we think of simple adjusting the chest and shoulders to ‘stand up straight’, thank you for sharing that it is much more than that!

Jessica Palmer-Gwaltney

I love that these three supine exercises and how they combine to create more space in these neglected areas to help address posture issues. The stacked block imagery is helpful when standing and when supine. It’s also nice to see the Coregeous ball used in different ways!

Ana Rodriguez

Very helpful information, Thanks for the article and the willing to spread the love by teaching others, new ways to take care of themselves.

Jasmine Ellemo

Thanks for taking the time to read this Ana!

Vera

I’m such a fan of the Coregeous® Ball. Thanks for highlighting it as a gentle method to build awareness through our spinal curvatures.

Jasmine Ellemo

You are most welcome Vera, it really does feel great to work with our body’s natural curves this way!

Jasmine Ellemo

Sara, the Coregeous Ball is now an integral part of the Restorative classes I lead as well. I also always bring one with me when I’m travelling, especially on airplanes!

Sara M

Thank you Jasmine for highlighting the importance of good posture. I especially appreciate the imagery of resting your shoulders on a coat hanger (beautiful and effective). I often roll my cervical spine and occiput with 2 alpha balls in a tote, but this was my first time using a Coregeous ball instead. It’s a nice gentle alternative. I also enjoy using my Coregeous ball to roll my thoracic spine and like to use it as a prop in Ardha Savasana (a gentler version of supported fish). Great sequence.

PATRICIA DUANE

My personal observation is that the majority of us have poor posture so it is great to see these easy exercises with a ball to correct our stance. thank you

Jasmine Ellemo

Better posture usually means less pain!

benedikte handal

i think these exercises and awareness of the spine should go straight into physical educations at all schools. Especially in this age of time where all youth suffers bad postures and non awarness of there spine due to way to much time infront of computer, cell phones video games etc.

Jasmine Ellemo

You make an inportant point here Benedikte!

Stephanie

Oh I’ve tried these exercises and I have to say . . . little moves with big impact. 100% have worked these into my routine. Thank you Jasmine and TUF Team for another great article.

Jasmine Ellemo

Thanks for the your feedback, Stephanie! I’m happy to hear that this info is helpful!