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4 Ways to Improve Posture

It’s never too late to improve your posture. Personal trainer and movement specialist Nick Holt shows us how with straightforward advice and exercises.

Remove the Logjam

In a culture where we’re so action and achievement focused, it’s easy to forget about the obvious. Stop doing the thing that’s giving you pain or making the problem worse.

When it comes to improving posture, sitting is by far the #1 offender that I see.

Instead of looking for the magic solution (the perfect stand-up desk or the newest tech gadget), start with the obvious and try to sit a little bit less.

Try any of the following:

  • Rig up a make-shift standing desk. (When traveling, David makes a standing desk by placing a couple suitcases on a hotel desk.)
  • Take a few phone calls throughout the day standing or, better yet, walking.
  • Maybe swap out the couch and spend 10-15 minutes sitting on the ground while watching TV?
  • Or better yet, why not offset sitting while watching TV with this couch stretch below 

Move Your Spine Daily

Spinal waves – https://vimeo.com/684766258/a67343aa6d 

You are only as healthy as your spine. If you lose the ability to move your spine properly, it will be easier to get stuck in bad posture and put more stress on your back, increasing the chances of getting hurt. 

On the flip side, when you have full range of motion in all parts of the spine, your posture will improve and you’ll be better protected from injury.

The key with this exercise is to try and move each part of the spine with control.

Most people move the spine as one unit. I want you to try and move segmentally like you see in the video. Think of moving through 3 parts of the spine:  the upper, middle, and lower. 

Try to be as fluid as possible and move your spine like a wave.

Improve Hip Strength and Flexibility

The muscles in and around the hip are the biggest and most powerful in the body. Unfortunately for most people, these muscles are extremely weak and tight. 

Tight and weak hip muscles can often lead to back pain and poor posture. 

PSA – Stretching a tight, weak muscle is a terrible idea. That muscle is tight BECAUSE it is weak. It’s your nervous system saying, “Hey wait a minute, I don’t have the strength to control this motion; I’m going to create stability and keep you safe by creating muscle tone (tightness).” If your hamstrings are chronically tight and you’ve been stretching them for years without much improvement, you know what I mean.

Instead of spending an hour stretching your hamstrings, try a few of the below exercises to create strong and flexible hips.

Half kneeling – https://vimeo.com/567538422/9489c29ba7

The goal here is to lengthen the hip flexors while also engaging the glutes.

And then try for 10-12 reps of the split squat below to lengthen and strengthen those hip flexors. 

Split Squat – 2 variations – https://vimeo.com/698368029/4d3d52db86

Get Assessed by a Professional

A shoulder injury 10 years ago could be causing imbalances affecting the way you stand and making your posture worse.

A sprained ankle in high school that wasn’t rehabbed properly might contribute to poor posture.

Or maybe you played or currently play a one-side dominant sport like tennis or golf that can make these imbalances worse.

Having a professional look at the way you move and assess your joints will provide a huge shortcut to actually making progress with not only your posture, but also your overall movement quality. 

Two qualifications I would look for in a personal trainer or physical therapist would be either a SFMA credential or anyone who is FRC certified. 

Instead of blindly following a random YouTube stretch, you’ll know your limitations and how to correct them. 

As a FRC-ms certified trainer, you can reach out to me here or at nick@nickholtfit.com if you have any questions.

One Last Thing – It’s Never Too Late!

And of course, I always get the question: Is it too late? No, it’s not.

Can you really change after decades and decades of bad posture?

My answer is a definitive yes!

At 80 and beyond you might have some biological limitations, but I’m 100% convinced that if you’re in your 50s, 60s, or 70s, you can make meaningful improvements by following the above 4 steps.

Nick Holt is a personal trainer and movement specialist focusing on helping men over 40 move, look, and feel better. Surfing transformed his body from a debilitating back injury and got him in the best shape of his life in his 40s. He uses the principles of surfing, functional mobility, and strength training to help guys over 40 get in the best shape of their lives. 

Based out of Tamarindo, Costa Rica, Nick works with clients in person and also trains clients online through his various remote coaching programs. You can grab a free copy of his 7 Habits to Get Fit and Stay Fit After 40 guide here.

1 COMMENT

  1. Hi Nick! I was surprised that you did not include some upper back extension to strengthen, often quite weak from the forward head posture our present-day living style leads us into. Let,s face it, when are we in full extension, except gazing up at the moon? I find it to be such a joyful counter movement, opening the heart and throat 🙂

    ps: I applaud your comment regarding stretching a tight weak muscle that really needs strengthening!

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