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Simple Posture Exercises for Osteoporosis That Make a Difference

I’m someone who has poor posture— which was made even more evident when filming these exercises!

But what does posture mean, exactly? Simply put, posture is the position of your body when standing or sitting.

Proper posture involves keeping your shoulders back and down, your chin and chest lifted, and your stomach tucked in. When you’re standing, your tailbone should be slightly tucked down too, with your feet hip-width apart and a small bend in your knees.

This will reduce the amount of strain you put on your body’s ligaments and muscles. It can also prevent bad habits like hunching forwards. And in the long run, maintaining proper posture will reduce your risk of injury.

But bad posture can lead to everything from headaches and back pain, to a decreased ability to do physical activity!

So, posture exercises are important at any age, but especially when you’re suffering from low bone density or osteoporosis.

That’s why I put together a list of simple exercises you can practice to improve your posture!

Simple Posture Exercises for Osteoporosis

Shoulder Rolls

Why shoulder rolls?

This exercise is great for relieving shoulder and back tension. Shoulder rolls are a common warm-up exercise in yoga for this very reason. It’s a simple way of melting away the day’s stress, and it also stops you from hunching over!

Here’s how to do the exercise:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position with your eyes gazing forward.
  2. As you inhale, raise your shoulders and shoulder blades up to the back of your ears in a rolling motion.
  3. As you exhale, pull your shoulder blades back down.
  4. Repeat 10 times.
  5. Take a 2-minute break and repeat as needed.

Tailor the exercise to you: This is a gentle exercise, but to take it to the next level, you can perform it standing. Simply stand in a comfortable position with your feet planted shoulder-width apart. If your shoulders already tend to be raised toward your ears, make sure you relax them down before getting started.

Head Press

Why the head press?

The head press is subtle but effective. It relieves tightness in your spine and the muscles of your neck. It also helps align your shoulders and head. As you can see, I tend to lean my head and neck forward naturally. So, I do head presses regularly to correct this!

Here’s how to do the exercise:

  1. Sit comfortably in a well-supported chair.
  2. Move your head straight back as far as you can.
  3. Do not tilt your chin or forehead.
  4. Hold your head in this position for 1-2 seconds.
  5. Relax back into your starting position.
  6. Repeat 10 times.

Tailor the exercise to you: Once again, this is a gentle exercise. But for more of a challenge, you can perform it standing with your feet hip-width apart. You can also do an extra set, so 20 repetitions total, with a short rest between sets.

If you have tight neck muscles, your tendency will be to lean back to compensate. To avoid this and isolate the movement of your head, you can stand against a wall, or press your head back while lying on your bed or couch.

Doorway Stretch

Why the doorway stretch?

If you catch yourself arching forward when sitting or standing, tight chest muscles may be the culprit. This exercise will loosen these muscles and encourage you to stand straight naturally.

To perform this exercise, you can use a doorway or an exercise machine tall enough to act as a stable point (like you’ll see in the video below!).

Here’s how to do the exercise:

  1. Stand in the doorway or next to an exercise machine, and place your arm slightly higher than parallel to the floor with your hand resting flat against the doorframe or post.
  2. Bend your elbow so your fingers are pointing towards the ceiling.
  3. Then, gently lean into your raised arm until you feel a stretch— hold for 8-10 seconds.
  4. Relax your arm back into starting position and go again.
  5. Repeat 2-3 times on each side.

Tailor the exercise for you: To make this exercise more challenging, you can increase the number of repetitions you perform. Just be careful and make sure you listen to your body. This isn’t meant to be a difficult exercise after all. It’s a simple stretch to relieve tension and promote proper posture!

Wall Angel

Why the wall angel?

Ever make snow angels as a kid? Even if you didn’t, you probably know the premise. And wall angels are very similar. You just use a wall instead of a pile of snow!

This exercise helps strengthen your shoulder and back muscles, while also opening up tight chest muscles. So, it’s a powerful tool for improving your posture.

Here’s how to do the exercise:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and your back against a wall— you should feel your head, spine, and glutes resting against the wall.
  2. Maintain a slight bend in your knees.
  3. Bring your arms up with your elbows bent at 90 degrees, and the backs of your hands against the wall. (You should see your upper body form a W.)
  4. Then, slowly bring your arms up until they’re as straight as possible and hold for a couple seconds.
  5. Bring your arms back down to starting position and repeat 10 times.

Tailor the exercise to you: Wall angels are deceptively challenging, so take it slow. If 10 repetitions feels like too many, try doing five to start and work your way up. And as always, consider consulting your medical professional before attempting any new exercise.

Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

Why the kneeling hip flexor stretch?

When it comes to posture, the neck and shoulders get a lot of attention. But poor posture can be caused by the lower spine and hips too! Which is why I included an exercise to stretch out your hip flexors— the muscles just below your hip bones.

Tight hip flexors can not only ruin your posture, but can also cause tightness in the lower back by making your hips tilt forward (an anterior pelvic tilt). Over time, this will also lead to reduced core muscle strength.

Here’s how to do the exercise:

  1. Place your right knee on the floor directly under your right hip (use a mat or a soft surface like a rug to protect your knees). Place your left foot in front of your left hip, so that your knee is directly over your ankle.
  2. Keep your back straight and your spine tall. Rest your left hand on your left thigh to help maintain your balance.
  3. Lean forward into your left hip while keeping your right knee pressed into the ground. Your left knee will come slightly over your ankle.
  4. Hold the stretch for 3-4 seconds, and then return to starting position.
  5. Repeat 10 times, and switch sides.

Tailor the exercise to you: If you want to increase the intensity of this stretch, raise the arm opposite to the hip you’re stretching in the air. Tilt it slightly towards the hip you’re stretching as you lean forward. Do this for both sides!

And for best results, make sure you keep your abdominals engaged throughout this stretch. This will help you keep your pelvis level and your back straight.

Osteoporosis and Posture Exercises Takeaway

Have you ever craned your neck to read a text message? Leaned forward to make out words on a computer screen?

There are so many things we do in this modern age that affect our posture…

And poor posture can have all sorts of negative consequences like Dowager’s Hump or kyphosis. Technically speaking, kyphosis is the forward curvature of the spine that results in a stooped posture.

This condition is typically seen in women with osteoporosis and is caused by the collapse of some of the front edges of the thoracic vertebrae (that’s the middle portion of your spine). The bones become porous and weak and can result in a fracture by simply bending over.

The crazy thing is, most people don’t feel it. That’s why osteoporosis is known as the “silent disease”. But practicing proper posture can help you avoid this unpleasant condition.

It also promotes better balance. When you stand up straight, your weight is centered over your feet. And a stable center of gravity is key to balance. In fact, studies show that proper posture greatly reduces the risk of falls in older adults.

So, you can see why posture exercises are so important for people with osteoporosis!

That said, if you have low bone density, you may need to make adjustments to these exercises. If you’re unsure whether an exercise is safe for you, check with your healthcare provider before trying it.

I hope you find these exercises for improving your posture useful. I know for myself, they’ve helped me overcome my slouching habit! So, give these a try and let me know what you think…

And if you have any other posture promoting exercises or tips you’d like to share, please leave a comment below!

Author: Monica Straith, BS

Monica is the PR and Outreach Manager and Fitness Lead at AlgaeCal. She’s an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Specialist, and has a B.S. and B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she played varsity soccer for four years. Monica pulls from her experience in athletics and health to contribute to AlgaeCal and has also been featured on myfitnesspal blog, Prevention, and Huffington Post.