Sit up Straight

Sit up straight – five of the best dynamic posture exercises

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Try these exercises at home or the gym to help improve your posture and help you sit and stand up straight.  If you sit at a desk  and are experiencing back, neck, upper limb pain or headaches,  these exercises could be beneficial to you.

If you have a medical condition or injury consult your Physiotherapist before doing these exercises.  You should not experience any discomfort with the exercises.

1. Reverse lunge (hip opener) with thoracic rotation

Most of us spend too much time sitting down, which shortens our anterior hip muscles (a group of muscles that attach to the front of pelvis in various ways – namely the hip-flexors, quadriceps and psoas). If you lose range of hip extension with tight anterior hip muscles, you place additional strain on the lower back when walking and standing.


Step backwards in to a lunge position, keeping your lower tummy muscles and buttock muscles gentle squeezed to protect your lower back and to isolate the movement to the hips and mid back. Bring your arms to ninety degrees and rotate through your mid back to the left and right and finishing by bringing your arms above your hips keep facing forwards.

You can add weights to the arms.

2/3. Shoulder stretcher or ‘Lying angels’

Many of our daily activities, such as driving or working on a computer, involve reaching forward with our hands, causing our shoulders to roll forwards and our chest muscles (pectorals) to shorten and tighten. The pectorals can also get very tight when performing certain exercises involving weight bearing on your hands, such as press ups, planks and cycling.

This exercise is designed to dynamically lengthen your pectorals. The foam roller allows your shoulder blades to move freely and your arms to travel further back, creating a deeper stretch.


Lie on a foam roller and open your arms out in to a dinner fork position (90 degrees shoulder and elbow). Keep your lower back in contact with the roller at all times and gently pull in your lower tummy muscles. Move the arms up and down.

This exercise can be done in a standing position and is called then a ‘wall angel’.

*Caution if you have any history of shoulder instability or dislocations, please do not do this exercise.

4. Dead bug

Sitting slouched at a desk for long hours can lead to shortening of your abdominals which can pull your chest and shoulders down, contributing to a hunch back posture (kyphosis).

With this in mind the dead bug is a good alternative to abdominal crunches. It will strengthen your abdominals whilst opening your legs and arms, reversing your desk posture.


Lay flat on your back with your arms up so they are level with your shoulders. Bend your knees to a 90 degree angle and raise your thighs until they are perpendicular to the floor. Now deeply exhale and embrace your abs to bring your ribcage down and flatten you back onto the floor, keep your lower back in contact with the floor throughout the exercise.

Lower the right arm and the left leg down to the floor simultaneously before the lower back starts to rise off the ground or arch.  Slowly return to the starting position while inhaling and alternate to the other side.
The most important objective is to maintain position of your lumbar and pelvis throughout the exercise. If you are unable to control your lower back position, the exercise may need modified for you. Please ask us for advice.

You can make the exercise harder by adding weights to the arms or legs, using both legs or arms at the same time and or by bringing them closer to the ground.

5. TRx reverse flies

This exercise  requires a TRx so, unless you own one,  may be limited to the gym. It is great for strengthening the upper back and helping open up shoulders, which is particularly important for busy professionals who work on a computer all day. It is an advanced exercise so you will need to have good upper body strength and core stability.


With a slight angle towards the ground, start out holding the TRX handles with your arms extended. Slowly pull the handles away from your body on both sides while keeping your arms straight, so that the top of the repetition, your arms form a “Y”.

The more you lean back, the harder this exercise becomes. This is a difficult exercise, so you don’t need to create much of an angle. Your body can be nearly upright when you start the exercise.

Article by Martine Cooper, Chartered Physiotherapist.

Exercises demonstrated by Paul Brookland-Williams BSc (Hons), Chartered Physiotherapist at London City Pilates , Pilates Instructor, Personal trainer and Rehabilitation Specialist.

Posted in Exercises, Posture, Stretches.