5 Stretches to Help Improve Your Posture

06/05/2014 at 01:57 PM ET

5 stretches for better posture
Courtesy Health.com

When it comes to fitness, we all talk a lot about cardio and strength training while ignoring a huge part of overall health—flexibility! Stretching will not only make you limber, it can alleviate back pain and improve your posture.

Not sure where to begin? Take a tip from physical therapist Jason Whitman, owner of Positive Physical Therapy in Santa Monica, California. Whitman created this stretching routine that can improve your fitness and better your health.

1. Wall angels (pictured above)
Get into a wall sit position (squat with your back against a wall) and rest your arms against the wall with your elbows bent at 90 degrees. Bring your shoulders back, and retract your shoulder blades trying to touch them together. Keeping your shoulder blades together, move your arms up and down the wall. Wall angels strengthen your scapular retractors—the muscles between your shoulder blades—and they also work your chest muscles and core.

2. Thoracic spine opener
Lie on your side, placing your top knee on a foam roller next to you. From this position, take your top arm and windmill it over to the opposite side, opening up your chest and touching your back shoulder to the ground. Remember to keep your knee on the foam roller the entire time. After stretching one side, switch to the other. This stretch helps your thoracic mobility, reducing stress on your lumbar and cervical spine regions.

5 stretches for better posture
Courtesy Health.com

3. Quadraped core activation with reach
Get into a tabletop position placing a Swiss ball between you and a wall. Push your glutes back into the ball, and extend your right arm out in front of you. Hold for 10 seconds before switching arms. This stretch will activate your core, teaching you to engage your core while keeping your spine neutral.

5 stretches for better posture
Courtesy Health.com

4. Hip flexor stretch
Get down on one knee in a resting lunge position. Engage your abs and push your hips forward, raising your arm (the one opposite your front knee) above your head. Sink into the stretch. The hip flexor stretch helps relieve lower back pain while loosening up your hips.

5 stretches for better posture
Courtesy Health.com

5. Latissimus dorsi stretch
For this stretch, you will need to use a TRX band or a heavy resistance band wrapped around a pull-up bar. (If you don’t have a resistance band, try using a door jam like I did here.) Holding both straps, sit back so that your arms are fully extended. Leaning forward, twist your torso to the left so that you are looking under your left arm. Next, step your left leg behind you and over toward your right side. Hold this stretch, and then switch directions. This stretch allows your scapula to rotate upwards, and increases your range of motion.

5 stretches for better posture
Courtesy Health.com

Looking for more ways to stretch? Check out 4 Things You Need To Know About Foam Rolling.

Jennifer Cohen is a leading fitness authority, TV personality, best-selling author, and entrepreneur. With her signature, straight-talking approach to wellness, Jennifer was the featured trainer on The CW’s Shedding for the Wedding, mentoring the contestants’ to lose hundreds of pounds before their big day, and she appears regularly on NBC’s Today Show, Extra, The Doctors and Good Morning America. Connect with Jennifer on FacebookTwitterG+ and on Pinterest.


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FILED UNDER: Expert Tips , Fitness , Health

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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms
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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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On a clear day, you can see forever—or at least that’s the wicked thought behind L.A. designer Agi Berliner’s transparent idea: see-through jeans. Exhibitionists notwithstanding, most folks wear them over bathing suits or as attention-getting evening wear with halters, garter belts and body stockings. Created for the disco crowd, the $34 jeans are selling like, well, hot pants. In just six weeks, 25,000 pairs have already been sold in such major department store chains as Macy’s, Bonwit’s and Saks.

“What’s limiting American designers is that we’re afraid to do something different,” says Berliner, 32, a Hungarian émigré who fled with her family to the U.S. in 1956. Agi thought up the gimmick in London while marveling at the way plastics were being employed by designers of punk fashion. In her L.A. office, where she designs for La Parisienne junior sportswear, Agi spent five days on the phone and six weeks testing to come up with the right plastic.

Agi herself tried out the French-cut jeans with the zipper in front, and quickly found several problems: Some plastics tore away from stitching, others wouldn’t bend and all fogged with perspiration. The ideal material proved to be a vinyl supplied by a bookbinder. The steam was eliminated with a series of vents behind the knees and in the crotch. “They’re no hotter than polyester pants,” claims Agi, “and if you wear them with tights, they won’t stick to your legs.”

Whatever the discomfort and despite the problem of Saturday night feverishness, discomaniacs report one major advantage of the plastic pants: no laundry bills. To keep Berliner’s see-through jeans clear, all the wearer needs is a little Windex.

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