Posture Exercises

By Sally Ann Quirke, Chartered Physiotherapist | Filed under: Good Posture


Pilates Posture Exercises
Pilates Core Strengthening Exercises can help maintain a good posture

There are many individual posture exercises that you can do to both improve your posture as well as alleviating and preventing any back pain.

There are also many posture-related exercise programmes that you may already be familiar with - Pilates, Yoga and the Alexander Technique being just three of the most popular.

Each of these exercise systems place a lot of emphasis on becoming more “posture aware” - helping you to go easily towards your ideal posture with the minimum amount of “work”.

I myself am a Pilates Instuctor as well as Physiotherapist, so I normally provide my clients who experience posture-related back pain with an individualised exercised programs. These exercises work on strengthening the core muscles and postural muscles, but also to help correct any postural problems or movement patterns the patient may have.

As a bad posture ALWAYS undoes any exercise benefits very quickly, it is always necessary to first work with the client on achieving and maintaining good posture.

The main posture programmes that I advise are:

  1. Pilates

    Which is an exercise programme designed to teach you where the correct position for your posture type, and then provides a series of exercises that are designed to strengthen your core muscles. Through the repetition of these exercises, your posture will improve and you will find it more natural to hold your body correctly and with less effort.
    Pilates is my own exercise programme of choice, and we run 14 classes a week of this programme in my clinic with great results (you may also be interested in reading about Pilates during Pregnancy).

  2. Alexander technique

    Is a technique that teaches you to become aware of where the tension lies in your body. Once this has been recognised, it will teach you how to first release this tension and then to sit, stand, lie and move in a way that creates less tension in your body. This is a very effective posture-improving technique for many people.

  3. Yoga

    Although yoga is often associated with spiritual meditative practices of eastern religions it is also effective in both uniting and controlling posture and movement through exercises and concentration. Yoga can be very effective for back pain - but this very much depends on the precise nature of your back pain. I would recommend that you have a good understanding of the cause of your back injury before you embark on yoga program (you may also wish to find out more on the difference between yoga and pilates as well as Yoga for Sciatica and Yoga for Scoliosis).

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However, before you embark on any of the above posture-related exercise programmes, you can start to become more posture-aware while standing, sitting and lying down.

  1. Standing posture exercise

    • Stand with your feet hip distance apart while facing forwards.
    • Your knees should be “soft” - not bent or locked.
    • Your pelvis should be in its mid position (not thrusting forward, not sticking backwards).
    • Your shoulder blades should be gently held downwards.
    • Your head should be directly over your spine.
    • Imagine a helium balloon coming out the top of your head lengthening you towards the ceiling.
  2. Sitting posture exercise:

    • Sit with your feet hip distance apart while facing forwards.
    • Your knees should be slightly lower than your hips.
    • Your pelvis should be in its mid-position and not slumped.
    • Your shoulder blades should be gently held downwards.
    • Your head should be over your neck and looking straight forwards.
    • Do not “poke” your chin.
    • Imagine a helium balloon coming from the top of your head lengthening you towards the ceiling.
  3. Posture exercise for when Lying down

Not an exercise as such, but good practice to adopt, particularly if you have neck pain -

  • Lie with your spine supported in its natural posture as much as possible.
  • Avoid beds that are too soft or too hard.
  • Use an orthopaedic pillow (one of many pillows to help neck pain) where possible.
  • If you do not have an orthopaedic pillow, snug your pillow into your neck to support its curve as well as possible.

Posture awareness and the related exercises are really easy to carry out once they are taught correctly. I have found with my clients that they can change your symptoms in just minutes for many back and neck pain conditions.


While the content and materials contained in the articles on this website have been written & researched by Sally Ann Quirke, a professional, practising & fully qualified Chartered Physiotherapist (Physical Therapist) based in Ireland, they are provided for general information and educational purposes only. They do not constitute medical advice on any particular individual situation. Please see your Chartered Physiotherapist or other medical practitioner for full and individual consultation.

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