10 Simple Stretches Every Day to Improve Your Posture

Improve Your Posture and Age Well with These Daily 10 Stretches
4 mins read
Stretches to improve your posture

Poor posture becomes a more prevalent problem as you age. Maintaining a slumped posture with rounded shoulders can not only cause pain and dysfunction for the musculoskeletal system, it can also make it hard to take full, deep breaths (1).

But good posture is often more of a buzzword or colloquial term than it is a scientific measurement. There is no uniform standard for good posture. In fact, some “poor postures” might actually be good postures, depending on the situation.

That being said, we can say with confidence that the postures sustained for 8+ hours per day by office workers, students, and others who sit and type a lot are not ideal. Keeping the shoulders rounded and the chin jutted forward is a recipe for disastrous health consequences.

Thankfully, fixing your posture is as easy as performing a few key total body stretches (2). There are tons of different stretches available for improving posture. If you were to perform a Google search on the best postural stretches, you’d find a nearly endless list. It’s often a matter of clinician preference when it comes to which stretches are “best”. 

Below, I’ll highlight a few of my favorite go-to posture stretches. If you find that these stretches don’t seem to help you, it may be that you need a more personalized approach to your individual goals. I recommend meeting with a qualified healthcare provider, such as a physical therapist, if you have any questions or concerns! But this list is a great place to start if you are attempting to improve your posture.

10 Best Stretches to Improve Your Posture As You Age

10 Best Stretches to Improve Your Posture As You Age

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1. Cat-Cow


If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, you’re probably familiar with the cat-cow stretch. This move is perfect for improving posture, spinal mobility, and overall flexibility.

How to Perform

  • Start on hands and knees.
  • As you breathe in, allow your stomach to sag as you simultaneously extend your head up and back.
  • When you breathe out, round your back and tuck your chin to your chest.
  • Continue to alternate between these positions with every breath for a total of 1 minute. Complete 1-2 sets of this exercise daily.

2. Thoracic Spine Opener

Side-Lying T-Spine Rotation

The thoracic spine, aka the mid-back, is a key area related to posture. If this region is tight, it is difficult to move the shoulders or neck comfortably. The thoracic spine opener is a great way to improve rotation in this body area.

How to Perform

  • Lie on your right side with your legs stacked on top of one another. 
  • Lift your left arm up, keeping your legs in the same position, and rotate to your left until your shoulder blades are flat on the floor. 
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat 4 times per side. Repeat 1-2 times per day.

3. Prayer Lat Stretch

On the slides and back of your body, you’ll find your latissimus dorsi muscles. Simply called “the lats” these muscles are tight on many people. The prayer stretch can loosen them up in just a few minutes.

How to Perform

  • Start on hands and knees.
  • Then, place your elbows on the ground and attempt to bring your chest down to the ground, allowing your elbows to rise up toward your ears. 
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat 4 times per session, 1-2 sessions per day.

4. Down Dog

Much like cat-cow, down dog is a staple of yoga classes. This move is amazing for the entire spine and lower body.

How to Perform

  • Place your hands and toes on the ground in a pushup position.
  • Next, “pike” your hips up in the air, and imagine you are pushing your chest toward your ankles.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat 4 times per session, 1-2 times per day. 

5. Neck Rolls

Neck pain is an all-too-common issue today. Many office workers and people who sit a lot will often experience a bout or two of neck pain in their lifetimes. By carefully rolling out the neck each day, you can keep this important area of the body loose and mobile. 

How to Perform

  • In standing or sitting, assume a straight-backed posture.
  • Slowly, bend your chin to your chest.
  • Next, roll your head toward the right, making a circle until you’ve returned to the starting position. 
  • Complete 10 rolls to the right and 10 rolls to the left 1-2 times per day.

6. Thoracic Rolls

Neck rolls are a fairly common stretch, but thoracic rolls are lesser known. This exercise isolates the thoracic spine and helps to promote blood flow and mobility in this area. 

How to Perform

  • Cross your arms over your chest (essentially giving yourself a hug).
  • Next, keeping your low back and neck as still as you can, rotate your spine at the thoracic region.
  • Perform 10 rolls to the left and 10 to the right, 1-2 times per day.

7. Bridges

Bridges are a particularly useful exercise, as they promote both flexibility and strength throughout the core region. 

How to Perform

  • Lie flat on your back with your feet on the floor and your knees bent.
  • Press your heels into the ground and lift your buttocks into the air.
  • Hold this position for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times per session, 1-2 times per day. 

8. Active Cobra

The traditional cobra provides a good stretch for the back and abdomen. The active cobra incorporates an active movement from the shoulders. This gives you more bang for your buck during your exercise session!

How to Perform

  • Start flat on your stomach, with your hands by your shoulders.
  • Push yourself up slightly onto your forearms, then attempt to “squeeze” your shoulder blades together.
  • Hold this position for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times per session, 1-2 times per day.

9. Lunge Twist

Twisting movements are awesome for increasing mobility and flexibility. This is especially true when they are combined with an incredibly effective mobility exercise like lunges.

How to Perform

  • Assume a lunge position, with your right foot forward and your left knee on the ground.
  • Twist toward your right side.
  • Hold this position for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times per side, 1-2 times per day.

10. Fish

The fish stretch is seldom seen in yoga classes, but it should be included more! This move is excellent for loosening up the shoulders and upper back. 

How to Perform

  • Lie on your back with your legs out straight.
  • Place your forearms on the ground and prop yourself up, attempting to push your chest toward the ceiling.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat 4 times per session, 1-2 times per day. 

The Final Take On Posture Stretches

Good posture is an important component of health. Unfortunately, our lifestyles often encourage poor posture for extended periods of time every day. For this reason, it’s important that you be proactive, and implement a good stretching routine before you develop some serious health issues.

Works Cited

  1. Zafar H, Albarrati A, Alghadir AH, Iqbal ZA. Effect of Different Head-Neck Postures on the Respiratory Function in Healthy Males. Biomed Res Int. 2018 Jul 12;2018:4518269. doi: 10.1155/2018/4518269. PMID: 30112389; PMCID: PMC6077663.
  2. Kim D, Cho M, Park Y, Yang Y. Effect of an exercise program for posture correction on musculoskeletal pain. J Phys Ther Sci. 2015 Jun;27(6):1791-4. doi: 10.1589/jpts.27.1791. Epub 2015 Jun 30. PMID: 26180322; PMCID: PMC4499985.

Bennett Richardson, DPT, PT, CSCS

Bennett Richardson, based in Pittsburgh, PA, is a dedicated physical therapist and writer. Certified as a strength and conditioning coach (CSCS) since 2014, he holds a BS in exercise science and a doctorate in physical therapy, both from Slippery Rock University. Beyond his professional pursuits, Bennett enjoys leisurely reading and staying active.


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