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I know it's a big question but i'm a guy who tend to sit all day long on a chair, sometimes without a great posture, arching my back and not sitting straight.

I want to know if there's a key exercise to regain a good posture. Also what are exercises to gain flexibility?

I've look on the internet but there is so much information everywhere don't know where to start. Maybe if you have exercise that target the back at first, that would be a great for a beginning.

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Alexandertechnique – Olav Nov 21 '12 at 22:35
@Olav can you recommend a ressource to learn the Alexander technique? Can I do this by myself or does it require a specialist? – Beginner Aug 21 '14 at 6:55
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Take a look at this article on the "Third World Squat". It will help you identify what the problem areas are from sitting all day.

The problem we see is this:

  • Lack of strength in the posterior chain. You aren't using these muscles while sitting in a chair.
  • Lack of flexibility in the hip flexors, calves, hamstrings
  • Too much flexibility in the glutius maximus.

If you want to stick with body weight exercises, which would be enough to correct this:

  • Start with back extensions (also known as "hypers" or hyperextensions).
  • Next you'll need to start stretching out the problem areas.

From this point you have a couple paths you could go down to maintain good posture and the additional strength you've accumulated to support it. You could either go down the strength training route, or you can go down the pilates route. Pilates provides a combination of body weight exercises designed to improve both flexibility and strength. Strength training provides the ability to strengthen your muscles to the point where slouching is just not possible. It really depends on what suits you best.

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I'm a software developer and also sit all day. I've seen some improvement of my posture doing kettle-bell swings 3 times a week.

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This is probably a good example that if you're completely sedentary, doing any sort of even moderately physically demanding exercise will improve your posture. As long as what you're doing puts enough load on your muscles to stimulate strength gains, your posture will improve. – Robin Ashe Jun 26 '12 at 22:02

I work on a computer all day long and have for the past 10 years, even before then I had horrible posture as a kid. Most of this was due to self esteem and being over weight.

Even after growing up, taking up Karate and working out a ton my posture and self esteem improved a bit but it wasn't "good" yet.

Eventually I made two changes that I feel changed my posture.

  1. I started stronglifts 5x5, I believe it's the fact that I focused on my posture during my squats because well, I didn't want to hurt myself.
  2. I converted my desk at work to a standing desk. My work didn't give me one. I just stacked boxes, little tables, anything I could find to setup the proper height to get it done. While standing I made sure I had my shoulders back properly whenever I remembered.

After about 4 months of both of these I would say my posture is good, if not great and it actually hurts now to slump like I used to.

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No exercise will help you if you sit 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Think about it. You may go to the gym (or exercise at home) 3 times a week for one hour, this is compared to 40 hours a week of sitting.

Recent studies (see eg. this article) suggest that the most effective method is to interrupt sitting often. Standing up from your desk 35 times, spread throughout the day is much more effective at reducing the bad effects than sitting without interruption and then do an exercise program with 35 squats.

It seems that the optimal strategy would be to incorporate a lot of non-exercise activities in your day, supplemented with an exercise program, which can be any sport you like and are motivated in.

Many people will argue that exercise X is better than exercise Y and they may be right, but the truth is, to change your lifestyle, it is not enough to add a few minutes of training before/after your day. You need to look at the how you do your whole day and optimize that. Stand up from your desk at least once in every 30 minutes, stretch your back, arms, legs, a few jumping jacks, a push-up maybe, anything you are able to do.

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