4 ballet dancer-approved exercises to improve your posture while working from home
Feel like you’re getting stiff and achy these days? These ballet moves are great for posture and strength-building and only require a chair and a mat.
While working from home can have many benefits, your fitness and physical health can sometimes take a hit. Spending every day at home means that lack of movement and proper posture can creep in quickly, and your muscles and joints will soon begin to feel the effects. It’s so important to make the most of this time at home, and look after your body and health in new ways.
Bad posture is a common side effect of working from home – if you’re working from a laptop or without a good quality chair, your neck, shoulders and back can bear the brunt. Improving your posture will not only be beneficial to your appearance, but also to your long-term health, and will prevent you from wreaking permanent damage.
Rhea Sheedy has trained at the Royal Academy of Dance and is the founder of Ballet Fusion, a fitness company blending traditional ballet techniques with elements of yoga and pilates. “Good posture really comes from core strength – not just the abs which we often think of as the ‘core’, but which also includes the back, hips and glutes as well as abdominal muscles. We weaken our posture and get into bad habits with our sedentary lifestyles – especially if we work sitting at a desk all day long,” she explains.
Here, she shares four key exercises that you can do from home to improve your posture. All you need is a chair or a barre to get started.
This one looks simple but the exercise will force your body into a perfect posture hold.
- Standing facing a barre or chair.
- Feet in first (toes turned out and heels together)
- Squeeze the butt, engage the stomach muscles, relax the shoulders and think about growing tall through the top of the head.
- Lift one foot up and place it just under the knee cap – turning the lifted knee out towards the side
- Now hold everything strong and lift your arms off the barre holding them in front of you in first position. Keep the shoulders relaxed.
- Hold the position for 5-to-20 seconds and then repeat on the other leg.
- Do as many reps as possible and repeat the exercise as often as you can.
Port de Bras
Port de Bras translates to ‘carriage of the arms’ but posture is key to this exercise. There are many variations but this simple one is a lovely posture improver.
- Stand with your heels together, toes turned out to the corners, legs straight, squeeze the butt, engage the abdominals and lower the shoulders.
- Bring the arms up to first, out to 2nd and breathe in. Fold forwards, dropping the arms and head and exhaling as you go.
- Roll up through the spine and reset your posture checks. Repeat this four times.
- Rise up, bringing the arms overhead and breathe in (legs straight, butt squeezed, abs engaged, shoulders down)
- Lower the heels and arms – breathe out, keeping your posture strong. Repeat this 4 times.
Note: The breathing is important here as it will help to keep your spine long and muscles expanded.
Down Dog to High Plank & Child’s Pose
This is a lovely exercise to strengthen and stretch the core – helping to correct alignment issues and build strength.
- Hold a down dog position for 8 seconds. Pull shoulders down and away from the ears, look down or through the legs and push the hips high whilst driving heels down towards the floor.
- Move your shoulders forwards over your hands into a high plank. Hold for 8 seconds.
- Gently lower the knees to the floor, and leaving your hands where they are, push your bottom back onto your heels. Drop the head and enjoy this lovely big stretch.
- Repeat this whole routine 4 to 8 times.
Ballet Chest Lift
- Laying flat on the floor on your front. Bring your arms to 5th position overhead (fingertips nearly touching, shoulders pulled down away from the ears and palms inwards)
- Keeping the neck straight and free of tension and squeezing the butt, lift the chest off the floor and lower.
- 5 to 8 reps of these a few times a week will help to strengthen the back, which often gets overlooked and is key to better posture.