20 Best Posture Stretches, Recommended by Posture Pros

20 Best Posture Stretches, Recommended by Posture Pros

Poor posture often causes chronic pain and can lead to long-term health issues, while good posture offers a host of benefits, from better health to a taller, slimmer appearance and even increased confidence. Posture stretches are a great way to help train your body to sit, stand, walk and run with proper posture. Here’s why stretching works, plus 20 stretches you can do to improve your posture today.

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  • Can stretching improve your posture?
  • Posture stretches may relieve hunchback, text neck and other postural issues
  • Stretching is part of a good posture improvement program
  • Identify the right stretches for your postural condition
  • 20 best stretches for posture
  • When to do posture stretches

Can stretching improve your posture?

Yes, stretching can help improve your posture. Bad posture misaligns your spine and stresses supporting muscles and ligaments, causing pain. Over time, your body conforms to poor posture, exacerbating the situation. Good posture puts the body in natural balance. 

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“Posture represents an ever-changing series of habits and positional adjustments that are learned by the brain over time in a process called neuromuscular facilitation. As we tend to hold our bodies in certain positions, the amount of activation of our muscles can persist as a default position,” says Dr. Zev Nevo, Founder and Medical Director of Nevo Sports and Spine in Los Angeles. “Over time, this can cause discomfort and even pain as the threshold for loading forces is reached.”

A person stretching

Your emotional state can also affect your posture, especially regarding your body’s response to physical or emotional stress. Many people hold tension in their postural muscles. 




Misalignment and contorted appearance (forward head, kyphosis, hyperlordosis)

Pain (tech neck, back pain, chest pain, headaches)

Impaired nervous system feedback

Lack of confidence

Proper alignment

Slimmer, taller appearance

Pain relief

Greater confidence

Reduced muscle tension

Improved flexibility

Increased range of motion

Increased blood flow, stimulating restorative and regenerative effects

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Stretching improves flexibility so your body can adopt proper posture. It also strengthens postural muscles to help you hold and maintain good posture. 

“Gentle, slow and prolonged stretching can help improve posture by reducing muscle tension, improving flexibility and increasing our functional range of motion,” says Dr. Nevo. “Stretching of soft tissues can increase blood flow into the tissues, which helps stimulate restorative and regenerative effects through a process called ‘mechanotransduction.’ This is why stretching is often used as part of a rehabilitation program.” 

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Dr. Nevo says that stretching after a workout or working at a desk for hours can help prevent injury, while poor posture control can lead to impaired feedback between the nervous system and muscles and cause delayed reaction times, increasing the risk of injury. 

A person stretching beside their desk

“Posture is dependent on many moving parts and is usually determined by the positions our bodies are conditioned to be in for prolonged periods,” says Dr. Nevo.

Posture stretches may relieve hunchback, text neck and other postural issues

Posture stretches can help improve posture and relieve pain for those experiencing hunchback, forward head posture, text neck, hyperlordosis, kyphosis and other postural issues. Tech neck, in particular, has become an increasing problem. 

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According to Dr. Nevo: 

  • An estimated 30 to 50% of the population experiences some form of neck pain each year
  • Smartphone overuse has been linked to a sixfold increase in neck pain (and associated with anxiety, stress and depression)
  • Looking down at your device can add up to 60 lbs. of force to your spine, causing neck pain, stiffness and headaches. Over time, this can change the natural curvature of your neck and lead to chronic pain and dysfunction

A person holding their neck as if in pain or looking down at a smartphone

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“A common presentation for many people with posture dysfunction is called forward head posture, which includes rounding the shoulders and the head positioned in front of the base of the neck. There may be less rounding of the cervical spine and more rounding forward of the mid-back,” says Dr. Nevo. “A common syndrome is called the upper-crossed syndrome, which includes weak and inhibited muscles that bring the neck back and shoulders down as well as facilitated or tight muscles that bring the neck forward, shoulders up, forward, and rounded inwards.”

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Stretching is part of a good posture improvement program

While stretching can help improve your posture, it’s important to understand that it’s only part of the equation. A holistic posture treatment plan might also incorporate: 

  • Exercise: Exercise strengthens postural muscles and can help maintain a healthy weight that reduces stress on postural muscles and supporting tissues
  • Yoga: Many yoga poses contribute to healthy posture
  • Ergonomics: Ergonomic workstations help you maintain a healthy posture while at work and can prevent overuse injuries
  • Dynamic sitting: Regularly changing your sitting position and taking routine breaks can help you avoid slouching and adopting other bad posture habits
  • Mindfulness: It’s best to practice proper posture while working, sitting at home, standing, running and doing various activities
  • Posture correctors: Posture correctors gently retract your shoulders and align your spine, training you to hold proper posture on your own over time
  • Posture apps: Posture analysis apps, exercise programs and slouch detectors are available for smartphones and computers
  • Medical care: Chiropractors, physical therapists and other medical professionals can develop a posture rehabilitation program tailored to your specific needs

 A person wearing a BackEmbrace posture corrector

Guide to proper sitting posture

Identify the right stretches for your postural condition

It’s vital to ensure the posture stretches you perform are suited to your condition. 

“Different postural conditions may require different stretching programs,” says Dr. Nevo. “General stretches that can be helpful for improving posture typically target the chest, shoulders, and upper back for people who tend to slouch or have rounded shoulders. Stretches targeting the lower back and hips can be helpful for people who have a swayback posture. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the best stretches for you.”

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In addition, stretching isn’t always indicated for every postural condition. For example, Dr. Nevo cautions that stretching may not yield noticeable or sustained improvements for those with fixed postural deformities due to degenerative disc or joint disease. Avoid any stretches that cause discomfort or that exacerbate existing pain. 

A person consulting with their chiropractor

“Anyone with known tears, nerve injuries or recent surgery should not perform any stretching without consulting a healthcare professional,” says Dr. Nevo.

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20 best stretches for posture

You can perform these doctor-recommended postural stretches at home. Keep in mind that not every stretch is appropriate for every posture condition, so consult a medical professional to identify which stretches are best for your situation. 

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“With any stretching program, start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of stretches over time,” says Dr. Nevo. “Remember to breathe deeply and mindfully during stretching, and to avoid holding your breath or straining. Finally, listen to your body. Rehabilitation is not the same as working out in the gym. We never want to ‘push through pain.’”

1. Shoulder roll and bend

Dr. Nevo describes this as a simple posture stretch. 

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart
  • Take a deep breath in and out
  • Shrug your shoulders up and roll them backward
  • Take a deep breath in, and on exhale, reach down toward the ground
  • Hold this position and continue to inhale/exhale 5 to 10 times
  • Repeat 2 to 3 times daily as needed

2. Chin tucks

“This improves the alignment of the neck and creates a traction or stretch of the muscles in the back of the neck,” says Dr. Nevo. 

  • Slightly tuck your tin toward your chest
  • Pull your head back and slightly upward

3. Bruegger’s stretch

  • Sit with your palms up and thumbs pointing back
  • Lift your chest and draw your shoulder blades down and back while gliding your chin back
  • Hold for 5 to 10 seconds
  • Repeat 3 times

4. Upper trapezius stretch

  • Sit in a chair and drape your hand on top of your head
  • Gently pull your head toward your shoulder until you feel a stretch at the base of your neck (do not push past a gentle stretch)
  • Inhale and exhale (this stretches the muscles attached to the ribs and also helps your muscles relax)
  • Hold for 15 to 30 seconds
  • Repeat on the other side

5. Levator scapula stretch

  • Sit in a chair and drape your hand on top of your head
  • Rotate your head and gaze slightly to look toward your armpit
  • Place a gentle stretch downward until you feel a stretch in the muscle that attaches to the upper part of your shoulder blade
  • Inhale and exhale
  • Hold for 15 to 30 seconds
  • Repeat on the other side

6. Rolled towel stretch

  • Lie face up on a rolled-up towel placed just under your occiput (the back on the back of your head)

“This helps decompress the muscles in the back of the neck and upper fibers of the trapezius muscles, which can cause poor posture, neck pain and headaches,” says Dr. Nevo. 

7. Corner pectoral stretch

  • Standing in a doorway, with one forearm/hand supported with your elbow above your shoulder
  • Prevent your low back from arching and glide your chin back to align the ears over your shoulders
  • Lean in until a tolerable stretch is perceived
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes
  • Repeat on the opposite side

Dr. Nevo cautions to avoid excessive stretching if you experience numbness or tingling or have a history of shoulder instability. 

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8. Chest opener

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your hips
  • Arch your back and push your hips forward until you feel a stretch in your chest
  • Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, then release

This stretch works well for those with kyphosis or hunchback. 

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9. Shoulder blade squeezes

  • Sit tall in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and your hands on your thighs
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for 5 seconds
  • Repeat 10 times

Another stretch that’s often recommended for hunchback and kyphosis.

10. Upper back extension

  • Lie on your stomach with your arms extended above your head (use a pillow for support if needed)
  • Slowly lift your head off the ground, holding for 5 seconds before lowering back down
  • Repeat 10 times

11. Lateral flexion

  • Bring your ear to your shoulder to stretch your neck
  • Hold for 15 seconds, 2 reps on each side

This stretch is ideal for increasing flexibility and range of motion in the neck, especially for those suffering from tech neck

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12. Rotation with flexion

  • Look as far over your shoulder as you can, bring your chin to your chest, then rotate your head to the side
  • Hold for 15 seconds, 2 reps on each side

Another stretch that works well for tech neck. 

13. Floor stretch

  • Lie down with knees bent and feet flat on the floor
  • Slide your head along the floor to lengthen the back of the neck (do not jut your chin forward)
  • Hold for 60 seconds


14. Doorway stretch

  • Place your arms on either side of a doorway (like a cactus)
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together, gently lean forward, and draw your chin toward your neck
  • Hold for 60 seconds

15. Bed/couch stretch

  • Lie on your back on a bed or couch and allow your head to dangle over the edge
  • Hold for 15 to 30 seconds

16. Pelvic tilt

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor
  • Tilt your pelvis to bring your belly button toward your chin and your lower back toward the floor

This stretch, and the two that follow, are often recommended for those with lordosis.

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17. Psoas stretch

  • Step one foot up on a chair, then rock forward
  • Raise your arms over your head and hold
  • Lean to the side for a more advanced stretch

18. Piriformis stretch

  • Lie down with your knees bent and cross one leg over the other
  • Place one hand on your knee and the other on your ankle, then pull your leg toward your opposite shoulder

19. Prone head lift

  • Lie down, resting on your forearms
  • Slowly lift your head, relax, and repeat

20. Supine head lift

  • Lie on the floor, knees bent and feet flat
  • Slowly lift your head and hold. Repeat

When to do posture stretches

You can perform posture stretches any time it’s convenient – keeping in mind that it’s best to make them part of your routine. Ideas include: 

  • First thing in the morning when you wake up or as part of your morning workout
  • Throughout the day: At lunch, when taking breaks beside your desk, after work, etc.
  • Before bed, especially if you incorporate stretching into your bedtime routine

Posture stretches are excellent tools for improving your posture and relieving pain. If you’re unsure which stretches are best for your specific needs – or if you’ve been injured or experience chronic pain – be sure to consult with a medical professional before adding posture stretches to your routine. Finally, remember that stretching is only one part of a holistic posture improvement program that may include chiropractic care, physical therapy, exercise, ergonomics, mindfulness and a posture corrector.

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