Many of us spend the majority of the day in a seated position as we tend to sit when commuting, working/studying, and relaxing at home. As we mentioned in previous posts, prolonged sitting can cause a range of adverse health effects, including bad posture and back pain.
First of all ensure your posture while sitting is the best it can be:
- keep your feet flat and on either the floor or a footrest
- avoid crossing your knees or ankles
- position your knees at the same height or slightly lower than the hips and maintain a small gap between the back of the knees and the chair
- place your ankles in front of the knees
- keep your shoulders down and back
- keep the forearms and knees parallel to the floor wherever you can holding elbows at the sides creating an L-shape in the arms
- keep the monitor at arm’s length and no more than 2 inches above the natural line of sight
- sit up straight and looking forward without straining the neck
- use an ergonomic chair, a Swiss ball, or a knee chair
- use a headset for long calls or dictate to reduce neck strain
- position the keyboard and mouse close together to avoid reaching
- avoid sitting for long periods at a time, ideally taking at least a 10-minute break for every hour of sitting or using a standing desk to alternate between sitting and standing
While sitting down and in the same position is not recommended there are few exercise you can do without leaving your desk to release stiffness in your neck, chest and hips.
Here’s a combination of stretches and C.A.R.s (Controlled Articular Rotations) exercises you can add to your routine from today.
Disclaimer – you’re in for a double – or even triple – chin party here!
Slowly pull your head back and tuck your chin. This places your head directly above your shoulders
Slowly tilt your head back looking up at the ceiling. Avoid big movements and make sure you’re not arching/moving your spine. Gently rotate your head forward until your chin reaches the chest, stop when a stretch is felt in the muscles in the back of your neck. Hold each stretches for 4 counts.
Repeat five times
Tuck your chin back, lower it to your chest and then move it to your shoulder maintaining the tuck. With control drop your ear to your shoulders and draw a big semi-circle with your chin looking at the ceiling. Reach your ear to your other shoulder, rotate your head forward and lift it up to starting position. Repeat on the other side. Big things to be aware of is to not let the shoulders come up and don’t let your torso rotate with it, but make sure is the neck doing the movement. Stop if you feel any pain.
Do 6 reps – 3 each side.
Sit on the front edge of the chair and reach your hands back to hold on to the sides of the chair. Tuck your pelvis in and engage your abs to maintain that position.
Pull your elbows backward and squeeze your shoulder blades together as you bring your chest forward. Avoid to arch your lumbar spine.
Repeat 10 times, each time holding the stretch for the count of 4.
Extend both arms long towards the floor and by the side of your body. Make a strong fist with the active arm. Press both shoulders back and down then slowly make a big circle with one arm following this movement pattern: forward and down, forward and up, back and up, back and down, then invert direction.
Make sure you are not leaning your ear in or compensating with other body parts, only your shoulder should be moving.
Repeat 4 times in each direction then switch to the other side.
Upper Thoracic Extensions
Push your chair back, and lean forward, keeping your back flat. Place your elbows on the desk in front of you, and press them into the desk, press your palms together behind the back of your head. With control scoop your chest up and forward, bracing your core to not flare the ribcage or put pressure in the lumbar spine. Hold for a count of 4 seconds at a time then release the stretch.
Repeat 10 times.
Hug yourself tights placing your palms on top of the opposite shoulder. Flex towards the front, rotate to one side, and laterally tilt. With control get into extension without arching your lumbar spine or letting your head dropping back and rotate to the other side. Keep the movement nice and small, making sure it’s only through the thoracic spine. Tilt on the other side then rotate towards the front and get back to starting position. Repeat on the other direction.
Do 6 reps – 3 each side.
Hip Flexor Chair Stretch
Shift your body to one side of the chair and place that side’s knee below your hip, place the other leg in front so it forms a 90 degrees angle at the knee.
Lift your chest up and squeeze your rear glute muscles, gently tucking your pelvis in. You should feel a nice stretch in the rear hip flexor.
Hold for 20 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Standing Hip Rotation
Hold on to your desk or heavy piece of furniture to avoid any compensation movement patterns.
Then bring one leg up, knee in line with the hip and straighten the supporting leg to switch on the glute muscle. With control abduct the leg to the side keeping the knee high. Slowly internally rotate the hip bringing the knee facing down. Make sure you aren’t arching your lower back, you want to keep everything tight. Then squeeze it in towards the other leg bringing the hip to extension. Now rewind the movement in the other direction:hip adduction, take that knee as high as you can without compensating with other body parts, scrape the heel all the way through, up, around and back to flexion.
Repeat for 4 reps each side.