Fight back against the desk!
We see the effects of modern westernised living here at Access FItness on a daily basis (myself included). We're dealing with sometimes a lifetime of ingrained poor positioning compounded by years of slouching in a chair at a desk and it's scary!
All is not lost though, there is light at the end of this tunnel.
We can't do much to change the modern world we live in and the circumstances under which we have to carry out our day however there are some steps we can take to undo some of the damage done during a day of sitting...
And the best part is they're simple, straight forward and non time consuming. Some of them you can even do at your desk while you're working...sneaky, sneaky!
1) The Executive Stretch.
This one goes at the top of the list because it is both extremely effective at relieving lower back pain/ discomfort and you can also execute this while hard at work in your chair. When we sit for long periods of time our Glutes (bum cheeks) get very warm, couple this with the pressure being put on to them (body weight) and we get a toasted sandwich (tight and stiff). We created a recipe for stiff and soreness. Here's what to do (see picture), hook a foot over your opposite knee and cradle your knee to your chest, twisting into the stretch, hold for as long as you want.
2) The Squat.
Sitting in the bottom of a squat on a regular basis is one of the best ways to improve, well, your squat. But why should you care? What if you don't even do any squats? Well the answer is you probably should be. I'm not talking about squatting with enormous weights on your back, that has to be earned through progression. I'm talking about the basic squat position to improve movement in your hip capsule (one of the most common complaints we see), mobility in your ankle joints (the other most common complaint) and a well needed stretching of the tissue surrounding your Sacroiliac joint (lower spine/pelvis) and to undo some of the nasty disfunction caused by lengthy periods in a chair. You can do this at your desk again, you might just look like a maniac though, but who cares... Grab a hold of the edge of your desk or something sturdy and squat down with a shoulder with stance (or there abouts), alternatively you can use something like a dumbbell to hold in front of you as a counter balance if you struggle to squat without falling backwards. in this position let your lower back round over and you can spend some time driving your knees open with your elbows to open your hips and shifting your weight from one ankle to the other to stretch out your heel cords/ calves. (See pic) Spend a minute or two in this position as many times as you can throughout the day.
3) Door frame stretch and hunch back remedy.
Sitting at your desk for the day, how many times have you finished your day with an achy upper back, feeling like you need to bend yourself over backwards to relieve the ache? What's happening is your body is adapting to this position by shortening your anterior (front) musculature (chest/shoulders), resulting in a rounding of the upper spine (Thoracic spine). Muscles become tight and stiff and we end with these aches that plaque us as we walk around like Quasimodo. Here's what to do... Firstly you need to stretch out your chest and shoulders (Pectoralis and anterior Deltoid), find a doorway, place one forearm in a vertical position against the door frame (See pic) and lean into the door gap, slightly twisting your torso in the opposite direction.
Spend two minutes on each side as many times a day as you can.
Now to hit the other side of your torso. Like I said, while your chest and shoulder muscles are shortening, your Thoracic spine is rounding over forwards to compensate (hunch back). A foam roller can be used to alleviate this by lying with your upper back across the roller (See pic). Bridge up to start with, pushing your hips off the floor and you head down towards the floor. Now in this extended position, engage your Glutes (squeeze butt cheeks), tense your abdominals (imagine someone was going to Karate chop your stomach) and gently lower you hips back to the ground increasing the extension in your upper back, hold for 30's or so. This can be performed across the length of the Thoracic spine (Mid back to top of shoulder blades).
So there you have it people, a simple and effective way to fight back against your chair and desk and a well earned excuse to take a break at work.
Till next time,