You’re probably reading this sitting down right now, aren’t you?
Sitting has become this generation’s smoking epidemic or obesity problem: it’s the ‘unhealthy’ buzz trend, with numerous studies linking a sedentary lifestyle to cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer.
And people sit a lot these days. From your commute or drive to work, to a long workday at your desk, then back home to the couch for some relaxation time, our derrieres are flattened for the majority of the day.
Seems innocent, enough, right? In fact, lengthy sitting sessions can directly impact your health, and cripple your posture. Even if you start the day sitting upright, with the best intentions for your neck and back, a prolonged sit will fatigue your postural muscles making you susceptible to slouching. Before you know it, you’re slumped over, shoulders rounded and huddled, hands inward like a T-Rex, with your low back in a stretched position or, desk jockey posture as some refer to it as.
Bad Posture Can Lead To:
- Neck, Shoulder, and Elbow Pain
- Back Pain
- Anterior Hip Pain
- Knee Pain
Why is correct posture important? Besides the health implications, prolonged sitting causes us to use our bones for stability when we should be utilizing our muscles for support. Without tweaking this form, the length tension of the body’s muscles will change, causing the positioning of the bones in joints to change as well. Over time, consistent bad posture will have you locked into this new position, making your bad posture your new body shape.
Thankfully, there are many simple posture exercises and tricks you can do right at your desk to prevent you from becoming a present-day Quasimodo.
Simple Desk Exercises to Improve Posture
1. Keep your ears and shoulders in line.
Before we get into specific exercises that’ll confuse co-workers nearby, this is a simple little trick that has a great posture payoff. Virtually any time you’re sitting at your desk, remember to keep your ears in line with your shoulders.
If they aren’t aligned with each other, it means you’re sitting either too far forward or backward. This basic posture diagnostic will at minimum keep your upper body in a good posture position, benefitting your upper chest, shoulder, and neck areas.
Keeping this small habit in mind can play a large role in correcting and maintaining good posture.
2. Office Chair Squats.
Okay, it’s time for a little embarrassment and fun in the office. If you’re self-conscious about doing exercises that may look awkward in front of fellow employees, just remember they’ll be the ones hobbling around like Yoda when they’re older.
The first exercise to fix your posture is the office chair squat. To those familiar with squats, it’s exactly what it sounds like: doing squats (bending your knees until your hamstrings are parallel with the floor, then rising back up again) directly onto your chair, which will improve both your core and posture.
Remember to not fully sit down when performing these posture exercises; that’ll defeat the purpose of the workout and bypass the core training. Squats are excellent in correcting posture, as the natural seating movements of the exercise will translate into better sitting habits.
Five sets for about 30 seconds each run is what you should be aiming for.
3. Trade in Your Chair for a Ball.
This is more than a general schoolyard rule. If you can get away with it, an exercise ball is an unorthodox way of forcing you to maintain good posture.
Try sitting on a ball, and see how much more difficult slouching is. It’s almost impossible to perform any tasks at your desk with poor posture if you’re ‘on the ball.’ Swapping an exercise ball for your computer chair also engages different muscles that are typically dormant throughout the day, passively building your muscle strength.
Some people keep their regular office chair, with a ‘backup’ ball chair that they rotate into their sedentary days. You don’t need to go all-in with the exercise ball, but it’s a good alternative to switch things up to keep that poor posture in check.
4. Try Desk Yoga Exercises, Like the Seated Spinal Twist.
One of the areas that can really stiffen up and ruin your posture is your back. This form of ‘desk yoga’ alleviates back tension that’s been building up throughout the workday.
The seated spinal twist starts with planting your feet flat on the floor, while stretching your back straight and rigid, all while making sure your head aligns with your tailbone. Next, cross your left leg over your right one. On the next breath exhale, twist from the lower belly towards the top leg, allowing your upper body to slowly follow. Keep that position held for 30 seconds, up to a minute, on each side.
Similar to a massage, you’ll feel your back is much looser and nimbler with this posture exercise, free of any knots or pain. Even with precision-point posture, your back muscles are still working to keep your spine up; the seated spinal twist takes pressure off that area.
5. Get Up and Move!
You know about the negative health effects prolonged sitting can have, so the logical thing to do is sit less! As we discussed earlier, your muscles fatigue when you’re stoic, causing your body to slouch thus ruining your posture.
Getting up for a few minutes to walk, stretch, or even just stand every half hour resets and realigns your body, breaking out of that slumping slouch. Any poor posture you melted into while working will be reformed, making your body a fresh canvas to remold.
If your job doesn’t give you much opportunity to get up and move, you’ll have to be shrewder in maximizing stand-up time. You can start taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to bathrooms that are further and less convenient to get to, or spend break time actively walking and moving. Not only will your posture improve, but you’ll find yourself more efficient and concentrated when you get back to your desk.
These simple tricks are easy adaptations to make in your day to go from bad posture to good posture. With your muscles being stretched and alleviated of stress, your body can realign itself to its correct, natural position.
If you’re suffering from neck, shoulder, hip, or back pain associated with poor posture, SEMI Sports clinic can help eliminate soreness. From our Active Release Techniques to our Pilates program, SEMI’s variety of services can get you feeling like yourself again.
Contact SEMI today!