Too much time at the desk
can cause slouched posture, back pain, neck pain, and even headaches. But, you can have good posture and avoid this pain if you work your core and stretch—even if you sit most of day.
Even when you have the best intentions
and start out by sitting up tall, muscles will start to fatigue after about an hour, and you’ll eventually find yourself sitting in some less-than-optimal position. But don’t feel bad, it happens to everyone!
Let’s say you were able to stay
in the best posture for the whole time-spending extended time sitting will still tighten your knees and hips, and tighten and shorten the muscles and connective tissue there. Sitting at the computer in particular will tighten your biceps and shoulders.
Because your legs are connected to your hips,
and your hips are connected to your back, tight legs can throw off your posture and give you back tension and pain. Tight arms and shoulders will consequently tighten your neck. For this reason, it’s good to get out of your seat, stand up, and stretch.
There are other reasons to stand and move throughout the day.
In my last video, I shared that one of the things more than 10,000 people who have lost weight and are keeping it off have in common is that they move more every day.
It’s not just about weight.
Evidence is mounting that moving throughout the day can improve your health and add years to your life, whereas sitting longer can do the opposite.
You can make these stretches part of your daily movement. I do them every morning to ready my body for the day, and sometimes in the middle of the day and after my workday is over. They’re so subtle, you can even do them at the office.
Read on or watch the video for five simple stretches you can do for good posture, to avoid back pain and headaches
1) Stretch for spine mobility
Find this stretch at (0:48)
Stand tall and reach the right arm overhead to the other side of your body. Essentially, pull your right side ribs away from your right hip. Keep yourself in alignment: pull your shoulder blades down your back, your front ribs back, and belly in slightly, so your body doesn’t arch forward. Breathe a few times in this position and with every exhale, try to go a little further. Do the same on the other side.
Finish up by clasping your hands behind you, and pull your hands off your glutes. Reach your breastbone up and draw your shoulder blades down your back to open your chest. Keep your belly in so you perform the lift without pushing into your lower back.
2) Stretch for front of hip (hip flexors), front thighs (quads), and knees
Can aid in relieving low back pain (1:35)
Stand with one hand on a chair or a desk. With the other hand, grab your pants, the top of your foot, or your shin on the same side. Align your posture from front to back again: shoulders down, ribs slightly back. Most importantly, hold your abs in and drop your tailbone, taking away any pressure on your lower back. If you want more of a stretch, bring your knees closer together and lift your foot higher.
3) Stretch for lower back, back of thigh (hamstrings), and knees
Helps in relieving low back pain (2:13)
Place a chair against a desk or a wall so it doesn’t move. Place your heel on the seat of the chair and straighten your leg. Reach down your leg as far as you can. Pull your belly in slightly to lengthen your lower back. Bend your standing knee slightly to keep your balance. Again, pull your shoulder blades down and reach your head out from your shoulders.
4) Stretch for the front shoulder, biceps, and neck
Opens your chest and shoulders after leaning over a laptop all day, which can help avoid headaches (2:37)
Stand with your right shoulder next to a corner. Place your right hand on the corner and then walk away until you can extend your arm all the way out with your palm flat. Line up your shoulder with your hand and the corner. Pull your shoulder blades down, away from your ears, and turn away from your arm. Then look away.
After a few seconds, bend your elbow to go further into your shoulder stretch.
5) Stretch for the shoulders and back (lats)
This, along with #4 above can help avoid headaches by opening the shoulders, which affect the neck. It will also help keep your shoulders from rolling forward (3:09)
In a doorway, place your upper arm bone (humorous) onto the corner’s edge. Step the same leg forward so you move forward. Hold your ribs and lower belly slightly back and press your breastbone forward. Try to leave no space between your underarm and the wall. You’ll feel this from the top of your shoulder to your underarm, even down the side of your back.
Just five stretches
can help you counteract computer posture, stand taller, and move easier. Add that to some good core exercises for best results. You can find my core exercises here.
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