Oops, I’ve Sat All Day

Some days just bomb with getting steps in.  Whether you’re in a long meeting, long day of class or just having a lazy day (those are allowed), it is inevitable we will all have times of long sits.  In isolation, generally, a long sit day is no big deal. I know for many of us that long sit days really are not in isolation, but occur M-F. Eventually our low back hurts, hip hurt, shoulders, neck, etc all ache.  Even I fall victim to poor posture and the effects of sitting, even though my job allows me to be up and active a fair amount. We all probably have the best intentions to stand and move, but life and work just get in the way.

With really just a handful of a few exercises, simple exercises can be performed to help combat the seated posture and help our muscles and joints feel as good as possible.

To help most combat the effects of sitting all day, we just need to essentially reverse all the positions we’ve maintained.  As promised, here is my short list of my Top 5 Postural correction moves:

Foam roll thoracic spine with a pectoral stretch

Chances are, the longer you are in front of your computer, the closer your chest comes to the keyboard & thus the more forward your shoulders actually go. Time to work on rolling out that upper back (thoracic spine) to encourage extension, reversing all that flexion.  It also feels SO GOOD. While you’re down there, go ahead and do a few angel stretches on the foam roller to lengthen out the pect muscles. Trust me, your shoulders will thank you.

Band “W”

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Following foam rolling, the banded W is an amazing follow up.  As mentioned, inevitably as we sit in front of a computer, our back rounds and the muscles between our shoulder blades stay in a lengthened position.  This is not good for their overall level of neuromuscular activation, strength and stability.  Stretch bands are so cheap and easy to tote around, or, just keep around your house. No gym required!  Grab a band and use it to perform the W – an exercise fantastic for your rotator cuff and lower trap

Neck Stretch – Upper trap + chin tuck stretch

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Forward head, rounded back.  The diction often used in physical therapy documentation to quickly document poor posture.  The forward head is just as much an issue as the rounded back.  With a forward head posture, the chin is essentially pointing up and forward, leading to stiffness and tightness in the upper neck.  The top of the shoulder is also the notorious location we all carry stress. The chin tuck (or unofficially, the double chin) exercise + neck stretch will help lengthen out those tight muscles, help keep the shoulders level.  It can also aid in alleviating tension headaches! Just don’t perform in front of an admirer ;).  Simply tuck your chin towards your neck (kind of like you are giving yourself a double chin), and then gently tilt your head towards one shoulder for a stretch on the opposite side. 

Kneeling hip flexor stretch

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Sitting keeps us so tight in the front of our hips.  Time to reverse it! Just make sure you get the posterior pelvic tilt down so that the stretch can really get into the hip flexor musculature.  In this photo, I am stretching my right hip flexor.

Bridge

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This exercise has been reviewed many times.  After stretching the front of the hips out, make sure those glutes are still revving.  Refer back here: for a review of glut strengthening

Core (on the Floor)

A flat stomach, often a #1 goal for many people.  How to get a flat stomach? Cardio + Core!! For core routine, the usual go-to thought is work the abs.  True, the abs are important. But, the abs only compromise a very small portion of what is considered our overall core.  To get max core stabilization effort, we need to work the superficial AND deep trunk musculature, as well as involve our glutes!  (Notice how those glutes cycle back around to EVERYTHING?) I know the “6-pack” is the most noted physique attribute of having a toned core, but it will be impossible to get the 6 pack without working the rest of the core!  Besides, working the full core makes for a happy back. Happy back means happy life, #amiright?

Circuit 1 

(immediately transition between moves)

Plank hold hands

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Hold 30 seconds

Plank hold forearm

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Hold 30 seconds

Knee taps alternating

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Alternate taps for 30 seconds

Knee double taps

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Tap both knees 30 seconds

Plank hold forearm

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Hold 30 seconds

Plank hold hand

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Hold 30 seconds

Circuit 2:

Table top alternating toe tap

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Keep low back flush against floor (use hands under sacrum if needed) and alternate toe taps for 30 seconds

Table top double toe tap

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Keep low back flush against floor (use hands under sacrum if needed) and slowly tap both toes down & return for 30 seconds

Double leg extend alternating LE lower

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Keep low back flush against floor (use hands under sacrum if needed) and alternate leg drop, keeping knees straight for 30 seconds

Double leg extend bilateral LE lower

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Keep low back flush against floor (use hands under sacrum if needed) and drop both legs down together.  Only go as low as you can while keeping back flat.  Perform for 30 seconds

Double leg swerves

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Keep low back flush against floor (use hands under sacrum if needed) and perform a half circle down and up towards the left, return to the top, perform to the right.  Perform for 45 seconds

Repeat Circuit 2

Circuit 3:

Double leg bridge

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Keep core engaged and squeeze gluts to lift.  Perform for 60 seconds

Single leg bridge

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Keep core engaged and pelvis level.  Perform on each leg for 15 seconds

Birddog with crunch

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Hold birddog position, keeping back flat and pelvis level.  Crunch knee to opposite elbow.  Alternate position for 60 seconds

Side plank

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Hold each side 30 seconds

Top 5 Swissball Exercises

Ah, the swissball.  We see them at the gym, but what the hell do we do with them?  They are in essence, an excellent tool for core and stability work.  The lack of stability they provide makes the core turn on even more and makes all your other muscles work harder to accomplish the exercise.  There are SO many things you can do with a swiss/stability ball, this list is obviously non-exhaustive.

A stability, or swissball, can easily be incorporated into your workout at the gym or at home.  Any time you do a movement in which the ground or a chair is used to support bodyweight, sub out a stability ball!  To do this safely, keep in mind that the sub-out part of the stability ball should be used for a secondary support.  This means that basically, if the exercise is stepping up onto a chair (if at home), or aerobic step (if at the gym), the ball clearly wouldn’t work here, so please don’t try to step on a ball, unless you are a professional.

My current Top 5 Stability ball exercises are:

  1. Pike crunch

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This is one of my FAVORITE core and arm exercises.  Make sure you keep your core rock hard.  Use your midsection to pull yourself into a pike position, hold for a second, and return to a plank position.  Repeat 8-12 times!

      2. Split squat ball

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Holy stability!  This is no easy exercise.  The prop of one leg on the ball really challenges your balance and core stability.  If you can’t maintain good form and control, be sure to use assistance for your balance.  Repeat each side 8-12 times!

      3. Shoulder bridge burner with UE movement 

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If you want to feel your glutes & hamstrings burn, baby, burn – this is the exercise for you.  Try to keep your core and hips perfectly straight and level, core engaged, and extra squeeze at the booty!  Keep this position while you perform upper body exercise (you can also get just as good of a burn by focusing on lower body!)  Pictured here, I’m performing overhead chops for core, lats and triceps. 

      4. Walk out with pushup

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Push ups are probably on my list of least liked exercises, but they are such a good exercise because they target core AND arms.  Add the stability ball to ramp up the core engagement.  Keep core tight and do not let your lower back “sag.”  8-12 reps!

      5. Bridge + HS curl

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If there is any exercise to guaranteed burn out the hamstrings on this list, this is the one.  Pro Tip: keep the booty elevated to maximize the work of the posterior chain, aka the backside of your body.  8-12 reps!