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.
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
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
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.
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