Moving less - sitting more?
It’s not easy to be locked down at home; Having less interaction with colleagues - moving less around, doing ALL your work from your desk, couch or bed. Yup this current situation got us all sitting more and moving less.
However, sitting has great implications on your physical health, as most people don’t sit in favorable positions and this compromises our posture. One, sitting causes the pelvis to rotate backward, which puts a lot of pressure on your low back, causing back problems. As a result of this, the head moves forward, putting a strain on the neck. This, in turn, causes the shoulders to round forward making us develop a hunchback. Not flattering! Once in a hunched forward position, the ribcage gets compressed, which allows us to take in less breath. So now our energy level is going down. Additionally, our hips get tighter from excessive sitting, which can cause low back pain, knee, foot and ankle problems. So how can we take better care of ourselves as we are work from home?
Here are five stretches to practice whenever your body and mind yarns for a break. Take 5 deeps breaths on either side.
Too many of us strain to see the computer. It’s either is too far away, too low, too high, too small or too dim and this has an effect on our neck health.
SIDE NECK - UPPER TRAPEZIUS
Sit up straight and grab with your had underneath your seat. Then place the other hand to the opposite ear and first lift your head up and then let it fall tears the shoulder. No pressing down. Let gravity work.
SIDE BACK OF NECK - ELEVATOR SCAPULAE
Bring your hand towards the head side of your head and bring your nose towards your armpit as if you want to smell
Like with the neck many don’t sit with the shoulders back when working. This has effects on the shoulders. In this one, we stretch the armpits and the backs of the upper arms (triceps). We open the chest and extend the side-body on the side where the arm is up.
I. Bend your arm behind your head and with your other hand lift your elbow up and in towards the midline. Bring your navel in and lengthen through your low back. Press the back of your head into your arm. See if you can look straight ahead.
II. An advancement from the first pose. Have a belt ready and grab the belt with your other hand. pull the belt up and let your down hand travel further up your back.
3. CHEST & UPPER BACK
The chest is often tight from hunching forward over the computer and upper back hunches. Reverse your poor posture by doing either of these two exercises.
I. Sit at the edge of your chair. Lean forwards and interlace your hands behind and lift them up to the edge of your chair. Bring the navel in and elongate your back. Look straight ahead.
II. If you can’t do the first. Do this. Place your hands behind you - fingertips towards you back. Bring your elbows in towards the midline. Lean back into your hands and start to lift your chest up. Keep your low back long by bringing your navel towards your spine. Keep your neck long and only let the head drop if it feels okay for your neck.
Twists are very therapeutic for the spine and help to restore the spine's natural range of motion, which gets lost by too much sitting. Additionally, it stimulates circulation and cleanses the organs, pushing out blood filled with metabolic by-products and toxins. Yippee!
I. This one twists the entire spine whilst also giving the chest (pectoralis major ad minor a stretch)
Knock the knees together and bring one hand to the opposite knee. Press your hand to the knee and the knee to the hand. Lengthen through your spine and bring the other hand around to grab for the back ledge of the chair. On your inhale lengthen through your spine and on your exhale press your hands to the knee and twist.
II. If version I. doesn’t work for you, do this.
Sit with your side parallel to the back of your chair keeping the knees together. Slowly start to twist your shoulder to face the back ledge of the chair. The front hand pulls towards you and the backhand press into the chair. Ensure your hips stay level towards the front.
Tight hips weaken and shorten hip muscles, which affects your overall posture and body functioning. Here, we stretch the outer hip, the gluteus, and the piriformis - a little muscle that can cause sciatica often giving rise to low back pain.
Place one ankle onto the knee and flex your foot. Place on hand to the ankle and one to the knee and lengthen through your spine. Close your eyes and lean forward. It’s important to keep the spine straight. 5 deep breaths.
Expand your compressed ribcage by creating space for more breath and feel the positive vibes rise.
Place on hand to the side of your chair and bend the elbow behind your back. Then lengthen the opposite arm up and lean to the side. Press your hand to the chair and the opposite hip down as you reach your arm long and stretches through your side.
No excuses! Sitting has been proclaimed the new smoking by a recent study, so don’t take it seated.
Standing up bring circulation through your body and brings pressure off your back.
If you don’t have an elevation table or a computer stand like in the picture use books. And then take your phone meeting walking - perhaps just around your apartment, house or perhaps even use the stairs - be creative. Remember nobody is watching ;)
Marie-Louise Strøyberg is a yoga teacher and meditation facilitator and the founder of Mind Your Business - a corporate moving mindfulness concept integrating movement, breath work, and meditation to increase wellbeing and health at work.