Are you sitting right now? Close your eyes and tune into your low spine. How does it feel? Crunched? Now think about your bum for a second, the bones that leave an imprint on your chair are called “sits bones,” do they feel heavy? Now move up to shoulders. Are they rounded forward or are they perfectly lined up over your hips?
Where’s your head? Is it jutting forward as you look at your screen? Pull it back.
Spending hours at a desk, or in your car on your commute to work and then sitting in front of a television, can wreak havoc on your body.
I’d say, on average we probably spend about 12 hours a day sitting. Add that up per week, month and year, and the affect to your back and your overall health, equals not pretty.
In general, your body needs to move to feel alive, release stress and anxiety and to keep everything moving, and I mean everything.
Here are a couple of scary facts for you. Sitting with “good” posture can put up to 140 pounds of pressure on the spine. Now, if you’re not supporting your back with strong abdominals and happen to slouch, you’re adding 275 pounds of pressure on your spine. Yikes.
As a Pilates Instructor, back pain is one of the most common complaints people come to me with.
Here are a couple of ways to bring life back to your sedentary body.
1. Streeettcchh: It’s the best thing you can do for your body anytime, but especially if you sit for long periods of time. Stretching your hamstrings, and your hips will relieve your low back.
The easiest stretch to do while sitting at your desk is called “The Figure 4” stretch. Sit with both feet planted on the floor, then cross one ankle over the opposite knee. This alone should relieve your low back and stretch your outer hips. To add to the stretch, gently lean forward. This stretch can also be done while lying flat on the floor.
2. Get out!: Go for a walk, soak up the sun’s rays and breathe some fresh air. This is not only great for mind clarity, but it also awakens the bod. You’ll feel more energized, happier and fresh. If it’s raining or you can’t get out, try organizing an office lunch-hour group workout time. You can either take turns picking out a video or sign up for a live virtual session via webcam. Let’s hear it for increased office productivity!
3. Stay hydrated: Did you know that fatigue, “head fog,” hunger and tight muscles are all symptoms of dehydration? The best way to measure the amount water you’re drinking throughout the day is to carry a reusable (glass) water bottle and keep refilling it. Start your mornings with a mug of warm water and freshly squeezed (organic) lemon juice upon waking to rehydrate after a night’s sleep. Lemon water is also great for balancing your body’s PH levels.
4. Strengthen your abdominals: Strong abdominal muscles are key for giving your back a well-deserved break; strong abdominals also help keep your spine upright giving us better posture and the appearance of looking taller. Yes, please.
Forearm Plank is great abdominal exercise. Want to add more to it? Move from plank to pike, taking the hips into the air. One set of 10 should do it.
5. Get upside down: Yes, I am aware that this may not be standard behavior in your office, but you tell everyone who’s giving you the “side eye” it’s for your health and wellbeing! Getting upside down can be great for the ‘blahs,’ and promotes relaxation, but it also reverses blood flow. Why? Because it’s good for you, think of it this way, it’s like stirring your green juice that has separated after sitting too long. Try lying flat on your back with your legs up the wall for 5-10 minutes. You will literally feel the blood flow reverse down your legs to your organs. Another great way to get upside down is to hang your head forward. This can be done in your chair or standing. In your chair, plant your feet as wide as your chair will allow and hang your head forward between your legs. No, I’m not joking.
My favorite way to hang is to first stand as wide as my legs will hold me, then hang forward, hands on the floor reaching past my head. It looks like a wide-legged downward dog.
Bonus! 6. Take 25-30 minutes and do all 5. You’ll feel alive, energized and ready to take on the rest of your workday.
Need more tips or exercises? Feel free to send requests my way!
Now it’s time to get off my butt and take a walk!