Do you have a job or lifestyle that has you in a seated position for most of your day?
If you do, you could be causing yourself back problems just by practicing bad posture while you sit! While it may not seem like that big of a deal, it can become a very serious problem when it causes your body to be tight and closed.
As you sit all day your glutes and hamstrings become weak, your hip flexors work overtime, your core disengages, and, depending on how you situate yourself, your shoulders can round forward. This is called a kyphotic posture. It’s a toxic position for your muscles to be in on a regular basis, and can be detrimental to any kind of athleticism.
Don’t worry, there’s good news! There are things that you can do while you work (or while you travel) to limit the effects of sitting all day! Even if you absolutely have to sit while you are at work, you still have options!
When you are seated, be it at a desk or while driving, make sure that your core is engaged and that you have a neutral spine. It is important that your shoulders are pulled back and down, that you engaging your back muscles, and keep your shoulders from rounding forward. Try to find good posture before sitting down. It’s easy to poorly adjust bad posture and end up overextending your back, instead of finding that neutral and braced spine.
If you use a vehicle to drive long distances in your workday (as well as on vacations), you might have a lumbar support built into your seat, which may feel like enough support. However, if you leave your core disengaged you will still have bad posture and end up with a multitude of problems over the course of time. Not to mention you’ll be stiff in the back and hips when you arrive at your destination. That stiffness can be a precursor to pain, so be cognizant of what your body is telling you.
While sitting for extended times it’s important to take a break and walk around at least once every 30 minutes. Changing position, stretching, and moving will all help to relax your back and loosen your hips throughout the day. Depending on your work, or drive, this may not always be feasible.
So, here are a few tasks to implement that you can use to support your back while seated:
Try tall kneeling while you are at your desk with something soft under your knees. It will disengage your hip flexors, and if you keep your core tight and shoulders back, you will improve your posture!
Standing desk™, IndoBoards™, stability ball chairs, and treadmill desks are options instead of sitting, but they still require a tight braced core and good posture for them to be of any benefit. So, concentrate on engaging that core for all activities!
I also have some bonus exercises and stretches for you to counteract the effects of sitting all day. Please use responsively and enjoy your awesome posture!
Grab the handles and have your palms facing each other. Keep your feet and knees together. You can have a slight bend to your knees, but keep your body in a stiff plank position throughout the whole movement, making sure that your shoulders stay back and down (packed) when pulling back and when in extension. Keep the elbows tucked tight to your sides and squeeze your shoulders together like crazy while you row. (This one is for the gym, unless you have a suspension trainer at home)
Laying on the ground with your feet and knees together squeeze your bum and lift your hips to the ceiling. Fight for height!! This is a perfect exercise for strengthening the backside and opening those hip flexors.
Hip Flexor Stretch:
In a half-kneeling position, making sure your back foot is tucked at 90° or else your hip flexor won’t be targeted as much. Squeeze your bum and push your hips forward until you feel a pull down the front of your kneeling leg. You can make this more dynamic by pulsing forward and leaning way back with only a slight pause to target the hip flexor and also the hamstrings.
From standing, fairly close to the desk, bring one leg onto your desk and lay from your knee to your ankle flat on the desk. Hands on the desk, or holding onto your leg. Move your hips closer to the desk when you don’t feel much of a stretch anymore.