Posture in the Workplace: 3 Tips to Help
Director of Corporate Performance
If you have an office job, you’ve probably experienced the aggravating and painful effects of poor posture due to prolonged sitting at a computer. Poor posture can easily become second nature leading to damaging of the spinal structure, weakening of the postural chain and structural core, and cause chronic back and neck pain which often manifests itself even after work hours and even despite a regular exercise routine.
So what happens when we sit all day? First and foremost, standing often (every 60-90 minutes) prevents blood from pooling in the glutes, causing blood flow circulation impairment, pain in the lower extremities, fatigue, and the onset of a rolled or relaxed thoracic spine (between shoulder blades – the “rounded” shoulders look). Sitting too frequently is directly related to postural concerns and is correlated with weight gain, circulation issues, pain, intestinal disorders, low energy or depression, increased stress, impaired cognitive function, etc. It’s important to stand and stretch often – walking for a few minutes around the office can drastically reduce pain and other directly related symptoms.
Fortunately, the effects of poor posture are easily within one’s ability to control and even prevent. Until recently, posture has been overlooked by many fitness professionals and the average person. A lack of proper alignment in the spine, hips, and legs can lead to bigger problems down the road. For our corporate performers, here are three foundational movements/stretches that help correct poor posture and keep you moving like Mother Nature intended!
This is sometimes referred to as a plank, but whatever you want to call it, this simple Isometric Hold will test even the fittest person. With the internal core muscles like the Transverse Abdominis being activated, you will provide a stronger support system for the spine and protecting the lower back in everyday activities.
Begin by lying face down on the ground. You want to have your elbows underneath your shoulders with forearms and palms down. Feet should be flexed with toes on the ground and hip width. You want to relax the shoulders and maintain a neutral spine with no arches or drop in the hips. To make this easier, simply place your forearms on a bench or elevated surface. Finally, a simple and overlooked trick to really activate your core is to create tension with your elbows by pulling them towards your toes. Don’t actually move them, but the extra isometric tension will produce a greater effect of this exercise.
As silly as this exercise may look, the Hip Bridge requires a little bit of focus. By engaging the Glutes rather than the Hamstrings, you provide hip stability that can translate into better balance. Begin with Isometric holds on both legs, then progress into repetitions and single leg holds for unilateral stability.
Lay down on your back with knees bent and heels on the ground. The feet will be flexed with toes up to the sky and hands palm down on the ground beside you. Lift the hips up and off the ground, concentrating on squeezing the Glutes and relaxing the Hamstrings. If you find that your knees are falling towards each other, place a foam roller or rolled up towel between your knees to keep them from moving. Add a rubber Mini Band for extra Glute activation!
Letter Holds – Y, T, U
With more and more jobs requiring us to sit all day, our upper backs and shoulders become extremely tight and immobilized. Getting our scapulas to move properly can help alleviate shoulder and neck discomfort. Letter holds are a great way to remind us to keep our shoulders down and back!
Lying face down, forehead on the ground with our feet flexed and toes on the ground, we can make Y with our arms. Keeping our thumbs up to the sky and arms straight, we can raise our arms and hands off the ground just a few inches. When you do this, try to pull with the back, rather than our trapezius near the base of our neck. After 10 times, make the letter T with our arms straight to the side and repeat. Finally, bend the arms at 90 degrees to make the letter U.