Do you sit at a desk all day? Sore neck, back and tight shoulders? Sitting at a desk all day can really put a damper on your posture. Here, not only will you find strengthening exercises to perform, but also stretches that help to improve your posture as well.
What the typical “Desk Job Posture” looks like:
With a desk job, most of the time, poor posture will illicit a forward rounded shoulder position, pulling the shoulders towards the mid-line, weakening the upper back muscles and increasing pressure on the lumbar (lower back) spine, also weakening the core.
Sitting in a chair all day, can also reduce flexibility in the hip flexors (the muscles at the front of your hips).
What is needed to correct the posture?
1.) Reduce forward rounded shoulders
2.) Improve upper back strength
3.) Increase core strength and stability to support lower back and ultimately improve sitting posture
4.) Improve flexibility in hip flexor muscles
Stretches to reduce forward rounded shoulders:
Chest Stretches are key to improve the mobility in the front of the shoulders and chest allowing for mobility to “pull” the shoulders back and improve upright posture. These stretches could include…
Doorway Pec stretch:
Place a hand on each side of your doorframe with elbows just below a 90 degree angle–you may feel a stretch here, or need to lean forward, GENTLY, to fee a small stretch.
The stretch should be slightly uncomfortable, but TOLERABLE. You can hold up to 60 seconds, but stop if hands or arms become numb or tingly (always avoid pain).
This can be performed with both arms at the same time, OR one arm at a time, rotating the opposite direction from from the arm you are attempting to stretch.
Hand Clasp behind back:
This requires some flexibilility from the get go and may not work for everyone.
Simply clasp your hands together behind your back bringing your shoulders down, away from your ears as if reaching toward the floor. You should feel a stretch in the anterior (front) aspect of your shoulders, maybe into your neck if your extra tight!
Exercises to improve upper back strength:
Upper back strength assists in the ability to sit up straight and be able to hold there for longer periods of time.
Scapular Squeezes (Shoulder Blade Squeezes):
Simply keep your feet flat on the floor (could do this while seated at your desk) and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Avoid raising your shoulders up, keeping them down away from your ears—squeeze as if trying to pinch a pencil and hold it between the shoulder blades. Hold 5 seconds and repeat up to 20 times
Bent over Row:
Start with knees slightly bent, hinge forward at the hips, maintain a contraction in the abdominals and gluteus; keep shoulders engaged down away from ears and row both elbows up towards your sides contracting your shoulder blade muscles as if pinching a pencil between them; Hold 2-3 seconds and return to starting position repeating 10-15 times. Use resistance to improve strength as tolerate via resisted band or dumbells; This exercise can also be performed one arm at a time- Just be sure to maintain a neutral spine (keep the back straight).
The list could go on and on here, for the sake of your eye balls and not to be overwhelmed, these are simple and safe core strengthening exercises that can be done to help improve posture. There will be a post just about core strengthening soon!
Posterior pelvic tilt:
Lying with knees bent, feet flat on the floor, simply contract the abs, by drawing the belly button towards the spine and flattening the lower back to the floor. Also think of it as drawing your pelvic bone towards your chest. Hold the contraction for up to 10 seconds and release; repeat.
Lying flat, heels are as close to the buttock as comfortable, feet hip width apart, begin with a posterior pelvic tilt, and raise the hips up off the ground–squeeze your buttock/glute muscles and hold 2-3 seconds, returning slowly to the start position and repeat up to 20 times. (Make this more difficult by wrapping a resisted loop or band around your knees.)
Lying supine (on your back), knees bent with feet flat on the floor; gently contract your abdominal muscles and squeeze a pillow between your knees. Hold up to 10 seconds and repeat 15-20 times.
Four Point Hip and Arm Extension:
Begin on your hands and knees, slowly raise one arm forward and the OPPOSITE leg up. Contract the glute (buttock) muscle and really reach forward with that arm. Hold 2-3 seconds and return to starting position—repeat up to 20 times on each side.
The first photo demonstrates correct form keeping the head in a neutral position, un-like photo two where the head is looking up increasing pressure on the cervical spine.
Remember, always avoid painful exercise and stretching. If soreness develops after exercise or stretching, ice is usually a good pain reducer. Be sure to check out the post about how to make an ice pack at home. Or watch the youtube video here.
Hip Flexor Stretching:
Standing, hold a wall for balance if needed, reach the heel up towards the buttock and grasp the ankle with your hand. Maintain a neutral pelvis by gently contracting (or tightening) the glute muscle (butt muscle). Avoid arching the lower back as not to increase pressure and pain on the lower lumbar spine. Hold up to 60 seconds and repeat on the other side. Photo ONE is the correct way to perform this stretch.
Avoid pulling the heel to the side of the hip as it is very stressful on the knee joint as in photo two.
Also avoid tilting the hip down, as this will compensate the rest of the body’s posture as in photo number three.
Stretching should be performed every day. Short periods of stretching each day can help improve muscle flexibility.
If you found this helpful, please let me know in the comments, like and share with someone else you think may benefit! Also, let me know what I can help with or what else you’d like to see here at mamaletsdoit.
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