As an Arizona athletic trainer, I work with many clients who are trying to stay healthy while working jobs that require sitting at a desk all day. Long hours of sitting – in the car, at work, at home – usually leads to poor posture and a hunched over back. Overtime, this can lead to pain and even injury! You may not be able to quit your desk job, but here are a few simple tips you can use throughout the day to improve your posture.
1. Elevate your feet at your desk.
If you sit at your desk all day long at work, you probably sit in a somewhat comfortable chair as well. Most chairs aren’t ergonomically ideal, and over time we will begin to hunch or slouch. One thing we can do is keep our knees at the same height as our hips – this will keep the pressure off our lower back and allow us to sit farther back in our chairs and remain upright. This can be achieved by simply placing some kind of block or even a large book underneath our desks for our feet to rest on.
2. Take time out of your day to wall sit and reach.
The wall sit and reach is one of the many corrective exercises here at FAST that we use to build our clients’ posture. It is an exercise that we like to say gives you “bang for your buck” because of its multiple purposes and many benefits. It provides a decent stretch for the groin, neutral alignment of the spine, and shoulder flexion (bending). To perform the stretch, sit on the floor with your back flat against a wall. Bring your feet together so that the soles of your feet are touching each other, and let your knees fall toward the floor. Then, press your arms against the wall, palms facing out, elbow bent. Slowly straighten your arms, keeping them pressed against the wall, until they are raised above your head. Doing this stretch several times a day will help your posture remain straight as an arrow.
3. Do more glute exercises to keep them from falling asleep permanently
When siting all day long for upwards of 6-8 hours, what are we sitting on? Our glutes and our hamstrings. Think about what would happen if you were to sit on your hand for just 20 minutes – it would fall asleep, you wouldn’t be able to feel it, and it would not function until feeling was back. This can happen after a long period of time to the glutes and hamstrings, which can lead to “glutes amnesia” – a weakness in the gluteal muscles. A great exercise to get the glutes firing up again are supine glute marches, which can be performed without any equipment on any floor! Simply lay with your arms (palms down) and upper back flat on the ground, hips raised, and feet planted beneath your knees. Then, keeping a straight back, lift one leg (with your knee still bent) and lower it back to the ground. Repeat on the other side.
4. Drink more water so you are forced to get up and use the bathroom
This is a simple way to not only increase your overall health, but to increase your activity level as well. If you worry about your step count throughout the day, here is an easy way to get more steps in and get those glutes back in action. We recommend drinking 2/3 of your body weight in ounces per day, and add an extra 20 ounces per pound if you exercise. For example, a 200 pound man would drink about 130 ounces of water per day, and if he performed one hour of exercise and weighed 199 pounds afterward, he would drink an additional 20 ounces, totaling 150oz throughout the day.
5. The couch stretch
Most of us like to spend some time each day after a long day’s work on the couch. It’s where we can relax and enjoy a few comfortable and quiet minutes to ourselves. Why don’t we use it to our advantage? This stretch will take your hips from a state of constant flexion to extension. Simply place one foot on the floor in front of you, and keep one knee on the couch under you, with the rest of your leg stretched behind you and the sole of your foot facing upward, resting on the back of the couch. This may stretch the quad just as much as the hip flexor, depending on how tight your hips may be. Give it a try 2 to 3 times each side for 30 seconds to see what I am talking about first hand.
Post Attributed to Wade Haras (Old Town Scottsdale Facility Manager).