As technology has advanced in the past 30 years, the number of desk jobs has increased all over the world. While this has made us a more efficient and productive society, it has also encouraged a sedentary lifestyle that has a significant impact on our bodies. If you are someone who is required to sit all day for your job, particularly if you are looking at a computer screen while doing so, then here are three strategies that you need to implement to stave off stiffness and pain:
Change positions as often as you can.
The longer you sit, the more time gravity has a chance to take a toll on your body. You end up either slouched back in your chair with no support to your lower back, or you have your shoulders rounded forward and upper spine bent. Preventing this from happening over several hours is almost impossible, so getting up every 30-60 minutes for 3-5 minutes at a time helps combat gravity’s effects on your body. If you have the ability to switch to a standing desk for parts of your day, that’s even better.
Reverse your posture.
This doesn’t mean sitting ramrod straight all day every day – that would lead to its own set of problems. This simply just means occasionally doing exercises throughout the day that facilitate the opposite movement of sitting. Three simple ones that you can perform anywhere, including work, are as follows:
- Scapular Squeezes – Simply squeeze your shoulder blades together (without hiking them up towards your ears). Hold this for 3 seconds and repeat 10-20 times.
- Chin Tucks – This doesn’t mean bringing your chin to your chest. I like to describe it as you’re pretending to pull away from someone you don’t want to kiss, or you’re trying to make a double chin. Hold this position for 3 seconds and repeat 10-20 times.
- Doorway Stretch – Find a doorway and put your arms on either side of the frame. Stagger your stance and lean forward so that your weight is mostly on your front foot and you feel a stretch in the chest and front of the shoulders. Hold this for 20-30 seconds and repeat 3 times.
Exercising outside of work has numerous health benefits. It allows you to gain postural muscle strength and flexibility that will help you avoid gravity’s toll on your body. It also introduces some cardiovascular benefits that are virtually nonexistent if you are sitting all day. Exercise is also a proven stress reliever, and we’ve all had those stressful days at the office that can weigh on us mentally and physically.
One caveat: you must do something that isn’t sitting-based. Do not go to the gym and ride a stationary bike every day. Walking, running, lifting weights, yoga, Pilates, or anything that gets you out of that sitting posture is recommended.
Consistently performing these strategies might seem like a lot of effort. But if you prioritize them, it will eventually become habit and you will feel much better at the end of those long days. Trust me, your body will thank you.