“A man is as young as his spinal column.”
– Joseph Pilates
In a typical 40-hour work week how much time do you spend seated? Do you have a good ergonomic chair that allows you to sit tall with your deep intrinsic postural muscles to avoid slouching and leaning back into your low back? Do you find yourself noticing your low back feels stiff or achy towards the end of the day or work week?
Does your current office space look like this? If the answer is no, then you need to make some modifications to create the optimal work space environment for you and your body.
How we physically stack our bones in our body impacts our overall health and wellbeing. Keep in the mind the adult human head weighs approximately 10 lbs. In a healthy spine with good posture we see the ears are aligned over the shoulder joints and hip bones. If we shift our posture forward by only 1″ we then start to place 20 lbs of added stress onto our spine. If we shift our head forward by 2″ we place an added 30 lbs of stress onto your spine. This added weight over long extended periods of time physically changes our spinal column leading to postural deviations and for some – low back pain, headaches, migraines and more. Ask yourself, what type of posture do I have? Find a wall space near you and do this simple wall test.
Check Your Posture With the Wall Test
- Find an empty wall without any wall art or plants that may interfere with your movement.
- Stand with your feet flat on the ground (best if barefoot), with your heels no more than 6 inches away from the wall.
- Put your back flat against the wall as best as possible.
- Then place your head against the wall as well (remove any hair ties or ponytails that may cause your head to protrude forward).
- Keep your eyes focused on the horizon to avoid tilting your head downward.
- Raise your arms out to shoulder height and bend your elbows placing your arms into a goalpost like position.
- Place your forearms in contact with the wall as best as possible.
- Slowly glide your arms overhead moving each arm independently of one another stopping if you feel any restrictions or limitations. We never want to place a shoulder joint past the point of stalization. Avoid any popping or clicking noises.
- Maintain your eyes looking out on the horizon.
- Slowly return your arms back to the starting position.
- Repeat this movement from goal post to snow angel like movements for 10 repetitions.
- If your back arches too much causing you to rib flare, you can’t get your forearms or wrists to touch the wall or place the back of your head in contact with the wall these indicate poor postural alignment.
Professor Alan Hedge from Cornell University suggest we break up our day in “30-minute cycles of 20 minutes of sitting, eight minutes of standing, and two minutes of moving while standing.”  Hedge’s recommended sit-stand-move cycle, suggests that you should alternate between sitting and standing up to 16 times per day!
7 Movement Tips
- Set an alarm on your smartphone to vibrate or ring every 30 minutes to remind you to practice 20 minutes of sitting, 8 minutes standing, 2 minutes moving.
- Fill your water bottle up to stay hydrated throughout the day.
- Practice moving your shoulders around inhaling to elevate upwards your ears like a helium balloon rising up into the sky and exhaling to soften your shoulder blades down your back like melting ice cream.
- Draw circle-like movements with both shoulders in the counterclockwise direction to help open up your upper thoracic / chest area for 1 to 2 minutes. Note no need to move in the clockwise direction since we spend too much time already in this position when working at your computer.
- Tune into where you maybe holding some tension and stress within your body. Take 10 full inhalations and 10 full exhalations to physically push out the stress from your body to clear the space.
- Notice if you have any tension in your jaw area or if you’re grinding your teeth at times. Close your eyes and tell yourself this simple mantra “soft eyes, soft ears and soft mouth” and repeat 10 times.
- Use the Tension Tapper to tap away your tension in your low back, upper neck, etc.
We have more blogs specific about setting up an ergonomic friendly office workstation related to keyboards, chairs, mats, electric vs. manual standing desk converters, bicycling vs. treadmill desk options and more. If you found this blog post helpful please share with your friends, family, co-workers and neighbors.
We have additional blog post specific to pilates, pre/post natal, bone building for osteoporosis/osteopenia, mindful meditation, restorative yoga therapy, partner and endurance training. We believe in treating the whole person with a holistic approach and blend our knowledge and training of movement, nutrition, massage therapy and traditional chinese medicine.
We love teaching mindful movement and are here to support you in your journey. We offer customized online remote training from anywhere in the world. Contact us today to get started and learn to move with less pain and greater ease. We look forward to partnering with you and answering your movement questions and/or concerns.
Assumption of the Risk: By attempting any of the exercises, you do so at your own risk. We make no representations, guarantees or warranties that the information or exercises on this blog are appropriate for you or will result in improvements of your medical condition or function.
Not medical advice or physical therapy. This content is intended to provide information and instructions on general exercises that may help increase strength, mobility, and function for specific areas of the body. It is not intended to be a substitute for obtaining a medical diagnosis or medical or physical therapy advice from a qualified licensed provider. You should seek medical advice from a qualified physician or physical therapist before trying any of the exercises or self-treatment suggestions on this blog, particularly if your pain is from a traumatic injury or event.
- HEDGE, A., Sitting and Standing at Work.
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