We all know that sitting for hours at a computer is bad for us. It can lead to neck and back soreness, and for some, nerve irritation and even damage. Our solutions have largely been focused on altering the positions we are in while we are typing away on our keyboard at work (and increasingly on our laptops at home.) Legions of ergonomic assessments have been done adjusting screen height and distance, chair modification all the way to sit to stand work desks. Undoubtedly these have been helpful allowing us to be more productive with less pain and injury. But we’ve been missing out on a key element to health at work. We are designed to move.
Being stationary in any one position is not what our bodies were made for. It’s only in the last 150 years or so that the majority of the population would even think they could be working while sitting or even standing in one place for the entire day. It’s not just good positioning that we need, it’s good movement. And good movement consistently. Working out at the gym or on the bike path is great for an hour 3-5x/week but it will not save us from the abnormal degeneration of our bodies if we spend the other 8-10 hours per day sitting at a desk.
Here are a few ideas to keep us mobile at our office space;
Most of the day whether we are sitting or standing we have our hands out front and below our waist. Here’s an opportunity to be somewhere different.
- Scoot back from your desk
- Tighten your fingers, engage your muscles through your hands.
- Tight enough that you could do push-ups through your fingertips!
- Take a deep breath. At the same time reach your arms, your elbows and the backs of your hands to wall behind you as you fill your lungs fully and inflate your chest.
- As you breathe out lead your elbows down to your sides and into your back pockets.
- Let your arms fall to your sides
Repeat with deep intentional breaths 3 or 4 times.
Now the legs!
- Scoot back from your desk and to the edge of your chair. (Don’t fall out)
- Straighten your legs out in front of you. Heels on the floor or on your fancy ergonomic foot rest
- As you take a huge, lung filling breathe lock your knees tightly (get your quad muscles fired up), bring your toes up towards your head as far as you can (feel your calf muscle stretch!) and squeeze your gluteus muscles as hard as you can. Get tall in your chair!
- Slowly let your muscles relax and you breathe out
Repeat with deep, intentional breaths 3 or 4 times
Let’s work on your spine!
- Scoot to the front of your chair
- Put one hand behind you, right up against your back
- Cross the other hand in front to your opposite shoulder
- Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale twist your shoulder and your head back towards your back hand
- Hold that position and breathe in, then as you breathe out continue to twist as far as you can
- Repeat for a total of 3 breaths in and out to each side
Back to the legs!
- Bring your chair up as tall as you can
- Scoot to the front of the chair
- Bring one leg back behind you with that foot on your toes
- Sit tall, breathe in and as you breathe out drive your heel behind you stretching out the front of your leg
- Repeat with the other leg
All of these movements are meant to counteract the static sitting positions that have led to so many injuries we see in the clinic. Take any and all of these movements and use them as you are able. Improving posture is helpful but our bodies need to move.