Whether it’s sitting at a computer all day or slouching while you stand, bad posture is a problem that can lead to back pain and other physical symptoms. If your job requires sitting for long periods of time it’s easy to get caught up in a lazy slouch that can have a number of negative effects on the body. Poor posture can cause the spine to curve, preventing the back from evenly distributing pressure and leading to excessive strain on certain vertebrae and parts of the back. This curving is reversible if caught early enough and can be undone through proper stretches, exercises, and conscious efforts. If you’re worried about your posture, here are some stretches and exercises that you can practice from the comfort of your own home to help strengthen your back and related muscles:
Shoulders-Back Pectoral Stretch
A lot of people that use computers get into the habit of leaning forward as they sit, leading to stiff back muscles, tense pectorals, and poor blood circulation. To counteract this habit you can do a quick shoulder and pectoral stretch that will leave your body feeling nice and relaxed. Place both hands behind your back and interlock them. Next, lift your arms as far backwards as you can without lifting your shoulders; hold your arms there for 10-15 seconds. After releasing, give your body a break and then repeat the stretch 2-3 times. You should feel your lower back and pectorals being stretched and they should feel more relaxed after completing a few reps. Another version of this stretch is to spread your legs while you stand and bend over, letting gravity pull your arms down. If you have tight hamstrings then this alternative will not be beneficial to you and you should stay standing.
Lower Trapezius Exercise
If you face the problem of rounded shoulders then the culprit may be weak lower back muscles. The trapezius is a large muscle that covers your shoulders and upper and lower back that can cause curvature when not properly stretched. The exercise to fight this tenseness involves lying on your stomach on the floor and putting your arms out sideways, bent at the elbow 90 degrees. You should be facedown, with your arms in high-five like position, straight out sideways and then bent at the elbow to extend vertically. Keep your arms at the same angle and lift both arms by squeezing your shoulder blades and pulling your shoulders backwards. Hold this for 3-8 seconds and then release. Do this 10-15 times in a row and then take a break. Repeat this quick exercise 3-5 times in total for a total trapezius workout.
The Doorway Stretch
Stand in a doorway and place your arms on the frame. Your arms should be out straight to your side and then bent 90 degrees upwards on the frame. Slowly lean forward and you will feel slight pressure on your arms and then stretching in your chest and shoulders. Hold this stretch for about 30 seconds before relaxing and repeat it 2-4 times every day.
By practicing these three stretches you can improve your posture, thus minimize the negative impacts of sitting at a desk all day. You can also drastically strengthen your back, making it more flexible as well. If you are experiencing any concerning back or posture problems, contact Downsview Chiropractic about making an appointment. We strive for friendly and professional service for all of our patients.