It been said that ‘sitting’ is the modern-day smoking. We spend our days crouched over our desks, phones, newspapers, G&Ts and even our bikes. Logic would dictate that if we spend a huge amount of time in a particular shape, it's probably going to affect our posture, and maybe give us a few aches and pains along the way. It’s time to mobilise the spine, open the chest, and strengthen the back. Here are my top tips to combat that office hunch...
You can do these stretches at home, or even at work (if it won't result in an awkward meeting with management), to help combat your desk-bound daily life.
Open Your Chest
Find a wall and place your hand about 20cm above shoulder height with your fingertips pointing back. Start to turn your chest away from your hand to create opening, especially across the pec minor, and savour for a glorious 20 seconds. For even more joy, bend the knees, or take the opening to new parts of the chest by trying a few different arm angles.
Strengthen Your Back
Weakness in you mid and upper back means your shoulders will tend to slouch forward. You might not enjoy this (!), but bend your legs, take your pecs to your knees then straighten and lift your arms higher than the ears, palms facing in - hold it! Remember the feeling of the muscles engaging when you next sit tall. For an extra challenge, get on to tip toes too.
Take one hand over your head and behind you to the spine and the other down past your waist and behind – try to clasp your hands at your back. If they don't meet, hold your top or a strap. Gradually bring your elbows toward the centre line without your back bending, or moving your chin down! Hold for 30 seconds, in any seated position – this is great after a good arm session in the gym too!
Give yourself some space and stand with your legs wide, so your palms can just about touch the floor when you fold forwards. Try to keep your spine parallel to the edge of your mat as you twist through the spine and raise one arm to the sky, turning chest and arm congruently. Making sure you keep each side of the neck long, turn you gaze towards your top hand, ensuring you can see it with your bottom eye.
Reclined Chest Opening
Now for a more enjoyable one. Place something firm but comfortable, like a yoga block or firm pillow between you shoulder blades. Turn you palms up, let your legs release, allow your chest to open and your torso to relax – call it ‘opening your heart to the universe’ if that’s your thing! For something more subtle, use a rolled up 'cigarette shape' blanket, down the whole spine.