When it comes to stretching, do you find yourself making excuses? They might sound like this, “I don’t have time to stretch. I don’t know what to stretch. I work too much to go to the gym.”
We hear these excuses from my patients’ day in and day out. You may have your own excuse that we did not list, but in the end, you probably are not stretching and staying mobile while you are at work. Even if you have a job that is fairly active, we are willing to bet that you are not taking time to make sure your posture is in check.
In this blog, we will go over the three stretches and movements we give to our busy patients. We encourage them to do them during their workdays and while on vacation. Each of these will require very little, if any, time for you to do. We guarantee you will reduce your back pain and improve your body awareness. All of these stretches can be done WHILE YOU WORK in increments as short as 5 seconds or up to 5 minutes.
How to Improve Your Posture While at Work
Seated or Standing Pelvic Tilts
This is an essential movement to learn to reduce your back pain! Do repetitions of 10-20 while standing or sitting and pay attention to how far you can arch and round your back. This tilting motion may be tight or painful at first and that is fine! Find your neutral position and hold it there all day. You might be thinking about how provocative and ridiculous this looks, but you can practice these variations anywhere at any time to help relieve your pain. Trust us, it is a nice trade off.
Kneeling and Standing Hip Flexor Stretches
Regardless if you have back pain or not, you need to stretch your hip flexors. The following stretch can be done easily while in an elevator, at your desk, or on an airplane. Do you sit all day? Push your chair aside and drop to a knee and stretch while you continue typing. You might end up stretching 10 minutes per side if you are focused on your work! You will feel a stretch in the front of your hip while performing either of these variations.
Kneel on your right knee and place your left foot flat on the floor in front of you with your knee bent. Lean forward slightly, bringing your right hip toward the floor. Activate your glutes (this allows you to stretch into your hip flexor even more) and wait to feel the stretch in your right hip flexor. Hold this for 15-30 seconds to 2 minutes and then switch sides. You can also do this stretch standing up in a standing lunge position.
Sure your lower back may hurt, but there is a pretty good chance that your upper back and neck are curved forward as well. This upper body curvature will cause your low back to arch (stick the butt out) more as a compensation for poor posture. So, how do you fix this? Set an alarm and pull your shoulders down and back every 30 minutes to reset your posture. As you get more proficient with the movement, cut this time down to 20, 15, 10, 5 minutes until you maintain your shoulders down and back all day.
Along with scapular retraction, practicing your pelvic tilts will allow you to learn where your “neutral” postural position is when you are sitting or standing.
All of these stretches will only offer temporary relief and increase bodily awareness. To eliminate your pain for good, you should also do strengthening and training exercises. Contact us online to learn more about how we can help.
These are great particularly for those of us who have desk jobs.