As a busy London chiropractor, I often help clients who have poor posture as a result of sitting for long periods. In many cases, they are also dealing with lower back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, or have a tightly compressed spine — all because of prolonged sitting.
While I can make chiropractic adjustments to relieve some of the back pain that a client is experiencing, the client must also avoid sitting as much as possible. This can be difficult if they are forced to sit down all day while working or at university or school.
Fortunately, there are several simple exercises you can perform while at your desk to improve your posture. These exercises can be performed throughout the day, helping you to keep your spine, neck, and shoulders correctly aligned — eliminating any related back pain.
What is good seated posture?
Good posture is sitting, standing or walking in a position where there is the least strain possible on your body’s muscles and ligaments. When in a seated position, that means:
- Sitting with your back straight and shoulders back.
- Having all 3 natural curves of your spine present
- Keeping your knees bent at a right angle with both feet flat on the floor
- Distributing your weight evenly on both hips
- Keeping your arms at 90 degrees to your torso, on armrests or on a desk
- If using a monitor, keeping it at a position where you are looking straight forward
- Using a chair with lumbar support
Even if you sit with good posture, it’s important to avoid sitting in the same position for more than 30 minutes. Regularly stand up, walk around, and perform the following stretches.
Exercises to improve your posture while at your desk
These exercises* will help to strength your back, neck and shoulders. They will also serve as a reminder for maintaining good seated posture throughout the day.
Lift and release your shoulders
It’s common for people who sit down for long periods to develop rounded shoulders. It is caused by an imbalance of muscles in the neck and upper back from having poor posture for a long time.
Certain muscles in the neck (pectoralis major and minor) become shortened and tight, while other muscles in the upper back (trapezius,latissimus dorsi and rhomboids) become weakened and stretched. You can stimulate these muscles by stretching throughout the day.
One of the first stretches to try is a simple lift and release of the shoulders.
- Sit in your chair with your feet flat on the floor and spine straight.
- Pull your shoulders up towards the ceiling, holding them there for between three to five seconds
- Let your shoulders drop.
- Repeat 5 to 6 times every hour.
This is another excellent exercise for avoiding rounded shoulders. To perform Shoulder Rolls:
- Sit in the same position, with your feet flat on the floor and spine straight
- Take a breath in, then pull your shoulders back and push them towards your ears
- As you exhale, finish the rotation by dropping your should towards your chest, then to a neutral position
- You can also perform this exercise in the opposite direction
- Repeat 5 to 6 times every hour
It’s very common for people sitting down for long periods to develop a forward head posture, with a curved neck (often called “Text Neck” as this is a position people who text find themselves in). Fortunately, there are some very easy fixes to this common problem, including neck rolls. Too perform a neck roll:
- Gently lean your head towards your right shoulder
- Relax your neck and let your head roll towards your chest
- Continue rolling your head towards your left should so you are looking left
- Repeat the exercise going in the other direction
- Perform at least 3-4 neck rolls
The trapezius is a major muscle group located in the upper middle section of the back and the neck. This muscle group is responsible for moving your shoulder blades and extending the neck. Regularly stretching these muscles with a trap stretch will help you maintain good posture.
- Start by sitting tall in your chair with feet flat on the ground
- Place a hand over the top of your head and gently pull your head towards the shoulder
- Let the hand that isn’t pulling your head simply hang down
- Perform one to three times for each side, holding the pose for between 30 to 60 seconds
This exercise will stretch your chest, abdominal and back muscles. It will also help you reset your posture after being in the chair for an extended period.
- Push your chair back and stand as straight as possible with feet hip-width apart
- Stretch your arms out to your sides with palms facing forward (at right angles to your body)
- Rotate your arms so your palms are facing behind you and your shoulders are facing forward
- Repeat two or three times
This exercise can help you maintain correct back and shoulder alignment. This can be performed sitting or standing.
- Stretch your arms out to your sides with palms facing downward (at right angles to your body)
- While keeping your spine straight, move your arms in small circles
- Perform 10 repetitions spinning your arms forwards, then backwards before having a short rest
- Perform 3 more sets
Invisible breathing technique
This technique was developed by Dell-Maree Day, founder of The Invisible Exercise. It is an excellent way to reset your posture and practice some deep breathing.
- Start by sitting on the front half of your chair with feet flat on the floor, directly under your knees.
- Look straight ahead and sit as tall as possible while remain relaxed. You will feel the spine’s natural curves return.
- Sitting in this position will allow your body to take deep breaths. Breathe in deeply and as you exhale, concentrate on exhaling all of the air in your system out from sternum to waist.
- Practice at least 6 deep breaths each hour. Your colleagues probably won’t even notice you doing it, but this technique can greatly benefit your posture.
Doing these 7 exercises at your desk on a regular basis will help up you to improve your posture and help minimize the risk of back, neck and shoulder pain.
If you require a London chiropractor to help you improve your posture, contact us today at MotionBack Chiropractic on 0207 112 5408.
*If you have any concerns or existing health conditions then it is advisable to seek advice from a chiropractor or other health care practitioner before undertaking any new form of exercise as they will be able to advise what’s appropriate for you.