If you are required to sit all day eg at a computer, it is important to take frequent breaks. Ideally, you should get up and walk around every 20 minutes. If you cannot move from your desk then try this microbreak …
Move your bottom to the edge of your seat. Sit up with your shoulders, your back and your neck straight and with your head back over your shoulders, not forward. Have your feet flat on the floor and your thighs sloping down so that your knees are lower than your hips. Hang your arms down by your side with your palms facing forward. Hold this position for 20 seconds. Every hour take a longer break, eg walk around the room, do a different job, make a cup of tea.
Make sure that your chair is the right height, that the computer screen is placed correctly in front of you and that you are comfortable whilst using it. If you have a swivelling chair, use it rather than twisting your upper body.
Postural exercise to help prevent/reverse round shoulders and head forward posture
Put a stall, strong box or exercise ball against the wall. Sit on it, making sure that your feet are flat on the ground. Your bottom and your head should be against the wall. Let your arms down by your sides, turn your arms out so that your palms are facing outward and the backs of your hands are against the wall. Your knees should be level with or lower than your hips. Imagine a piece of string attached to your head and to the ceiling. Let the string pull your head up toward the ceiling so that your neck lengthens upwards.
Sit like this for 5 – 10 minutes
Straighten up UK
Learn how to improve your posture in three minutes with the BCA’s quick exercise programme “Straighten Up UK”. Designed to strengthen the spine and help your joints work properly, it’s suitable for all ages, just visit the British Chiropratic Association Website.
Make sure to always look after your posture at home and at work. If you are required to lift heavy objects, bend from your knees and keep the elbows as close as possible to your sides. After you have got a good hold on the object, get up again by straightening the knees and keep the object as close as possible to your body. This will minimize the stress that lifting puts on the vertebral column. Always avoid lifting whilst twisting your spine at the same time. Instead of twisting your spine move your feet to turn your body in the direction you need to move. Lifting and twisting at the same time put you at a high risk of injury resulting in low back.
Movement and relaxation
Many activities in day to day living eg sitting at a desk using a computer, doing a repetitive job or sport eg painting or brick laying, playing hockey, football or running, worry or stress often cause us to carry excess tension in our muscles.
Over a short period of time this will probably not cause problems but over days, weeks and years the affects can become problematic causing chronic pain in the neck, shoulders, hips or back. Treatment at the Twyford Chiropractic Clinic includes both hands on therapy to help your joints move more freely and your muscles relax as well as exercises that will help you learn how to move in a way that suits your body reducing tension so you move more efficiently
Postural and movement patterns are built up over a lifetime, it will take time to make changes. You will need to persevere. It will be worth the effort.
Alexander Technique Exercises to help your muscles relax, improve posture and relieve pain
Recommended reading “The Posture Work book” by Carolyn Nicholls. This is an excellent easy to follow guide. I have used the exercises myself and recommend them to others.
Active Relaxation semi supine
Lie on your back with your knees bent up so that your feet are flat on the floor. Your feet should be approximately hip width apart. Rest your head on a book or a small pile of books between 1 and 2 inches high. Your neck should feel relaxed, not pushed up or falling backwards. Your arms should be bent at the elbows and hands lying flat on your abdomen. During this exercise do not let your knees fall inward or outward rather always lengthening upwards.
Take a moment to allow yourself to become ‘quiet’ and relaxed. Now the active part begins. Remember there is no physical or muscular effort in this exercise it is about thoughts and visualization.
Begin by asking your body to lengthen so that your head and your coccyx move away from each other. Do not force this, do not use physical effort just imagine your body lengthening.
Ask the front, the back and the middle of your neck to lengthen and be free of tension. As your neck and body lengthen your upper back will widen and relax.
Now focus on your legs, think about your thighs and knees lengthening towards the sky. Keeping your feet still imagine your toes lengthening away from your heels and your forefoot widening.
Move your focus to your armpits, let them widen away from each other, imagine each shoulder lengthening away from your spine. Now imagine your upper arm lengthening from your shoulder/armpit to your elbow. Then, from your elbow to your wrist and hand. Finally let your fingers lengthen away from your hand.
You should carry out this exercise daily – ideally for 20 minutes. If you can only manage 5 minutes, still do it. It will help your muscles learn to relax and reduce the amount of tension they carry.
Sit down on your “sitting bones” with your feet flat on the floor. Imagine your head and neck lengthening towards the sky. Then imagine your whole spine lengthening. Now imagine your left shoulder moving outwards away from you so that it lengthens and opens. Relax for a moment to check you are still breathing. Now leading with your nose turn your head to the left and then back to the centre.
Repeat with the right shoulder and right rotation.
Repeat 5 times on each side.
Stand with your wait balanced evenly between left and right side. Imagine your spine lengthening. Let your arms lengthen downward so that your fingers are pointing towards the floor and palms turned inward to your thigh.
Place your right hand flat on your chest just below your collar bone. This hand is resting and feeling the movement in your left shoulder.
Now rotate your left arm at the ball and socket shoulder joint at the top of your arm. Make sure the movement is happening at this joint so that the shoulder leads and the hand follows. Rotate until you palm faces forward. Be conscious that your shoulder does not lift or hunch upwards, you should feel slight downward motion of your shoulder blade on your ribs. Let your arm turn in one continuous motion it will move so that it is about a foot away from your body. Keep turning your arm until your palm is facing the ceiling. Be sure you are still breathing. Let your fingers and arm lengthen and feel your back widen.
Now let your arm bend at the elbow so that your forearm lifts and fingers come up to rest on your shoulder. Make sure your neck is straight, not tilted to one side. Again lengthen your spine. Now making sure that the movement comes from the ball and socket joint draw circles with your elbow.
Now let your left arm relax back down to your side and repeat the exercise on the other side.
Repeat 3 times on each side.
A Guide to Better Movement by Todd Hargrove
Todd Hargrove is a Feldenkrais practitioner and Rolfer he has written extensively. His book, A GUIDE TO BETTER MOVEMENT is easy to read, helping you understand why you are experiencing pain and how you can learn better movements to combat pain. There are 25 movement exercises in the last chapter that I have used myself and recommend to others.