Do you get a sore back sitting all the time?
We talk a lot about the position of the spine in relation to the pelvis in Pilates. But do you take this info into your daily life?
During 2020 we found ourselves sitting more. At a desk or table, on an inappropriate chair, or with the laptop literally on our lap while lounging on the couch. Yes, I know you do it too!
We seem to now have a condition I am calling the ‘2020 Back’. Not only is our back stiff and sore but the back of our legs, upper back and shoulders and even the neck have taken the brunt of our bad sitting posture.
So, what can we do? We have to sit for work, right? Right. But there are things we can do to combat this.
- Get up and stand as often as you can. Even better…. get up and move around! Do ten deep squats, swing your arms around for 5 seconds, do a standing roll-down (touch your toes) …. Just MOVE. You see, the thing with our body is that it is designed to MOVE. Some people use standing desks, great, but we also don’t want to be standing all day, particularly if we do not have the correct standing posture. Sitting all day shortens and slackens muscles that we then want to have at their optimal best and this is just not going to happen.
- Set an alarm for every 30 minutes and stand for 2 minutes when it goes off
- Every time the phone rings, stand up for the call. Or if it rings too frequently, only stand when a particular person calls (like your boss, or assistant)
- Put items you need on the other side of the room – filing cabinet (do we even use them anymore??), printer/copier etc so you have to get up to access them
- Be aware of your feet. Have you crossed your legs or your ankles under the chair? If so, be conscious to that movement and uncross them. By crossing your legs, you are lifting one side of your pelvis and leaning on the other thereby shortening some muscles and overworking others.
- Have you slouched down into your chair? Ideally, we should be sitting in a neutral position, but this can sometimes be hard work. By placing a rolled-up towel under your bum but behind your sitz bones (the boney part of your bum) and allowing the chunk of your bum to be in front of the towel on the chair, you will be tilted into a neutral sitting position which is not only easier to hold but will alleviate many of the aches, pains and stiffness associated with sitting. (See pic below)
- Lift up your monitor. Looking down at our screens, whether it’s a computer or a phone etc, promotes a forward head position which causes strain on our neck and shoulders. Put some books under your screen/monitor to lift it up to eye level and take the pressure off.
- Massage is a prevention. Most people wait until they are so sore that they can’t move properly before seeking someone for a massage etc. As a massage therapist of 25 years, let me tell you this…..If you get regular massages by a quality therapist your incidences of pain and stiffness will decrease markedly. I no longer massage but I do see someone for a massage regularly. This helps me not only with my sciatic and arthritic pain but also aides with lengthening the muscles which have shortened throughout my daily activities.
Most of all, BE AWARE. Be aware of the position you put your body in. Take control to gain control.
Movements to do to help reduce the symptoms of bad sitting posture:
- Pelvic tilts – pull your abdominal muscles in and up to create a tilt in your pelvis. Then relax. Try to only use your abs, not you glutes (bum) or drop your ribs….just your abs. Do this nice and slowly for 30 seconds
- Deep squat position – not ‘squats’ as an exercise but as a position. Stand with your feet apart (and turned out if you need to), heals down, bend at the hips and knees until you are all the way down. Hold on to something if you need to and lean your body weight onto your heals as you try to get your shins (between your knee and your ankle) as vertical as you can. Put your arms/elbows on the inside of the legs/knees. You can then use them to help push apart the legs and open the hips – if you can, if you are still attempting to get your heals down don’t worry about this part). Hold this for 40 seconds.
- Shoulder activation – swing your straight arms around in circles. Forwards, backwards. Not too fast, remember to take control of the movement so you avoid further damage.
- Twists – stand with your feet apart and firmly planted. With hands on hips slowly rotate to one side. Use the shoulders to help pull the ribs around but keep the hips facing forward. Make sure you look to where you want your upper body to move to. Start to speed it up a little but not too much as you want to keep control of the movement and not use momentum.