Welcome to the age of the hunchback, where many of us spend our days hunched over computer screens. With shoulders rolled forward and spines rounded, this archetypal posture of the twenty first century is wrecking havoc with our posture, bones and joints. So can we dodge those aches and pains of the desk-job?
“Sitting still is one of the worst things we can do for our body, but having a desk-bound job doesn’t mean you need to be static all day long,” says Sally Lovett, founder of corporate yoga and wellbeing company, Stretching the City.
How to: relax your shoulders and neck
The saying that we ‘carry the weight of the world on our shoulders’ isn’t far from the truth, as the shoulders and upper back area is where tension and stress will tend to sit.
“Throughout the day shrug your shoulders up to your ears and then release them all the way down, lengthening out your neck and lessening the tendency to have your shoulders unhealthily hunched up around your ears,” says Sally.
How to: loosen your spine and increase muscle mobility
Too much sedentary behaviour can reduce the mobility of our torso and weaken the muscles that support our spine. Facing forward with both feet flat on the floor bring your right hand to your left knee and twist to the left; hold on to the back of your chair with your left hand for some extra leverage.
Sally’s advice? “Exhale as you move in to the twist and inhale as you ease off. Take 3 breathes each side and just like your shampoo bottle tells you: repeat.”
How to: counteract a compressed chest
Be it typing on a keyboard or tapping away on our phones, unless we’re sitting up super straight, we inevitably round our shoulders forward and collapse and compress our chest. This prevents us from taking deep, energising breaths, as well as playing havoc on our neck muscles.
“Move away from the back of your chair and interlace your fingers behind you. Dragging your shoulders down and back whilst drawing your arms away from your back take 5 energising deep breaths,” Sally explains.
How to: Shake up the desk-life entirely
Sally advises that you get rid of your chair all together and experiment with an increasingly popular standing desk! But if standing up all day feels a bit much, she suggests spending some of the day standing and sitting.
“Alternatively, sitting on a swiss ball will work your core, as well as the muscles in the back, legs and glutes to help stay balanced.”
How to: take a mindful moment
“At times when you’re feeling overwhelmed or flustered, take a few moments to simple pause,” says Sally.
“Watch your breath, feel your feet flat on the floor and simply notice how you feel. Gradually expand your awareness to include your visual surroundings and the sounds around you before returning to your task at hand and notice if some of the tension you felt before has melted away.”
Being a hunchback, is not the new black. Why not pin these tips to you desktop and set an alarm to review them daily?
Sally Lovett is the founder of Stretching the City, the author of The Wellbeing Guide to London and a Holistic Health coach. Stretching the City has expanded from small yoga classes around Angel and Shoreditch to cater for everyone, everywhere: boardrooms, living rooms, and local spaces. From drop-in classes to organised events Sally is trying to spread the importance of simple, holistic, unpretentious yoga for your wellbeing.
www.stretchingthecity.com | Follow via @StretchingCity