The body needs movement – a great variety of movement – to function optimally. By moving, your muscles stay toned and can perform their functions. Your joints are lubricated and articulate smoothly.
If you stay in the same sitting position for long hours. Your body moulds itself to this shape (rounded shoulders, tight chest, flexed hips and knees). Any movement to get out of that shape feels like an effort. Your joints become stiff, your muscles feel tight and need stretching. Simply because they’re lacking some essential movements.
And it’s not just muscles and joints that crave movement. But also your organs, your bones, your circulatory system, your lymphatic system, etc.
Every function in the body relies on muscles contracting. By contracting and relaxing, muscles squeeze on the veins and help push the blood back towards the heart. Drain waste products via the lymphatic system and feed your cells.
Not moving is simply not an option if your health matters to you.
Yet, many of our jobs require that we stay relatively still. Or in a narrow range of positions for extended periods.
It is really helpful to become aware of this and seize movement opportunities when they arise. Whether it’s during, before or after work. Ideally in all of these situations!
It requires a little bit of planning. And may involve increasing your walking time including to and from work. Volunteering to run errands on foot. Sitting only when you have to rather than out of habit. Making your meals from scratch instead of letting someone do all the movement for you.
Small changes are best as they are easier to implement and more likely to become part of your normal routine.
It is important to move more whilst at the computer. But it is also important to move well. In other words to change positions in ways that will help your overall health and well-being. Involving more of your body parts. It is essential to introduce changes slowly so the tissues have time to adjust.
- Be aware of any rounding in your lower back. You would ideally be sitting on your sitting bones (rather than your sacrum). To avoid compressing the vertebrae in your lumbar spine. It may be difficult to do this because your tissues have adapted to a tucked pelvis.
- Sit on a rolled towel to make it more comfortable. Whatever you do, you should be relaxed. Sit on the edge of the seat to let your core do more of the work, instead of outsourcing it to the backrest.
Do what you can, even if it’s just a few minutes to start with. You’ll soon get better!
- Be aware of any excessive curving of your upper back. It would ideally be relaxed and reasonably straight, to avoid compressing the vertebrae.
- Be aware of any rounding of your shoulders. Where are your elbows? If they are out to the sides, it is very likely that your shoulders are internally rotated. Drop your elbows down towards the floor. Let your shoulder blades relax down, without forcing.
- Be aware of any forward movement of your head. Where are your ears in relation to your shoulders? Are they a long way forward? Then your cervical vertebrae will not be in a good place. Slide your chin back towards your throat – gently, of course. This will create a double or triple chin, which shows how your tissues have adapted. It may not look great right now but it is the only way to make it better in the long run!
In the picture on the left, I have a rounded back. My head is forward, my neck muscles are overworking, my cervical vertebrae compressed, restricting blood flow.
In contrast, in the right picture. My upper back looks flatter, my ears are in closer vertical alignment to my shoulders. My neck muscles are long, my cervical vertebrae are stacked on top of each other, allowing circulation.
Your turn now!
Aim for progress, not perfection. Perfection, in this case, would be having my ear on the same vertical line as the top of the shoulder.
Find a comfortable position for now. To encourage your body towards a more neutral alignment. Where your body can function optimally.
Finally, beware of over-correcting your posture by introducing more tension. Squeezing your shoulder blades together and lifting your rib cage is best avoided. Correcting tension by tension is not sustainable and will only make matters worse. Aches and pains won’t be far behind!
If you feel yourself slouching, take it as a sign that it’s time to change position.
Drop your head down with a straight upper back, chin near your throat and relax there. Focus on your breathing and the tension-releasing effect of gravity.
Lift your arms out to the side with your palms facing upwards and then back down again.
Roll your shoulders very gently without squeezing your shoulder blades.
Ideally, have a whole-body movement break every half hour: stand up, take a walk, let your arms swing naturally.
Give your body the movements it is craving for!
I would be happy to assess your positions and movements in the workplace and coach you through all of the above. Feel free to send me an email at isabellebrough[at]btconnect[dot]com
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