If you sit at a desk and work on a computer for most of your workday, you already know that your posture suffers. Here is a secret which will help you become more aware of your slouched shoulders and learn to prevent all pain and injuries caused by poor posture. Say goodbye to tension headaches, upper back strain, shoulder aches and unattractive posture!
After six years of helping office workers deal with job-related pain, I discovered that following two easy steps will guarantee an improvement in the quality of daily life in front of a computer.
To prevent the hunchback look, not to mention tension headaches, tightened shoulders and neck muscles, you need to follow 2 simple steps:
1. Stretch out your chest
2. Strengthen your upper back
Stretch out your chest
Your chest tightens because your arms are held out in front of your body all day in an unnatural position. Typing and using the mouse, for example, can cause chest muscles to shorten. Pulling the arms forward for many hours a day contributes to a slouched look, giving the appearance of tiredness, lack of confidence and overall weakness. You can easily perform a chest stretch by doing the following:
- Place the inside of your forearm against an open door frame slightly above shoulder height
- Turn away from the door until you feel a comfortable stretch in the chest
- Be sure to hold the stretch for at least 15 seconds and perform it on both sides, 2 times per day every day
Strengthen your upper back
If you work at a computer long enough your upper back is bound to become strained. With prolonged sitting, we allow our heads to hang too far in front of their bodies…mostly because of back fatigue. Over time, this postural mistake will pull and weaken the muscles in the upper back which are supposed to hold the head straight. By strengthening the upper back, we can prevent the head from falling forward and stop many of the problems that come with it (tension headaches for one!). Perform standing rowing exercises to build back the strength lost in the upper back and you won’t believe the difference.
- To get into position, keep your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Bend forward slowly at the waist so your back is at a 45-degree angle. Make sure to keep your back straight, and your head positioned forward, not down at the floor. Try to avoid slouching your shoulders.
- With your arms hanging at your sides, hold light weights (soup cans or light dumbbells) in each hand, making sure to position your head properly by looking at the wall straight ahead of you.
- Pull the weights straight up toward your body, concentrating on squeezing the shoulder blades together for a count of 3
- Slowly release the weights straight down to your sides and repeat
- Do 3 sets of 10 every day
I can’t stress enough the importance of these two exercises. The chest stretch allows your shoulders to move back, and the rowing not only pulls your shoulders back, but also increases strength in your upper back, keeping your head in a safe, proper position and preventing future neck and upper back pain.
About Drew Nesbitt BA, TCMP, Ac. is executive director of A.C.T. Workplace Massage (www.act-now.ca), and a Practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture specializing in office pain management in Toronto. A.C.T. provides individualized workplace massage programs to help high-stress offices achieve a healthier and happier workplace, ensuring that productivity remains high and office harmony remains positive. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive our FREE info pack which contains all the information you need know to start a workplace massage program in your office. For clinic information, visit www.drewnesbitt.ca