Work is a pain. By far the most common source of physical discomfort and postural problems I see stem from long hours sitting at a desk in front of a computer. Without fail my clients come to me with stiff necks, inflexible spines, tight traps and shoulders that are hunched up and forward. Not to mention sore lower backs from hours of compression in a chair and the dreaded “mouse arm.” The all too common pain pattern of wrist, arm and finger pain. (Amazing how such a tiny motion can wreak such havoc on a body. See my previous post Stretching For wrist And Arm Pain.)
But you can break this cycle with one simple change to the way you sit. Seriously.
Most of the problems associated with long hours at a desk are from remaining rigid and motionless for hours at a time. Our core muscles remain flaccid, while our back, neck and shoulders remain hunched and tensed in unnatural positions. Such rigidity leads to reduced circulation, loss of muscle tone, spinal distress, chronic tension and poor posture.
Taking time out to stretch and move throughout your day is a smart idea, but why not also change the way you sit altogether? The key is to create an unstable surface to sit on. By using an active seating disc (also known as a vestibular disc) on the seat of your chair you will completely transform the way you sit. A seating disc is nothing more than a flat rubber circle that is inflated, creating a squishy and unstable surface for you to sit on. (You can also achieve the same effect by sitting on a balance/exercise ball, or balance ball chair.) Active sitting on a seating disc turns the passive act of sitting into a dynamic activity by causing your postural muscles to engage. When this happens you begin strengthening your back and abdominal muscles, improving your balance, posture and spinal stability and increasing blood flow to your previously flaccid muscles.
You just turned a sedentary activity into a minor workout. Way to multi-task! Pepper in some breaks for stretching using the following videos as guides and you will feel like a new person!
Office chair stretch: hips and glutes
Office chair stretch: spinal twist
Office chair stretch: chest and shoulders