Good posture is important regardless of your profession, but it becomes even harder to maintain when you have a job that requires you to sit at a desk for eight (or more) hours a day. What’s more, with many of us still working from home, those natural moments of movement throughout the workday — like going out for a coffee, or stopping by a colleague’s desk to chat — are lost. A Microstep of setting an hourly posture reminder can help get the movement flowing again, but additional stretches are useful, too. If you’re sitting more often than not, check out these posture-improving stretches you can try right now at your desk or wherever you find yourself sitting for an extended period of time.
Shoulder and side straightener
A study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science found that a series of posture-correcting movements and stretches reduced pain levels in participants’ necks, shoulders, and backs — and this was one of them. To give this a try, put your left hand on your waist while you’re seated. Then, the study authors recommend that you “incline your body toward the left side while counting ‘one, two, three, four’” and then return to a neutral position while counting slowly, “five, six, seven, eight.” Then, do the same on your right side.
A three-part stretching sequence
Rachel Nicks, a celebrity personal trainer, recommends side bends to open your ribs, arm circles directed toward your back to open your chest and adjust posture, and neck circles to give yourself a much-needed massage. The added bonus? These quick stretches will give you a boost of energy when you’ve hit your midday slump.
Authors of the Journal of Physical Therapy Science study suggest a seated pelvic tilt. Sit all the way back in your chair, so that your back is touching the back of your seat. Once you’re properly situated, cross your arms at your chest level and grab onto your opposite shoulder, spread your legs as you arch your lower back downward, and let your neck fall so your chin is touching your chest. Hold this posture for 10 seconds as you inhale and exhale through your mouth.
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