8 ways to relieve Seated Posture
12 years seated at school, to another 4 years at uni followed long commutes to work in the car to sit all day at a desk can leave you looking like a hungry hunched up neanderthal breathing heavily over the morning kill. Ok.. maybe its not that bad.. but we all know that sitting on your but all day isn’t that great for postural balance, movement freedom, and can contribute to pain and altered movement patterns. If you spend your time laminating your butt to a chair here are 8 things you can do to help relieve seated posture and restore balance.
Please use these exercises at your own risk. Take responsibility and listen to your body. Nobody knows it better than you.
1. Hang from something
Find something you can hang from. Offer your shoulder blades the opportunity to unglue from your ribcage, and create length through the spine.
Passive – Relax into the hang with straight arms, elbows close to your ears.
Active – Externally rotate your shoulder and engage the muscles that depress the scapula.
Temporary installed doorway pull-up devices are cheap these days, or even better the branch of a tree just outside your office if available are nice options to hang from.
2. Extend the spine
Open your chest and explore extension through the thoracic/middle spine. This can be done over a swiss ball, back of a couch, stool with a pillow, table, get creative but be safe.
Position the object you wish to extend over under your thoracic spine. Raise your arms overhead, externally rotate the arms so that thumbs are to the floor, and breath deep into your belly.
3. Quadruped Breathing
Being seated in a chair for long hours may mess with core patterning, inhibiting pelvic floor function, compressing the diaphragm, and making it hard to breathe.
This drill encourages core sequencing, loading the pelvic floor, maintaing a stable centre for the mobility of the limbs. The breathing is important, so don’t be shy, inhale and exhale!
Hands and knees on the ground. Hands under shoulders, knees under hips, neutral spine. Exhale and sit back into your hips as you maintain neutral spine. Inhale and rise to the start position. Remember to breath.
4. Open the hips
In a seated position the hips are locked in flexion. One of the hip flexor muscles known as Illiacus can become short and tight limiting potential for hip extension and glute muscle engagement upon standing.
In a half kneeling position, maintaining a neutral spine and level pelvis, lightly lean your weight forward so that the weight barring knee travels behind the pelvis to create a stretch in llliacus. Reach overhead with the arm on the same side as the weight barring knee to encourage the stretch.
If the pelvis loses the level position and falls into a forward tilt, you lose true hip extension and trade it for extra movement in the low back. Tuck your tail bone a little to help with levelling the pelvis.
5. Extend the hips
The Glute Bridge is a a great drill for concentric loading of the glutes and hamstring muscles. These guys can become sleepy when you sit on your butt all day.
Lay down on your back with your hips and knees flexed. Maintain a neutral spine, drive your feet down into the floor and lift your pelvis until your hips are no longer in flexion.
Explore your resting squat position. The goal is to be able to squat down, heels on the group, relaxed spine, breathing easy, and feel like its a resting position. Watch how a child squats subconsciously and easy as they play and explore the world.
Take it slow and test the waters. If you have not performed something like this for a long time, don’t just fall into a low squat and hope for the best, be safe and test what you are comfortable. Have a partner hold your hands as you slowly sit down into your hips to explore your bodies potential to rest into a squat. Alternatively hold a railing and lower yourself down.
As a rough guide the feet will be around shoulder width apart. You should be able to keep your heels down, and relax your spine. Everyones body is different, so take responsibility for your own body exploring new positions and figuring out what works for you.
If you can’t keep your heels down without falling backwards, or can’t relax your spine, try placing a riser under your heels. You can use books, timber, deck of cards, anything that will life your heel to a suitable height so that you can put weight through it, and feel relaxed. Over time as your mobility improves you can slowly decrease this heel raiser until you reach the floor.
Remember, it can take time for the body to adjust. Go slow, and be safe. If you feel some aches or pains stand up and have a walk around. More doesn’t mean better, better means better. So go for quality over quantity. Nobody knows your body better than you.
This may seem simple. But sometimes the most simple things are highly overlooked. The human body is built for walking. We are meant to move. At the risk of being blatantly obvious I will say it anyway.. Get off your butt and walk around.
Sometimes things may be a little more complicated than doing a few drills you found on the internet. Everyones history is different, and based on this history the body can learn interesting new ways of moving as compensation or survival. People have scars, injuries, car accidents, births, surgeries that can all contribute to altered movement patterning and pain. There are great techniques and therapies on offer to help unravel the human movement puzzle, to help re-awaken pain free postural balance and movement freedom. If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask.