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Are you an office worker? Do you sit at a desk all day? Do you feel like the position you’re in for long hours is taking a toll on your body?

Believe me, I know how you feel..

In the last few months, I’ve spent a lot of time sitting down and working on the computer. Writing content, marketing, networking, doing program design for clients, answering emails, the list goes on. And although I really enjoy the work that I’m doing, the positions I’m in while working aren't ideal for my body and I’m starting to feel it.

My upper back was never very loose, but now it feels tighter than ever. My glutes are suffering as well. Long periods of sitting don’t feel great on the backside. I’ve been doing more work on my hips so these don’t bother me as much, but my hip flexors have always been tight due to the amount of squatting I used to do. So they need to be worked on as well.

It’s not always obvious where to start, especially when everything hurts. Sometimes it’s just easier not to do anything, even when you know you’ll be paying the price in the long run.

I’m going to help you target the areas that need work and give you the tools to take care of your body. All the exercises can be performed without needing any gym equipment. 

 

What You Need To Do

Unglue your upper back and shoulders

The position you’re in when typing on a keyboard cause your shoulders to drift forward and down. Unless you regularly move your shoulder blades through their full range of motion, your shoulders simply remain stuck forward and turned inwards. This will cause problems anytime you’re trying to perform an activity with your arms going overhead (hanging, pressing, handstands, etc..).  

 
skeleton upper back
By looking down at the screen and the keyboard, you end up leaving your head (all 12 pounds of it) in front of your body. This increases the work that your upper traps and neck muscles need to do so your head doesn’t fall forward. Over time, this rounds your upper back beyond its natural curvature, putting even more strain on all the muscles in that area. 

The key to “ungluing” your back and shoulders is simple: movement. But just flailing your arms around won’t do it: you need to move with purpose and in a way that will have a lasting impact on the whole system.

Perform all the stretches in the videos below to make your back feel better with just a few minutes of work. 

 
 
 
 
Wake up your glutes

When you’re sitting on a chair, your glute muscles are compressed by the weight of your body. This pressure over time makes it hard to properly use these muscles when you need to.

 
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The main function of your glute muscles is to extend your hip joint. But because your hips are constantly flexed when you sit, you never actually use the glutes. They remain dormant and “stuck”. When a muscle or muscle group isn’t working properly, other muscles get overworked, which can lead to aches and pains. 

To make sure your glutes are always working optimally, perform glue bridges regularly. You can increase the difficulty by adding a band, a weight, or both. 

 
 
 
 
Stretch your hamstrings

The hamstrings are a muscle group located on the back side of your thighs. These powerful muscles help both extend the hip and flex the knee joint. When sitting, this muscle group remains in a shortened position.  

 
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Your body is great at adapting to the stimulus you expose it to. If you run frequently, your body will increase it’s cardiorespiratory and cardiovascular capacity, so you can keep running longer and faster.

If you leave a muscle shortened for long hours every day, your body will adapt by keeping this muscle shorter, because you’re not actually using it’s whole length. Think of it as “use it or lose it”.

To keep your hamstrings loose and flexible, spend some time stretching them each day. This can be done on the floor or while sitting on the edge of a seat/bench. Focus on keeping your back flat and feeling a stretch in the back of your thigh. 

 
 
 
 
Loosen your hip flexors

As we saw earlier, our hips are flexed at 90 degrees when we sit. Again, your body adapts by shortening your hip flexor muscles. This can cause postural issue when we stand back up.  

 
 skeleton hip flexor
 
To prevent this, spend some time in the half kneeling position. This will help re-establish a good pelvic position (see video) and keep your hip flexor muscles loose and limber. 
 
 
 
If you don't spend time in the gym or with a trainer, make 10 or 15 minutes each day to keep your body functioning optimally, using the stretches and exercises linked above. These can easily be done during the commercial break of your nightly tv show, or right upon waking. 
 
 
" Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live"  
Jim Rohn
Sean is a personal trainer and online coach based in Vancouver, BC. He focuses on beginner strength training and online programming for recreational lifters and athletes. He believes in the value of hard work when applied to a smart training program. Sean has a keen eye for good movement and encourages a positive lifestyle to support good training results.

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