Do you ever feel like your back is essentially morphing into a tortoise shell as a result of being slumped over a computer all day? Yeah, you take breaks away from the laptop, but then you just slump over yet again while you check your phone and scroll through Twitter. Poor posture from sitting is a real struggle guys, so making sure you stretch out and move periodically throughout the day should be at the top of your to-do list.
Along with a variety of other health concerns that might arise from too much chair and screen time, an effect on your spine health and posture is definitely something to look out for and take care of. But instead of focusing on the plethora of adverse physical symptoms of sitting, let's focus on the positive things that cultivating good posture can bring into your life!
According to the Mayo Clinic, good posture can boost your mood, improve your digestion, ease all those aches and pains in your body, and prevent injury. If you ask me, that all sounds like more than enough reason to begin a practice of walking with a book balanced on your head every morning, aside from the fact that I just low-key think that's really fun to do.
So, if you're worried about your possibly poor posture and your super sore back, fear not, as there are plenty of really simple moves and exercises you can incorporate into your day to help get your spine in line in no time.
I learned this one from an old dance teacher of mine as a quick trick to fix your posture, and I personally employ these simple movements every time my shoulders are curling inward toward each other like they want to kiss.
Lift or scrunch your shoulders up to your ears, then roll them back, guiding your shoulder blades gently together and down your spine, and lifting your heart up slightly. Let out a few exhales while you're at it, and bring your belly button to your spine.
Repeat, but keep in mind that rolling your shoulders back like this even once is a great, quick way to improve your posture.
There's a method of movement called "the Alexander technique," which teaches people to change the movement habits of everyday activities to get rid of harmful tension in the body. Part of the technique specifically focuses on posture when you're simply sitting down. The exercise in the video above explains the micro-movements you can make with your alignment to make sitting a less static (and slumped) experience.
Imagine that, while you're sitting, your upper body is still standing; it's just that you are "standing" from your sit bones. Keeping your chin tucked slightly in toward your neck, your tailbone focused down into the floor, and the entirety of your rib cage lifted and supported by your breath. Draw your shoulders together gently and down your back.
Remember, being mindful of the quality of all your movements is just as, if not more important than intentional stretching and exercises.
I know I've sung the praises of this exercise before, but it's because it is such a wonderful daily practice for spine, muscle, and hamstring health.
Simply stand with your feet parallel and your tailbone pointed directly down toward the floor. Bring your belly button toward your spine, and beginning with the crown of your head, slowly roll down to the ground vertebrae by vertebrae until your hands touch the floor — or as close as you can get.
I like to take a big inhale and exhale as I roll down, exhaling a little more with each vertebrae.
Another thing many of us tend to do is sit with our chin out and forward like it's leading us through a maze, or at least going to lead us right through our computer screens. As you might have guessed, it's not a healthy posture for any part of the spine.
A really simple fix for this is to do the opposite action: Reverse the direction of that forward-leaning chin, and tuck in and back toward the neck.
It'll feel awkward at first, but you'll definitely notice a stretch in the back of the neck and a lift of your whole head.
OK, so this one is for after work, but it's great for your spine and can reverse all the "C" curve business that happens while you're conducting your business business.
Lay on a yoga mat or rug with your belly down, your legs rotated inward with the tops of your feet on the floor, and your arms laid out next to you with your palms on the floor.
Letting an exhale guide your initiating movement, lift your head, arms, and legs all at once, drawing your heart toward the wall in front of you, and stretching your legs back. Hold, and repeat.
This one looks simple and boring, but it actually feels pretty amazing.
First, stand with your back and head against the the wall. Bring your hands, with your palms facing outward, up against the wall. Hold and breathe, then let your arms come loose and forward off the wall, rounding your shoulders slightly. Return them to the wall and repeat.
Try to do at least a few of these moves and stretches each day, and remember, cultivating mindfulness with your movements is the best habit of all.