Recent studies have suggested that sitting for a period of time is more harmful to our health than smoking.
The initial changes are subtle but the symptoms of prolonged sitting can worsen over time. You may start to notice you are suffering a mild headache, tiredness, lower backache and maybe a stiff neck, so you remember the advice and sit up straight. But this reminder doesn’t last long and you can easily fall back into the comfortable desk-slouch.
These little pains will gradually worsen if not dealt with and only then will you remember to sit straight, but it may be too late. Here is a set of exercises designed to rebalance your body and counter the effects of sitting:
Sitting pulls the shoulders forward, resulting in tight, straining sensations in the upper back and neck. To help this, lie down on a rolled up yoga mat with your head and hips supported by the foam cylinder. Relax your shoulders, taking three deep breaths.
Upper back roll
The upper back is designed to move. When sitting for a long time, it can stiffen, leading to increased pressure in your neck and shoulders.
1. Lie on the rolled mat, keeping your hands under your head. Lift your hips up and roll back and forth along your upper back (you may feel some pressure release, but this is a good sign).
2. Position the rolled mat under your lower shoulder blades and drop your hips to the ground. Arch your upper back gently over the mat and repeat.
Remaining seated all day can lead to weakening of the gluteals. These are responsible for stabilising the pelvis and can help keep the body upright when standing and walking. Keep your arms to your side and push down using your heels. Lift your hips up into the bridge position, hold for three deep breaths and repeat five times.
Sitting at your desk all day weakens the core muscles. This weakness can lead to slouching and in turn, symptoms of painful backache. To keep your core muscles strong, practise the plank exercise. Rest your forearms on the rolled mat and get into the plank position. Relax your shoulders and hold for three deep breaths.
Try to repeat this set of exercises twice a week for an improved body balance.