For most of us, a large part of our day can be spent in a seated position. Think about all the time that you spend driving, at your desk, on the sofa, eating, having a coffee – it all adds up to a lot of hours on your bum!
If we lead this sedentary type of lifestyle, the chances are that we will experience some postural issues at some point. Over time you may start to notice an increase in neck or shoulder pain, tension headaches, low back pain or issues with your hips. Lots of these will occur because we tend to have a more relaxed (slouching?!) posture while sitting down but also because we are not using our core muscles to stabilise us, as we do when standing.
A simple way to change your posture and movement patterns, and introduce some elements of Pilates into your everyday life, is to stand more often. Over the next week why not try some of these ideas and see what differences you start to notice:
- if you are at your desk for long periods during the day, get up and stretch (see below) or have a quick walk around your work-space every 15 minutes; if you’re really short on time, just stand up and sit down again every 15 minutes
- look for more active ways to socialise with friends – eg.
- grab a coffee-to-go and take it for a walk rather than sitting at a café
- visit places which will involve some walking (eg. wander around a NT trust property rather than going to the cinema)
- encourage friends to join a Pilates class/running club/dance class with you
- if you’re travelling on public transport alternate between sitting and standing every 10 minutes – don’t try this while driving!
- when you’re watching television, stand up / change position every 15 minutes (or when the adverts come on) – also try limiting TV time.
- notice if you always sit on the same section of your sofa and/or in the same position (eg. legs crossed the same way every time) – if you do, making some changes to those habits will make a huge difference to how you feel in your body. It will feel weird to start with but only because your body has become accustomed to being in a certain position – mix it up a bit and your body will quickly adapt
- finally, if there’s anything that you do which keeps you in one position for prolonged periods, try to change your posture at regular intervals – eg.
- if you’re reading, keep changing your position and be aware of your head posture (as the head starts to move forward, the neck muscles will have a whole load of extra work to do, so think of stacking your head above your rib cage or using cushions behind your head for support)
- craft activities often involve looking down at our hands; if you notice that this is an issue for you, take regular breaks to bring your head and neck back into a neutral position and add in some gentle stretches
- gardening can often involve long periods spent in a bent-forward position – try kneeling down to avoid this and take regular breaks so that you can stand tall again
Click here for a short video with some ideas for rotational stretches for your upper back.
These are great to do when you have been sat down for any length of time. You don’t need to do them all – find one or two moves that feel useful and add those to your day whenever you can.
As you start to notice the amount of time you spend sitting down, you can also start to make some small changes which will have a positive impact on your body. Give it a try and let me know how you get on…
If you missed the earlier posts in this series, you can find them here & here