If you spend most of your time at work sitting in front of a desk, you may be doing long term damage to your spine, back and overall health. Being sedentary for hours on end can lead to an array of health issues ranging from poor posture to higher levels of stress. Over the long haul, sitting 8 hours a day can increase the likelihood of chronic diseases such as diabetes and studies have proven that a highly sedentary lifestyle is linked to a shorter lifespan.
To counter the effects of sitting for hours on end, try doing a few simple Yoga poses every day to stretch the spine, open the hips and chest and promote good posture. Yoga poses do not have to be complex and physically taxing, but should provide a deep stretch. As with any physical activity if you experience pain, dizziness or difficulty breathing, stop immediately and consult a doctor.
Mountain Pose: Designed to open up the chest and back, this pose is perfect for undoing a day’s worth of hunching over a keyboard. Come to a comfortable standing position with feet hips-width apart, bring your hands up over your head with palms facing forward and thumbs hooked as you bend gently backwards and breathe deeply.
Standing Forward Fold: An ideal way to release stress and anxiety, this pose is one of the simplest and most effective. Come to a comfortable standing position with feet hips-width apart, bring your hands up over your head with palms facing forward and thumbs hooked as you bend gently backwards and breathe deeply.
Cat & Cow Pose: This stretch is the premier stretch for the lower back and spine. It has been used in Yoga and training, pre and post workout stretching as well as athletic warm ups and cool downs. Start with hands and knees on the floor in a tabletop position with a neutral spine. On the inhale, round the spine and curve up into your cat pose (pictured above). On the exhale, arch the back and lift the chest to come into a cow pose.
Slow Neck Stretches: A great way to loosen the neck and prevent aching from looking down at a phone all day, this stretch can be done anywhere, any time. Sitting in a cross-legged pose or simply standing up straight, lean the head to the right and extend the left arm and hand toward the ground until you feel a deep stretch on the left side of the neck. Breathe deeply and hold for a few breath cycles, repeating on the other side.
If you are unable to perform simple stretches or you suffer from severe back pain, please consult a doctor. Dr. Hamid Mir is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who specializes in a wide range of cervical, thoracic and lumbar spinal conditions. If you are interested in learning more about Dr. Mir or how to contact him, click here.