Many of us have jobs that require us to sit, and usually use a computer, for a prolonged period of time. Staying in one position over a length of time will cause stress on certain areas of the body and eventually cause pain. At Integrate 360 Physical Therapy, we are great at evaluating your specific dysfunction and working with you to return to your regular, pain-free activities. But how can you avoid developing significant pain in the first place?
Sit with your feet flat on the floor or a footrest. With your feet supported, you knees should be at hip height or higher. This will allow you rolls your pelvis back slightly and feel your sit bones well. These are the bones anatomically designed to bear weight in a seated position, you shouldn't have pressure on your pubic bone. If you have a lumbar support in your chair, chances are you need to lessen or eliminate it so you can feel your sit bones properly. Most furniture is made for people who are 5’8”, so don’t be afraid to get a footrest or lower your seat height if needed!
Throughout the day, allow your upper body to round. Don’t simply slouch your shoulders, think about your lower ribs or breast bone dropping or depressing. Hold this position and breathe. As you inhale, try to breathe into your upper back while keeping your ribs down. If you feel a stretch in your upper back (between your shoulder blades) when you breathe in, you’re doing great! This helps to mobilize our spine and break up any muscular holding patterns we may have developed.
Occasionally, breathe in through your nose and sigh out of your mouth. Hold your full exhale for 3-4 seconds. As we become engrossed in or stressed out because of a project, our bodies will begin to breathe with the muscles of our neck and shoulders causing tension. Holding an exhale will allow our diaphragms to reposition and take over as the primary muscle for breathing.
Every 20 minutes or so, look 20 feet ahead for 20 seconds. This will prevent eye fatigue and break up any holding patterns you are keeping in your neck and shoulders. This is a great tip to cut down on headaches and shoulder/neck tension.
Shift your left knee directly back, behind your right. If you’ve done this correctly, you’ll feel a little more weight through your left sit bone than your right. Because of our right-handed dominate world (and many other factors), our pelvis’ tend to twist to the right. This activity will gently overcorrect the problem temporarily and allow our pelvis to relax into a more neutral position.
When you stand up to take a break or go to the copier, stand up by shifting your left knee back like in #4 above. Then lean forward and push up with your legs with your weight on your heels (you should have more weight on your left heel). If you feel like you’re legs are a lot weaker this way, or standing up is more difficult, you’re doing it right!
Begin walking by stepping forward with your right leg and swinging your left arm. Then just continue walking as usual – alternating legs and swinging forward the arm opposite of your lead foot.
While you’re waiting for your copies to finish printing, shift onto and stand on your left leg. You can keep your right foot on the ground, but move your weight to the center of your left heel. Hold this position and breathe 4-5 times. Like the seated shift above, this helps remind our bodies not to over-utilize our right side and keep us more balanced, or neutral.
Arrange your desk so that you occasionally have to reach with your left hand across your body and over to the right. Try keeping your phone on the right hand side of your desk, but reach over and pick it up with your left hand each time it rings.
When you are bent over to right, bend your upper body to the left side slightly. Your left shoulder will be slightly lower than your right. This helps to mobilize the ribcage, break up muscular holding patterns, and ensure that the diaphragm is able to work efficiently.
Cross your right leg over your left. Start paying attention to your natural tendency when crossing your legs. People typically cross their left leg over their right. This can lead to asymmetries if not altered.
This article inspired this one from the PRI official website.