Routine by Jaclyn Phillips, Master Trainer, RYT300, PN1
Photography by Paul Buceta Hair/Makeup Monica Kalra
Constant computer and desk work has taken a toll on our postures, especially if you have a less than ideal work-from-home space. The average human head weighs about 12 lbs and when your neck is bent at a 45-degree angle hovered over your computer, your head can exert nearly 50 lbs of force on your neck. It’s no wonder that our spines, as well as the muscles and ligaments in our necks, backs, and shoulders are feeling the pressure.
Aside from a posture that resembles fairy-tale villains, this immense pressure can cause severe pain and discomfort, along with ramifications for our breathing, sleep, and even mood. Until your workstation can become more ergonomic, take matters into your own hands to offset all that hunching with a two-pronged approach that targets tight muscles and releases them, while also strengthening the muscles needed to maintain a better upright position.
Reverse the damage that sitting for prolonged periods of time creates by relieving tightness in the neck and back and strengthening the posterior chain.
A resistance band and a chair.
Perform 1-2 rounds of the Strengthen & Prevent protocol each morning before beginning your workday to activate good-posture muscles. During the workday, perform 1-2 rounds of the Stretch & Release routine when tension relief is needed.
STRENGTHEN & PREVENT
Repeat each movement 10 times, per side for unilateral movements.
Stand a few inches away from a wall, with your back to the wall. Slightly tuck the pelvis so you feel your lower back working to come in contact with the wall. Keeping a bend in the elbows, place your arms on the wall (A) and slowly move them up and down (B), as if performing snow angels with bent arms.
Trap 3 Raise
Stand facing the back of a chair with a back that’s at least hip height. Hinge from the hips keeping a flat back and rest your left arm on the back of the chair, using your forearm as support for your forehead. Let the right arm hang straight down (A). Keeping the arm straight, engage the shoulder, and draw your arm forward and up, squeezing the shoulder blades together (B). When you reach parallel to the floor, pause, then slowly release to the start position. Repeat on the other side.
Set up a resistance band at forehead height and grip the band in both hands using an overhand grip (A). Keeping your arms parallel to the floor and elbows high, draw the band towards your forehead, squeezing your back and shoulders (B). Hold, then release slowly.
QUICK TIP: Maintain a neutral gaze with your chin parallel to the floor and avoid moving your head forward to meet the band while pulling.
On hands and knees in a tabletop position, inhale as you arch your back and drop your belly towards the floor (A). As you exhale, reverse the motion and round your back towards the ceiling, tucking your chin and dropping your gaze (B).
STRETCH & RELEASE
Hold each position for 3-5 breaths and repeat 1-2 times per side for unilateral movements.
Sit cross-legged with a tall back, and place your right hand on your left knee and your left hand behind you. Grow taller with an inhale, and on the exhale, slowly twist to look over your left shoulder. To release the position, bring your gaze back in front of you, then untwist the spine. Repeat on the other side.
Stand or sit with a tall spine and shoulders back and down. Tilt your head to one side, drawing your ear towards your shoulder. On each inhale, release the stretch slightly, then deepen the stretch on each exhale. Come back to neutral, then repeat on the other side.
Stand with feet hip-width apart and bring your hands to your hips. With a micro-bend in the knees, hinge forward from the hips, crossing your arms to hold onto opposite elbows. Relax your neck and sway gently from side to side. As you return to standing, bring your hands back to your hips and engage your core to support your lower back.
Stand with your feet as wide as is comfortable with toes pointing slightly outwards. Clasp your hands behind your back and, as you exhale, hinge forward from the hips, keeping a micro-bend in the knees. As you fold forward, your hands may come off your back to increase the stretch through the upper body, but if they don’t, that’s okay. To come back to stand, release the hands and engage the core.