By slouching at a desk for prolonged stretches of time, your hamstrings can shorten and weaken, pulling down on your pelvis and tilting it forward. Your upper spine hunches, which leads to rounded shoulders and a forward-jutting neck. More serious physical conditions, such as kyphosis, or the rounding of the shoulders and upper back, and lordosis, or curvature of the lower back, can result. Office exercises performed throughout the day can improve your posture and help your circulation.
Stretch at Your Desk
Perform a variety of stretches to improve your posture, and never leave your desk. For example, interlace your fingers behind your body while sitting in your chair. Turn your palms in so they face your back. Straighten and stretch your arms, turning your elbows inward and lifting your breastbone. To stretch your neck, tilt your head sideways to the left and right, holding the stretch on each side for five seconds. Allow your arms to dangle by your sides and relax your shoulders. To exercise your lower back, grab the top of one knee and pull it toward your chest. Keeping your lower back straight, hold the knee-up position for a few seconds and then repeat with the other leg. Lean forward to intensify the stretch.
Strengthening Exercises at Your Desk
By strengthening your core and hamstrings, you can prevent the anterior pelvic tilt, or swayback posture. To firm your stomach muscles, sit in the middle of your chair, holding the edge of your seat for support. Tighten your abdominals and simultaneously lift both knees toward your chest. Hold the position for a few seconds, release the position and repeat. To build up your shoulders, arms and chest, perform desk pushups. Place your hands arm-length apart on the edge of the desk. Keep your feet together and feet flat on the floor. Lower your body until your chest just brushes the desk, and then push yourself back up. Do 10 to 15 reps for two or three sets.
Stretch and Strengthen Your Body
An office space typically has a variety of locations and objects that you can use for exercise, such as door frames, cabinets and walls. For example, place your hands shoulder-width apart on a file cabinet. Stand with feet also shoulder-width apart with knees slightly bent. Bend at the waist to form a 90-degree angle, keeping your back flat and head between your arms. Hold the stretch for 10 to 15 seconds. To stretch your chest and upper arms, press your hands at shoulder-height against either side of a door frame. Slowly move your chest forward until you feel a stretch. Hold the position for 15 seconds. One of the best all-around exercises for the legs and buttocks is a deep squat. Scoot into the bathroom, and stand with legs shoulder-width apart with knees slightly bent. Drop your body between your legs, holding your arms fully extended in front of you. Perform two sets of 10 to 15 squats.
Use a Stability Ball
Practice good office posture by sitting on a stability ball. Although it takes time to grow accustomed to the ball, you can maintain the proper alignment of your spine and improve balance and circulation. You can also do mobility exercises on the ball. For example, sit upright on the ball with your arms by your thighs and feet flat on the floor. Slowly tilt your pelvis forward and extend your lower back, allowing the ball to roll back. Hold this position for a few seconds and then reverse the tilt. The ball will roll slightly forward as you tilt your pelvis back and contracting your abdominals and glutes. Start with a small range of motion, concentrating on isolating the anterior and posterior pelvic tilts. Keep your upper body and head still. To intensify the exercise, raise one foot slightly off the floor during the tilt.
- Stretching in the Office; Bob Anderson, et al.
- Knowledge Workers Survival Guide: Posture; Patrick Reynolds
- Celebrity Body on a Budget; Cornel Chin
- The Complete Book of Men's Health: The Definitive, Illustrated Guide to Healthy Living, Exercise and Sex; Men’s Health Books
- Working on the Ball: A Simple Guide to Office Fitness; Jane Clapp, et al.
- Effective Strength Training: Analysis and Technique for Upper-Body, Lower Body, and Trunk Exercises; Douglas Brooks
Kay Tang is a journalist who has been writing since 1990. She previously covered developments in theater for the "Dramatists Guild Quarterly." Tang graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science from Yale University and completed a Master of Professional Studies in interactive telecommunications at New York University.