In my last post, I talked about my favourite stretches for improved posture. Although stretching is a useful tool for reducing pain and tightness in muscles from the long hours sitting at your desk, it is only half the battle. Because sitting leads to muscular imbalances, tight muscles are only one part of the problem. The other aspect that needs your attention, is strengthening. Your chest, neck and hips get tight from sitting, while their opposing muscles groups suffer the opposite problem, and become under active. The most affected muscles are the core stabilizers, glutes, and rhomboids.
Here are a few of my favourite exercises to help strengthen these under active muscles
Core: Dead Bug
Begin by lying flat on your back, then bring your knees up to a 90 degree angle and your arms straight in front of you. Using the opposite arm and leg, extend them outward as straight as you can while focusing on pulling your belly button to your spine and trying to keep your lower back flat on the floor. With control, bring your arm and leg back to the starting position, and then switch sides. Perform 2-3 sets of 12 reps per side with about 30 seconds rest between each set.
Glutes: Glute bridge
Begin lying on your back. Bend your knees and plant your feet as close as possible to your bum. From here, think about squeezing your glutes in order to lift your hips up. Remember to keep your core engaged so that you don’t feel an arch in your lower back. Lower all the way back down to the ground, then repeat. Perform 2- 3 sets of 12 reps with 30 seconds rest between each set. If you wish to increase the difficulty, this exercise can be performed 1 leg at a time,
Rhomboids: Bent over row
Take one dumbbell in each hand, palms facing each other. Hinge forward at your hips bringing your chest toward the ground without arching or rounding your back, and ensure that your knees are not locked out (if you’re new at this exercise, try watching yourself in the mirror to ensure that you keep your back flat). Steadily pull the weights toward your body keeping your arms close to your sides. Think about squeezing your shoulder blades together and your shoulders down away from your ears. Pause and slowly return your arms to the starting position. Perform 2 – 3 sets of 12 reps with 30 seconds rest between each set.
Perform these exercises regularly, in combination with the stretches in my last post, and you’re well on your way to better posture, and reduced pain!