The Office Villain

Posture 1.jpeg

LOUISE MCCALLUM

PERSONAL TRAINER

Why are postural problems becoming so prevalent? Why do so many complain of back pain, shoulder pain and neck pain? What are we doing that is so destructive to our health and fluency of movement? 
….. In a nutshell, the answer is SITTING!

 

Whatever your fitness level or current regime, most will benefit from adding or supplementing your weekly routine with these techniques. They are designed to fight the postural problems and consequential injuries I see growing more prominent in our society. 

Technology has quickly began to dictate our lives, so much so that it's wreaking mayhem on our structural integrity. Sitting for extended periods of time, in the workplace at a desk, on the lounge at home, on public transport for the daily commute, in cars.... Does this sound like you?

Patterns of structural imbalances are becoming more widespread and can often be associated with prolonged periods of sitting. We were made to move, hunt and gather, however it'd be foolish to think technology will grow obsolete - so here are just a few tips to assist you in combatting this dilemma. 

Maybe you haven't fallen victim to the evil attack of the chair and feel you've dodged the bullet! Let me assure you, at some point it will effect your life whether it be with pain or discomfort. This impacts the majority of the population, whether you work in an office or not these preventions will benefit EVERYONE! 

Remember, prevention is better than rehabilitation.

1. Row to horizontal external rotation 

•3 SETS / 12-15 REPS•

Why it's important?

When sitting at a desk our posture is often collapsed with our shoulders following the path of least resistance. Our arms are positioned in front of us with our shoulders rounded inwards. Being in this position for extended periods of time places the muscles, tendons and ligaments in the front of the shoulder in a shortened position, creating tightness.

On the flip side, the opposite (antagonist) muscles become long and weak, because they are poorly stimulated having been in a constant state of stretch.

When poor movement patterns and positions are repeated, certain muscles tighten and the opposing muscles to those become weak. This impacts on the mechanics of your joints, influencing range of motion and everyday functional movement. These exercises will help you achieve muscle synergy, improving the structural alignment of the joint.

2. Lower Trap Raise

•3 SETS / 10-12 REPS•

Why it's important?

Inactivity and a sustained stretched position on the muscles controlling the shoulder blades movement, causes them to roll forward. When this poor postural state is repeated day in and day out at your desk, restrictions develop around and in the shoulder joint and the muscles responsible for keeping a healthy shoulder alignment simply give up. This defeat causes the shoulder blades to wing and shift forward around the side of the ribs in an effort to keep the range of motion that has been lost.

The body will forfeit stability in exchange for recovering lost flexibility - not great! This reinstates incorrect functional movements and often results in pain. 

One of the responsibilities of the lower trapezius muscle is to retract and depress (pull inwards and downwards) the shoulder blade. This is a great exercise to correct shoulder imbalances, more specifically it focuses on rectifying anteriorly hunched shoulders. 

3. Reverse Vertical Crunches

•3 SETS / 12-15  REPS•

Why it's important?

The hip flexor muscles run through your pelvis to attach to the top of your legs. When in a seated position these muscles become short and tight. Although when seated we aren't voluntarily contracting these muscles, they eventually become short and overactive simply because they just spend so much time in that same position.

On the contrary, your butt becomes inactive and weak. Remember - opposing muscles - short and tight and the others long and weak - bad for joint alignment - not what we want! This particular combination often causes the front of the pelvis to drop and the back to rise (as seen below with the anterior pelvic tilt - look familiar)? This leads to an excessive arch in the lower back, with the result being lower back pain.

 

The reverse crunches aim is to stimulate and strengthen the lower abdominals that are often neglected.
They will help combat the effects the seated position commonly has on lower back pain and pelvic floor strength.

 

4. Clam Glute Medius Abduction

•3 SETS / 12-15 REPS •

Why it's important?

This is a fundamental exercise of most track and field athletes, including Usain Bolt! Our booty muscles are like our powerhouses! This exercise focuses on the gluteus medius specifically. This muscle lies more to the side of your butt cheeks, and it's primary role is to stabilise your hip bones when you are standing, and control horizontal alignment of the pelvis when the opposite leg is not in contact with the ground. 

From sitting all day we weaken our posterior family, and weakness throughout the gluteal muscles is now extremely common as a malfunction.

One of the reasons our glutes suffer is what's known as reciprocal inhibition - when muscles on one side of the joint relax to accommodate force from it's opposing muscles on the other side of the joint. Hip flexors tighten up and glutes become lazy and weak. Our poor glutes also have the burden of the continual pressure from our bodyweight directly above it. This can cause blockage of blood vessels and neural tissue, leading to decreased neural drive and reduced blood flow to the already underused muscles. 

Glute clam raises are a great exercise to help counterbalance the antagonist action of the often dominant hip flexors and adductor muscles.

Now you have the tools. You’re just four exercises away from good posture and pain relief. 

I hope this helps! Good luck!