In, life– every singe day– we spend so much of our time with our spine rounded forward: brushing our teeth, stting on the toilet, washing our feet, reaching in the fridge, loading the dryer. Even looking down all the time to read, or cook, or do just about anything. Here are some nice moves to get out of that position and get your spine to move in the opposite direction! These should feel pretty good and should not be painful– if they are, you might need to modify. Speak with your physiotherapist about how to make it appropriate for you!
We all slouch when we sit. A lot. Our spine is meant to move in all directions, so it’s not like rounding the spine forward– or slouching– is bad in itself, it’s just that so many of us do this movement all the time, and rarely put our backs in any other position. Think about it. Sitting at work, sitting while driving and eating, sitting in front of the television or visiting with people– it’s all sustained positions where our lower back is essentially fully bent forward, which is the slouching position. Then you bend forward to brush your teeth, sit on the toilet, reach in the fridge, load the dryer etc.
A great position to get your back out of the rounded forward position to do the opposite is called a “sloppy” push up. This arching of your back mechanically gets the joints of the spine gliding how they are supposed to, yet rarely does in life. It should feel smooth and easy, so if it’s feeling stiff or tight or sore, it’s telling you that you need to work through something. If that soreness continues, see you physiotherapist who can help you get to the point that the arching movement is pain-free.
Check out this video on variations of the sloppy push up, as what you do with your hands and feet dictate what part of your spine bends the most. You can see other helpful One Minute Wellness videos on our YouTube Channel at Elevation Physiotherapy & Wellness.
Even if your work station is set up ergonomically, it is best to change up your position during your work day. Our bodies are meant to move, and so many of us have jobs that require us to be sitting for extended periods of time.
These days it is common to have a standing desk or platform, and that is a great way to change your position during work. Here is a nice variation to the standing option that isn’t an obvious solution. Give it a try!
So many people are working at home at the moment, and have set up their work station at the dining room table. All of these months later, perhaps your neck or lower back has become stiff or sore. Our bodies are meant to move, so if you are sitting for many hours for work, and not getting out like you typically would, then you could be too sedentary for these past months. You no longer have a commute, and outside of work you’re sitting in front of the television or reading—over all of this time, that can lead to a stiff or sore back or neck. It can be easy to employ some strategies to make your work day efficient, and keep yourself moving as well:
Set up your chair: You do not need an expensive chair with all the adjustments to be helpful. Important features would be a chair that is height adjustable, so that you can keep your feet on the floor. It is easy to add a supplemental lumbar support—even roll up a towel—and place it in the small of your back to support the natural inward curve that is in your back when you stand.
Regularly move in your work day: They say that “your best posture is your next posture”, so set a reminder to beep at you every hour, and stand up momentarily and stretch your spine backward (Fig. 1), or lean backward over the top of your chair (Fig 2). Both of these movements are positions that should not be painful, but get you out of the common rounding forward position in which we tend to live. If you have a meeting with one or two other people over Zoom, why not make it a “walking” meeting?Move around the block to have the meeting, and then write any notes when you get back.
Vary your working position: As odd as it sounds, a nice alternative to sitting could be working on your stomach with some pillows under your chest to keep a slight arch in your back. You would keep your laptop on the floor or bed, and this position is nice to get your spine out of the typically rounded forward posture (Fig. 3). You can also stand for part of your work day by putting your laptop on a higher surface, or an external keyboard and mouse that allow you to work at the correct height. You could also make it a practice to stand every time you take a telephone call. If you have a wireless headset, you could walk around as you’re on the call.
All of these practices are easy to establish in your work day to allow for more position changes and movement. As we continue to be at home more than ever before, your spine will thank you for it!
In life, we look down all of the time– our hands are in front of us and we are constantly looking down at what our hands are doing, right? Over time, your neck might become sore, and here is a nice exercise to help counteract that. Ideally, this neck movement should feel like nothing… really. It should feel smooth and easy– if your neck feels stiff or tight, keep doing this neck movement to try to make it easier. It should never be painful– if it is, consult with your physiotherapist to make sure it is appropriate for you.
This unprecedented time of COVID-19 has many of us working from home, going out less, driving less… basically everything is “less”… except sitting. Most of us are sitting around the house like never before, and most people will be slouching for long periods.
Over time, this can put your lower back in a less-than-happy place, so you can try to prevent that– or help it– by trying this simple move. The “sloppy” push up should not be painful. Ideally it should actually feel like nothing, which is weird to think like that: we generally don’t do movements or exercises that don’t feel like they’re stretching or working muscles. But the thing is that this movement should feel smooth and easy, and you’re trying to keep your muscles relaxed. If it is painful, check with your physiotherapist to see if it is right for you.
Having a firm roll to support the natural curve in the lower back is a key way to prevent slouching in essentially any kind of chair. Use it by keeping your butt close to the back, and pushing the roll down as far as it will go, then just relax back around it. Initially it might feel intrusive since you aren’t sued to it, but it’s a feel you’ll come to love!
At Elevation Physiotherapy & Wellness, we love the lumbar roll! Learn more here
It is surprising to many people to learn that your back muscles are likely not the cause or driver behind back pain. Your brain recognizes that pain is not normal and can go into “protective” mode and the muscles can spasm or not work normally as a result, but they are not often the cause of the issue. Check out this video below to explain more:
We all know that there isn’t likely one movement or exercise that is appropriate for everyone, but the “sloppy” push up can be helpful for many people. People tend to sit slouched and spend WAY too much time with their spine rounded forward, so this is a nice movement to get out of that, and nothing you happen to do in your day puts your back near there unless you make a point of it!
Remember, the “sloppy” push up should not be painful. If it is, it’s best to consult with your Physiotherapist to see if this exercise is appropriate for you at the moment.