During lockdown and working from home, most of us have sat for longer than ever which is why ideas on how to work out at your desk are so needed. Staring at our laptops and phones can cause migraines and back problems, not to mention it’s just generally bad for us to stay hunched over in our seats – but what’s a girl to do? We’re busy! That’s why we asked Hollie Grant (@thepilatespt) from The Pilates PT Method to give us a few tips and tricks on how to undo the damage sitting at our desks has actually caused…
1. Make sure you are sitting right
Your feet should sit flat on the floor (if they don’t put a footstool under your feet) they should not be crossed or tucked under your chair. Your knees should be at 90 degrees as should your hips. If they are not you should adjust the height of your chair. The top of your screen should be at eye level to prevent you from having to look down at your screen and when you’re typing your elbows should be at 90 degrees.
2. Strap yourself in
This may seem a bit kinky/weird/awkward but tying your upper back to your chair is a great reminder to not slump. Take a resistance band, belt, or dressing gown cord and have someone tie it around the back of your chair. Pass the ends under your armpits and tie it around the front of your chest. This will make it almost impossible for you to start to slump and pull away from your chair back. It’s one of the best ways to work out at your desk because it improves your posture overall! Over time the habit of sitting up straight (and the strength required to do so) will follow.
3. Work those glutes
When we sit down we lengthen our glutes eg they stretch. When we stretch a muscle we effectively switch it off. Ok so if we spend more time switching it off than we do switching it on it will become lazy (if you don’t use it you lose it). Make sure that you really focus on using your glutes as often as possible. Yep, if you stand at your desk you can use this method to work out at your desk – genius!
1) While standing and waiting for the printer/kettle/toilet squeeze your glutes together for 10 seconds and rest.
2) Repeat 6 times.
3) When walking up the stairs press your weight into your front leg to activate the glutes.
4) When you’re at the gym doing squats and lunges, make sure your toes are lifted and your heels are heavy to engage the glutes rather than the quads (thighs).
4. Stretch your hip flexors
When seated we shorten our hip flexors and over time they sort of shrink. This means that when we stand up they keep pulling us forwards causing a tilt in our pelvis. We must try to stretch and lengthen these out as much as possible to balance this back out. While you can’t really use this to work out at your desk, you can definitely do it before or after sitting down.
1) Start by kneeling on the floor and bring your left foot forward onto the floor almost into a kneeling lunge.
2) Push your hips forwards whilst reaching your right arm up towards the ceiling. As you push your hips forward you should feel a stretch in your right hip flexor (especially if you squeeze your right glute).
3) Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
5. Strengthen your upper back
Leaning forward all day makes our upper back muscles weaken. This means that even when we want to sit up straight our upper back muscles can only manage it for a limited time. We must strengthen our upper back muscles to oppose the temptation to lean forwards.
1) Start by lying on your tummy, feet hip-distance apart, legs straight and hands under your forehead like a little pillow.
2) Breathe in and as you exhale start to lift your hands, head, and chest away from the floor bringing your body into a long line (don’t come up too high).
3) Inhale to stay and then exhale to come back down with control. Repeat 6 times and then take a child’s pose to rest.