I always remember as a child that at family parties, or other places where there were lots of adults around, that if I sneaked myself onto a chair, I’d soon have to give up my seat and retreat to the floor, so that the adults in the room could have their deserved respect in the form of a comfortable chair.
I recall the ignominy of being ejected from the domain of the grown ups – but now when looking back I think back at I got the better deal in the end!
The chair is not your friend.
I’m currently sitting in a chair at my kitchen table writing this, my second blog post of the day. I can feel a stretching in my back, a little tension in my shoulders, and a tightening in my hip flexors.
(I have a standing desk on the way from Amazon, which I’m very much looking forward to using!)
Being the person I am, generally speaking I cannot sit down for long anyway – and my attention span was never that great when I had a 9-5 office job (just ask the long list of ex-bosses who I fell out with!) – so I tend to not get rooted in these positions for so long that a bit of stretching and movement doesn’t return my posture back to a balanced and comfortable state.
However, I know that’s not the case for many – and besides, lots of people even if they wanted to be able to get up and stretch and move around, hardly have the time to do so!
Well this short blog post aims to help you in two ways:
- Tell you why you really should move around a bit – or more likely, give you a timely reminder as I’m sure you all know anyway.
- Demonstrate that you can change how you feel in about 30 seconds – even without leaving your desk
If extending your life by adding more movement to your days isn’t a big enough incentive to start now, then I don’t know what is!
A 2005 Australian study found that those who sit for more than 11 hours per day are 40% more likely to die in the next 3 years. Even people sitting between 8 – 11 hours per day have a 15% increased chance.
Personally, that made me pause to get up and do some stretches, I don’t know about you!
A huge amount of people I see as a shiatsu practitioner, as well as a martial arts instructor, suffer from bad backs and shoulders. This can be anything from a bit of stiffness, to chronic pain.
Back pain itself is said to be the second most common cause for sickness at work, and whilst a lot of these are obviously not caused by sitting at a desk – you can be sure that a great many are.
I would say that at a very conservative estimate that half the people who I see for shiatsu treatments have complaints relating to their neck and shoulders, and the vast majority of them have desk bound jobs. The resulting constant nagging pain, headaches and often sleepless nights could be cured with just some basic movement consistently throughout the day and one or two simple adjustments in lifestyle.
Quite often people will complain of bad backs when the issue actually lies elsewhere – the shortening of the hip flexors and hamstrings whilst sitting, this causes a tilting of the pelvis and bad posture in the lower back.
However, instead of reaching for those pain killers, read on… the fix is very simple!
So here are three very easy exercises that you can do at your desk to relieve yourself of common aches and pains that are very often found amongst those who sit at a desk for work.
(If you have any pre-existing health conditions, please read the instructions below clearly and check with a medical professional if you have any doubts as to whether you should do them).
Neck – nod your head up (slightly tilted back) and down (rest the chin on your body), as though you are gesturing an exaggerated ‘yes’. Then turn your head from side to side as though you are clearly indicating ‘no’. Do each one 5-10 times.
Shoulders – squeeze your shoulders up, nice and tight, up towards your ears… hold for 5 seconds… and relax. Do this 3 times
Back – sit upright and imagine your spine is very straight, rotate your body around your spine to the left, then to the right – do this 3-5 times
It’s a simple as that, yet adding such exercises into your day several times, could save you a fortune in therapist fees, and painkillers – as well as loss of pay due to any time off!
Additionally, keep these good new habits going when you leave your desk and head home for the day, try not to head straight for the kitchen chair or the sofa – integrate movement and stretching into all of your life, in and out of work!
Sitting on the floor is a great way to keep mobile and not locked into seated positions which may appear comfortable at first on those lovely soft sofa cushions – but at the end of the day, as I learnt the hard way in my childhood – there’s nothing wrong with sitting on the floor!
Keep an eye on upcoming video course releases from White Crane Online as we’ll be releasing a whole host of new online tutorials on how to stay healthy in the workplace throughout the day – in mind and body – with stretches, breathing exercises, and meditations that can all be done without leaving your desk!