Studies show that a sedentary lifestyle harms the body, even if you go to a workout in the morning or evening. These warm-up exercises in between work will help to avoid back and neck pain.
Sitting is called “new smoking”. It’s a habit ingrained in our lifestyle: we are sitting at the desk, in the car, on the couch. Problems with posture and sedentary lifestyle have worsened over the past two years and due to periodic remote work. According to the British Heart Foundation, prolonged sitting is associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes, even if you are not overweight. Also, one study found a link between prolonged sitting and increased depression and anxiety. “Sitting is a hidden behavior—” said Jacob Meyer, associate professor of kinesiology at the University of Iowa, lead author of the study. —It’s something we do all the time without thinking about it.”
By the way, even if you are physically active outside of sedentary time, you are not immune from the so-called “pandemic posture”. “The bad effect of sitting too long on health does not depend on whether you are physically active or not,” explains Stuart Biddle, professor of physical activity and health at the University of Southern Queensland in the UK. —These are different behaviors, just like smoking is different from dieting.”
According to sports scientist Professor Greg White, nonspecific lower back pain can be associated with a complex combination of biological, psychological and socio-environmental factors, and it needs to be treated comprehensively. The UK National Health Service also links lower back pain “with a feeling of stress or exhaustion.” Therefore, a comprehensive approach and revision of all aspects of life is so important so that the pain does not turn into chronic.
When blood flow to connective tissues such as discs and ligaments decreases and pressure on the lumbar spine increases, pain occurs. The natural antidote to this pain is movement. Experts note that activity should be as diverse as possible in order to develop muscle strength and endurance.
First of all, learn to sit properly. Keep your shoulders down and wide apart, keep your ankles under your knees, and point your feet and knees forward. The head should be in line with the spine, the neck is not protruding. Relax your chest. Your muscles should hold you in this position. Do not transfer more weight to either the right or left side of the body and do not bend. Get up and move regularly. Go for a drink of water or look out the window to also rest your eyes.
If the doctor or physiotherapist has ruled out a specific cause of back pain, there is no need to be afraid of movement. Physical activity in any manifestation will benefit. The best solution is to take short breaks for simple exercises as often as possible. This should become a habit and form a new healthy posture.
What exercises will help?
Alignment of the head and neck
The exercise is performed sitting down. Keep one hand behind your head, and let the other lie on your chest or under your ribs. This movement ensures that your posture aligns with your hips and encourages you to relax your shoulders and chest, maximizing the balance between your back and the front of your body. Your hands will help you better understand where your body is.
Squats with a chair
We often overexert the muscles of the lower back when we bend and lift the barbell, so squats are a great way to teach the brain to understand that you should bend from the pelvis, not bend your back. Make sure that your ankles are under your knees and that your knees are in line with your toes, lift your toes and rest your heels on the floor. Relax your chest, straighten your arms forward, over the table, and sit on the chair correctly, give the load to the pelvis.
Stretching on a chair
Practice flexion and extension in the back. Find a neutral position, leaning on the sciatic bones, and then lean back a little, using the pelvis and consistently rounding the back, and then inhale by bending, leveling and lifting the collarbones to the ceiling.
Side neck stretches
We often keep our head in a fixed position, so it can be very overstressed. Lateral and regular neck stretches are useful, as well as head turns to the left and right and drawing circles with your head. They can be performed both sitting and standing.
Rotation of the head and neck
This exercise is also performed while sitting. Put your hands on the back of your head. Keep your head in line with your spine. Slowly rotate your head to the left, then to the right and slightly upward. During rotation, keep your hips still and lift your head and neck up and to the side.
Side tilt while sitting
We rarely perform lateral movements in everyday life, and most of us do not use both hands to the same extent, so most often we use one side of the body more than the other. Sit on a chair, stretch your arms up and connect them (or you can do it with one hand) and slowly stretch to the left, then to the right side, stretching both sides of the waist.
Our arms are always bent forward when we sit at the computer. From this, the muscles of the anterior part of the chest may become excessively tense. This exercise will help to correct the effect. While sitting, spread your arms to the sides and lift them up from the elbow, turning your palms forward. Imagine that your elbows are placed very wide and far apart, stretching out in a long line and squeezing your shoulder blades.
The bar at the table
Make a diagonal out of your body, stretching from your heels to the top of your head and leaning your hands on the table. Maintain a neutral position by activating and engaging the front part of the body so that the abdomen remains tense and firm. The standing side bar is another great variation of this exercise.