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Sporty Office, Part 2

We’re all aware that sitting in front of your computer day in, day out is definitely not the best thing you can do for your back, yet many of us have no choice.

With this article, I will provide some tips for setting up your desk in a way that is less strenuous for your back and share some easy, but very helpful exercises to prevent or overcome tension.

First of all, you should always remember that good posture starts in your feet and moves all the way up to your head.

So when sitting at your desk, make sure you always keep both your feet parallel to one another flat on the floor, your pelvis in an upright position, your core activated and strong, your spine aligned, and your neck and shoulders relaxed. Sometimes it helps to take a deep breath in and on the exhale, you may notice your shoulders automatically sinking.

I know that it might be quite challenging to maintain this position throughout your daily routine. But the more frequently you correct your posture and align your spine throughout the day, the more you train your muscles and bring your awareness to striving for a perfect sitting posture. Let this become your mantra and whenever you’re focusing on your posture try to return to this perfect sitting position.

Follow these points to achieve the most comfortable, relaxed and healthy position for your back, arms and shoulders:

  • Sit up high enough to keep your knees bent at a 90° angle

  • Keep your feet flat on the floor

  • The top of your screen should be at eye level

  • Make sure your shoulders are relaxed and not tense or raised

  • Your forearms should be parallel to the floor, and your elbows a 90° angle

  • Use a wobble cushion to prevent a unilateral strain to your spine and to slightly train the muscles of your back

Some of you might need to work with two computer screens. If they are not set up properly, it can easily lead to painful tensions in your neck from permanently twisting your head to one side. So if possible, place the two screens behind one another, just at different levels; the big screen behind the laptop on your desk, right in front of you at eye level.

When you’re working both with the computer and with documents try to not have them between you and the keyboard. Similar to the big screen you should have them in front of you behind your laptop on a book stand at eye level.

Exercise 1: When you feel some tension in your neck/shoulder area

Sit up straight, align your spine, relax your shoulders and slowly lower the right ear towards your right shoulder. To increase the stretch in your neck place your right hand on your head and just gently support the stretch with your hand. (Please make sure you DON’T PULL YOUR HEAD!). Hold for about 20 seconds then release the stretch and do the same on the other side. Repeat this 3 times.

This offers a deep stretch in the sides of your neck and can be done very quietly without distracting your colleagues or even getting up from your chair.

I recommend closing your eyes while doing this little exercise to concentrate on your breathing, give your mind a rest and relax your eyes.

Exercise 2: To strengthen your stomach muscles and support your entire spine

Sit up tall in your chair. Straighten your spine and place your feet flat on the floor. Draw your belly button in toward your spine, engaging your core muscles. Do not hold your breath; instead breathe deeply and evenly.

Engage your core muscles by drawing your belly button in toward your spine. Lift one foot about 15-20 centimeters off the floor, draw that knee toward your chest, place your opposite hand on the thigh and gently press down with your hand to increase the tension.

Hold for 30 seconds, keep on breathing deeply and focus on your core. Relax, and then change to the other side. Repeat this exercise 3 times.

Exercise 3: This standing quadriceps stretch loosens the front of your thighs and your lower back

Place one hand on a wall for balance. Take hold of your right ankle with your right hand. Keep your right thigh straight and both knees close together. Gently pull the ankle toward your bottom, until you feel a stretch in your quadriceps. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. Repeat this exercise 3 times if it feels good

These exercises are a great opportunity to relax your mind and eyes, breath deeply and focus on yourself instead of your work for some minutes. You should try to give yourself this little break every day to decrease your stress level and to recharge your energy.

For a wider variety of exercises you should check out my first article on how to stay fit in the office, here at heads up! .

Have fun and stay healthy!

About Gianna Thiess:

Gianna grew up in the Black Forest surrounded by nature. She is passionate about her work as a Sports Therapist, Personal Trainer and Chef in Berlin with the focus on a healthy lifestyle.

She sees the body in a holistic way. Gianna’s personal training and classes are an alternative approach, focusing on body and mind where individual concepts are developed for and with each client. These concepts involve meditation, exercises (indoors or outdoors) and a healthy diet to achieve balance and wellbeing.

Follow eat&treat on Facebook to find out about her regular Pilates "Body and Mind Flow" classes in Berlin:

www.facebook.com/eatandtreat.berlin

text: Gianna Thiess

images: Marcus Nyberg

dress: Corvera Vargas

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