Exercise Benefits, Lower Back Pain, Posture, Prehab

Desk-ercise

Lower back pain is one of the most prominent conditions affecting prolonged sitters. As I’ve discussed before (here) lower back pain often results due to poor muscular endurance in the core and hips. One treatment option is to improve the muscle’s capacity during your regular exercises. Another successful treatment approach is to regularly engage key muscles during periods of prolonged sitting effectively “waking them up.” With increasing work stress and reliance on computer technology, we’re spending more and more hours glued to our seats being “productive.” Given no alternative options, we highlight a few key exercises that can help protect your back while at your desk.

Seated Abdominal Contraction

  1. Sitting with good posture – chest out, as tall as you can be
  2. Pull your belly button in towards your spine.
  3. Maintain the contraction while trying to breathe fluidly for 15 seconds (longer if able to)
  4. Release your belly button, rest briefly and repeat 3 times.

Seated Scapula Retraction

  1. Sitting with good posture – chest out, as tall as you can be
  2. Pull and squeeze your shoulder blades together (as if trying to pinch a pencil in the middle of your back)
  3. Hold for 15 seconds (longer if able to) while breathing normally.
  4. Rest briefly and repeat 3 times.

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Isometric Gluteal Contraction

  1. Sitting with good posture – chest out, as tall as you can be
  2. Squeeze your gluteals together (squeeze your bottom) as if someone was about to kick you from behind
  3. Hold for 15 seconds (longer if able to) while maintaining normal breathing.
  4. Rest briefly and repeat 3 times.

Isometric Squat

  1. Sitting with good posture – chest out, as tall as you can be (there’s a trend with this first step)
  2. Place your feet hip width flat on the floor with your hips and knees bent to 90o
  3. Push down on the floor as hard as you can – focus on pushing through the heels.
  4. You should feel your leg muscles co-contract (all contract together)
  5. Hold for 5-10 seconds (longer if able to).
  6. Rest briefly and repeat 5 times

Band Hip Abduction

  1. Sitting with good posture – chest out, as tall as you can be
  2. Loop a short resistance band just above the knees
  3. Place feet just slightly apart on the floor
  4. Spread your knees apart as wide as you can and slowly return to the start position.
  5. Complete 10 slow and smooth repetitions.
  6. Rest briefly and repeat 3 times.

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Isometric Hip Adduction

  1. Sitting with good posture – chest out, as tall as you can be
  2. Place a soft ball/pillow/cushion between your knees
  3. Push your knees towards each other
  4. Hold for 20 seconds (longer if able to) while maintaining normal breathing
  5. Rest briefly and repeat 3 times.

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Seated Hamstring Stretch

  1. Sitting with good posture – chest out, as tall as you can be
  2. Straighten one leg out in front of you ensuring toe is pointed away from your body
  3. Lean forward slightly (sticking your chest out) until you feel a stretch in the back of the outstretched leg
  4. Hold for 30 seconds on each side.

Postural Reset

  1. Stand up regularly and push your hips forward 3 times

Don’t sit for too long

Stand up and walk around regularly. Ensure you maintain normal breathing and carry a smile. Repeat 1000 times.

 Download Exercise Sheet PDF


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