If you sit at a desk all day, your posture could probably use a boost. Most people with desk jobs tend to complain about upper back, neck, or lower back pain because of the sedentary position. Sitting creates tension in areas, which don’t get stretched during or at the end of a workday. Fortunately, the moves in this article aim to improve posture, range of motion, core strength, and flexibility.
Your posture and core strength will not magically get better out of the blue. You need to work to improve both of these things, which can help you live a more mobile, pain-free life. For the following moves, do them back-to-back. You’ll notice that each exercise has a complementary stretch, so engage in the stretch directly after the exercise. If you do this routine five days a week, you’ll experience a more flexible body and stronger core.
Targeting your back, shoulders, and glutes, this exercise aims to improve range of motion and posture. To begin, lie face down with your arms and legs opened into an “X” shape on the ground. Engage your core to lift your chest, thighs, and arms off the ground. Direct your gaze in front of you and lift your left arm and right leg slightly higher. Quickly switch sides to complete one rep, and then continue alternating until you complete 20 reps. Keep it controlled, but aim to flutter your arms and legs quickly as you complete your reps.
Open up the entire front of your body and the muscles that easily tighten at your desk all day. Lie facedown on your mat with your arms by your sides. Lift your arms and legs off the ground by engaging your glutes and lower back muscles. Bend your right leg toward your right hand and grab the outside of your shin. Do the same with your left hand and leg. Lift your chest and arch up like a bow. Try to remain in this position for 20-30 seconds, breathing deeply throughout.
Requiring a bit more strength, seated hover is definitely a challenge for your core muscles. Sit down in a cross-legged position with your hands on the ground just outside your hips. Press your palms into the floor, tilt your pelvis up, engage your abdomen and chest muscles, and lift your butt and legs off the flower. Hover above the floor for 30 seconds and then sit back down. Repeat one more time, but cross the opposite leg in front.
This stretch aims to relax your lower back and open up your hips, as the name suggests. Remain in the same cross-legged position as the previous seated hover exercise. Keep your back straight as you hinge at the hips, leaning your torso over your legs. Reach your arms in front of you until you feel a stretch in your glutes and hips. Make sure that you don’t round your back, and hold the stretch for up to 30 seconds.
Think of the Matrix when you do this pose because you have to engage your thighs and abs to lean back. Begin in a kneeling position with the tops of your feet flat on your mat and legs hip-distance apart. Do not sit back onto your heels; rather, kneel so that your body is straight and only your feet, shins, and knees remain on the ground. Engage your lower abdomen and start to hinge as far back as you can without straining the body. Return to the starting position and that is one rep. Complete a total of 10 reps, placing a towel or mat under your knees for extra support.
This is potentially one of the greatest yoga poses for sore neck and upper back. From the starting position of the kneeling hinge, engage your glutes to press your hips forward. Arch your back and reach your hands down and back toward your heels. You can make the move a little easier by tucking your toes under to bring your heels closer to your hands. Hold for 30 seconds, breathing deeply throughout.
This is a move that is more challenging than it appears, so do not approach it lightly. Begin in a tabletop position with your hands on the ground beneath your shoulders and knees directly beneath your hips. Extend your right arm out in front of you while extending and lifting the left leg backwards. Engage your core to maintain your center of balance. Repeat on the other side and complete 20 alternating reps.
Balancing Quad Stretch
This is the final pose of the sequence that works your core muscles, all the while stretching your quads and hip flexors. From the same tabletop position as bird dog, extend your right leg back and left arm in front. Bend your right knee and reach back with your left hand to grab hold of your foot. Pull your foot toward your body and lift your leg as high as you can. You should feel as stretch along the front of your hip. Hold for 30 seconds, return to the starting position, and then complete on the other side.