Raise your hand if you spend a lot of your day sitting in front of a computer.
I don’t think I have to tell you sitting in front of a computer all day sucks for your posture. I don’t think I have to tell you it can make your body feel tight and uncomfortable. And I don’t even think I have to tell you it can lead to some really unfortunate muscular imbalances that can cause injury.
When I’m working with my clients in the gym, a lot of our warm-up time is spent on corrective and activation exercises that help negate the impact of sitting all day. Sleepy glutes, a tight chest and hips, and a back that doesn’t fire properly are some of the most common ailments I encounter.
Fortunately, with a little patience and consistency, these grievances can be countered pretty quickly as long as we get on top of them before they become too severe.
Why should you do activation work?
A lot of people poo-poo activation and corrective work because it seems “boring”. It’s not like those crazy high-intensity workouts you see that make you sweat and give you abs in an hour (k maybe I’m exaggerating). We’ve come to associate workout out with being hard, and at first glance these movements can look pretty simple.
But when done properly, not only do they induce the burn, but they’re also incredibly effective.
Learning how to properly activate the muscles you’re working comes with huge benefits. For one, you’ll actually train the proper muscle groups! It’s super common to see people doing a movement with proper form but not working the correct muscles.
An example of this would be rows. When I’m working with a new client, oftentimes they’ll feel rows in their triceps when really we’re looking to target the muscles of the mid-back. Regardless of how hard they try to feel it there…nadda.
But with some activation work, some corrective exercises, and some stretching and myofascial release, suddenly those elusive back muscles are firing properly! Cha-ching!
Basically, what this translates to is getting more bang for your buck. Not wasting an ounce of your effort in the gym. Becoming stronger and bulletproofing your body.
Sounds pretty good, right?
Can you improve your posture with exercise?
Yes, yes, and yes! While being mindful of your posture throughout the day is an incredibly important component of keeping your body in proper alignment, activation work, corrective exercises, and core strength can all help you reduce the negative effects of desk posture.
That being said, exercise can also harm your posture. Failing to address these issues or always training the same muscle groups (ie. always working the front of the body and neglecting the back) can make your posture even worse.
So while I can’t give you a completely customized posture-improvement plan since I have no idea what your posture looks like, what I CAN do is give you a couple of exercises that will get your back and glutes firing properly. With these movements you’ll strengthen your core and upper body, lift your booty, and get your body in proper working order. Your body will also feel nice and open after a day of sitting.
Oh, and did I mention you can do this in around 10 minutes?
Bang out four sets of each movement and follow the reps prescribed on the video. Movements that are unilateral (working one side at a time) will require the prescribed number of reps on each side.
And please remember that while I’m a personal trainer, I don’t know you and your fabulously unique body! Always be mindful of which movements work for you and which don’t. If you have special concerns or considerations, feel free to book a complimentary call with me to see what would work best for your individual body.
Watch the Lengthen and Strengthen movements right here:
Lazy Downward Dogs: When pressing back into downward dog, really focus on pressing your chest towards the ground and your bum towards the sky. Think about making your spine as long as you possibly can and opening up your chest as much as possible. The closer your heels are to the ground, the deeper the hamstring stretch you’ll get. When you come to your “lazy” position, keep your core engaged as you hover your knees above the ground.
4-Way Plank Lifts: Keep your hips in line with your body and your bellybutton pulled all the way back to your spine. Try to keep your hips as stable as possible as you lift one limb at a time. *You may do this on your forearms if it’s uncomfortable on your wrists.
Y Reaches: Stand tall and bring your shoulders up and back then set them down. Engage your core as you hinge at the hips. Keeping your shoulder blades slid down your back, raise your arms up overhead with palms facing one another into a Y position. Try not to let your shoulders creep up towards your ears! As you pull the elbows down, think about sliding those shoulder blades down even more. This should be felt in the middle of your back between your shoulder blades.
Ballet Kicks: Stand tall with your chest proud and shoulders drawn back. Engage your core and take a slight hinge at the hips. Raise one leg back behind you and, while keeping the toe pointed, raise and lower your leg. Focus on using your glute to lift the leg and not the hamstring.
Finish with 5-10 minutes of stretching, focusing on the chest and hips, and you’ll be good to go!
What are some of your favourite ways to lengthen and strengthen your body after a day of sitting?