Following on from last month’s article, this piece will explore some techniques designed to support your body in maintaining a healthy posture, reducing repetitive strain at work, and helping you to continue your computer work with less tension, strain, and discomfort.
A large majority of the population spends a large percentage of their time at a desk, on a computer, on a phone, or commuting to and from the workplace. The result of this large amount of time spent seated and focused on a monitor, tablet screen or on the road is that the body begins to change its shape relative to the posture that you constantly repeat. The body is highly plastic, and if a movement is repeated or sustained frequently enough, the body responds by adjusting itself around the shape you most commonly take. This posture adaptation begins in the soft tissue of the body that is most malleable, but over time begins to settle into your connective tissue and skeleton, forming you around your task. If not addressed, you will become that posture that you take every day in front of your computer; round-shouldered, chin poking out, upper back slumping, and this will become your new shape. Last month we looked at a simple exercise that helps to strengthen the muscles that lift your upper back, lengthen your neck, and strengthen your rotator cuff. This month I’ll share with you some simple movements to keep your spine supple, lubricated, nourished, and aligned. Imagine your spine being the central pillar and central command centre of the body – when it is aligned and healthy, the foundation of the body is at ease. When the spine is misaligned, the foundation of the body is in dis-ease, and the central command cannot communicate as well with the organs, tissues and joints – so a healthy spine really is a healthy life.
The Six Movements of the Spine
Your spine has 6 essential movements; bending forward, bending back, bending to the right side, bending to the left side, rotating to the right, and rotating to the left. When we utilize these six movements of the spine with breath and awareness, we can lubricate the spine, encourage good posture, free up tensions, improve digestion, and encourage the nourishment of the spine and all the tissues of the body. Simple movements, try them at your desk with me now if you like:
Exercise #1 – Round and Release
Practice standing or seated, let your body flow with each inhale and exhale.
To Start: Seated in a chair, or standing with knees bent, hands on thighs.
Exhale: Round your back, as though you are making a “C” shape, tucking your head and tailbone under. Keep your neck and shoulders soft. Explore each section of your spine with a deep breath, letting the breath massage into your lower back, mid back, upper back and neck.
Inhale: On your next inhale, lift your gaze and tilt your tailbone back, float your chest open, and softly arch your back. Explore this shape with your breath, feeling the opening in the lower back, mid back, and upper back. To reduce tension in your neck you might feel more comfortable keeping your chin tucked in slightly.
Repeat:  Flow through from rounding to releasing a few times with the breath. Encourage the whole spine to contribute, and beware of moving too deeply into any one area of the spine. Softly, softly is the instruction here.
Exercise #2 – Crescent Bends
Practice with an awareness on keeping the lower body grounded and stable while the spine bends and stretches.
To Start: standing with hands pressed to outer thighs, or seated with hands on side of chair.
Exhale: slide your right hand down your thigh or towards the ground, keeping feet and/or sit bones evenly grounded.
Inhale: back to the top and then exhale and slide the left hand down. Feel as though you are making a “C” curve in the waist.
Repeat: Flow from one side to the other a few times, making a point to pause at the centre each time.
Exercise #3 – Spinal Rotations
Practice with ease and let the breath guide you in and out of each twist.
To Start: Standing or seated interlace your fingers behind your head. Feel the back of the neck lengthening and shoulders softening.
Exhale: Beginning at the belly-button, slowly twist to the right without turning your hips. Imagine you are a corkscrew, getting taller as you twist.
Inhale: Pause and inhale into both sides of the waist. Then exhale and twist easily to the other side. Repeat a few times.
These three techniques can help to rebalance the spine before, during and after computer use, and may help to improve posture, reduce headaches and tension, enhance creativity and productivity, and remind you that you have a body – you don’t live in a computer! Enjoy…
Note: If you experience any pain or discomfort, see your doctor or health care provider. Not every exercise is for everyone. Practice caution and awareness any time you attempt a new exercise.

 

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