Chairs are the enemy! And yet many of us spend most of our waking days in them. So it’s no surprise people often tell me “my upper back aches when I’m sitting” or they get a “pain between my shoulder blades when I’m sitting at my desk”.
Normally this is just a muscular ache (although sometimes there might be pain coming from the joints of the spine and ribs as well). The human body is not designed to sit still for long periods. So no matter how good your chair and desk set-up, at some point your muscles will begin to fatigue and lengthen until you slump down and start to rely on your ligaments and joints for support.
Working at your desk, as you begin to slump the area between your shoulder blades comes under strain for several reasons:
- The way the spine is formed means that it naturally starts to buckle around T7, which is at the level of the lower tip of your shoulder blades.
- The weight of the arms is supported at the back by muscles attaching your shoulder blades onto your spine and ribs.
- The head starts to drift forward and this places more strain on muscles coming down the neck and into the upper back. They help support the head and neck like the rigging on a galleon supports the masts.
What’s the best posture for sitting?
Well, the body loves movement and variety so it’s best to keep changing your position. Fidget. The best posture is the next posture! In an ideal world you would be able to get up and spend 20 minutes exercising, but this doesn’t go down well with most line managers. So here are a few exercises you can do while still sitting:
1. Sit up straight and place your hands behind your neck. Slowly twist to the left until the muscles in your rib cage reach their limit. Unwind and repeat to the right. It’s a bit like wringing a dishcloth, only less messy.
2. Keep your hands behind your neck and this time bend side to side. Try stretching your upper elbow up towards the ceiling and feel your ribs opening out like a concertina.
3. Lean forwards and backwards. As you lean backwards, slump even more: curl into a ball to stretch the back muscles. As you lean forwards look straight ahead and stick your chest out, this gives those muscles a chance to squeeze and contract and makes a delicious change from the job of keeping you upright at your desk.
Does this make sense? Have a look at the video below to see what it looks like.
How many times should you repeat each of these exercises? Ten is a nice round number but actually you should just do as many as you like, keep going until you feel looser. It’s better to listen to your body than slavishly follow a set number of exercises.
If you have any questions please get in touch, or call to make an appointment on 520714.