By Troy Moore
Although some of us spend our days within the office, while others spend them in the classroom, sitting for prolonged periods is a common element that comprises most of our days.
Unfortunately, staying seated for extended periods of time can cause postural changes, chronic pain and other bodily complications. Thus, staying active throughout the week is always positive and optimal for long-term health.
In my experience as a personal trainer, I work with many clients experiencing the detrimental effects of a sedentary lifestyle. One of the most common issues I work with clients to reverse is a forward shift/ rounding of the shoulders and tightening of the hip flexors.
One simple method that I use to help clients start reversing forward shoulders is to imagine trying to hold a pen in place between their shoulder blades by squeezing the muscles in the upper back together.
Doing this simple exercise a few times throughout the day also increases strength in the postural muscles that support the spine, which helps to give the shoulders much-needed rest.
I recommend completing three rounds of squeezing your shoulder blades together in this position, while holding for as long as possible.
The overtightened hips, however, can be a little more difficult for a client to notice.
Anytime we bend over at the waist, have a seat or even take a step forward, the hip flexor muscles are placed under a lot of stress. This stress is exacerbated even further during a 3-hour class or full workday.
A quick-fix option for these muscles that I recommend to my clients includes taking hourly standing breaks at work or investing in a standing desk.
If these standing breaks are not feasible during your day, I recommend focusing on improving your seated posture.
Specifically, adjust your seat height to make sure the knees are closer to the ground than your hips and avoid positions where your feet hang freely in the air without support.
Investing in a small pillow or pad to sit on is also a great way to keep the hips well above the knees and is much more cost-effective than a new desk or ergonomic office chair.
If you are feeling the effects of a sedentary lifestyle and seeking ways to improve your fitness level and become more active, the FIU Wellness and Recreation Center fitness team is more than able to assist.
Visit the WRC website for more information on our group fitness classes and personal training services.
Troy Moore is a certified exercise physiologist and a student in the kinesiology and exercise science program at FIU. He currently works as the graduate assistant of fitness at the Wellness and Recreation Center.