So, you sit at a desk all day long, am I right? You probably go for a walk long enough to warrant a 20-minute phone call with your mum, once, and other than that it’s just a quick brisk stroll to the coffee machine to stretch your legs two or three times. Guilty? We all are. Sitting down all day long is something most of us do, our jobs warrant it and our backs hate us for it. But what are we supposed to do? Purchasing standing desks isn’t always an option, so we asked the creator of The Vertue Method, Shona Vertue, to help us out with the best exercises to combat sitting down all-day-long.
Hey Shona, so let’s get the bad stuff out of the way – just HOW bad is sitting down all day?
‘Well, how do you feel when you sit down all day? A bit sluggish and a bit shit? It doesn’t take an expert to tell you it’s not ideal for the human body to sit in a chair day in, day out. A few things that can occur include the atrophy of our glutes – so basically your butt can disspear into nothing, and not in a good way, weak glutes can also lead to potential back and knee issues further down the line. Your chair can cause you to tighten up in the hips, particularly hip flexors, some of which are attached to the spine which can potentially lead to lower back problems. So basically, it’s bad.’ GREAT.
I can’t really do my job on the move, so what can I do to even slightly combat the damage?
‘I always suggest getting up every 45-minutes to stretch and move around, this also helps with brain function. So even if you’re on a roll with emails, it’s important to maintain the blood circulation to the brain, which is improved with movement. If you’re lucky enough to be able to sneak away for 10 minutes, find a free meeting room and do a few exercises to stretch out and activate your gluteals (your butt muscles).
So, let’s talk exercises – what on earth should I be doing to combat all this desk damage?
1)The Hip Thrust. This will wake up your gluteals and prevent them from atrophying – basically, withering away.
2) The Squat. The squat is such an important human movement that also helps to massage our ascending and descending colons, which in turn supports better digestion.
3) The Bird-Dog. This exercise, included in the Vertue Method warm up, activates the glutes, stabilises the core and trains better body awareness.
4) Lunges. Lunging strengthens the lower body while also stretching it, particularly your hip flexors.
5) Side Lying Hip Raises. This requires no equipment and it really, really, really works the top of the butt (the Glute Medius) – it’s also really important for hip stability.
6) Single Leg Glute Bridge. Again, this requires no equipment and works your hamstrings and glutes. It can help to balance out any discrepancies that you might have between your left and right side.
7) The Pigeon. This is a yoga posture that helps to open and stretch out the hip muscles. I recommend people do this before bed, or while watching Netflix.
8) Meditation. There is not one person that wouldn’t benefit from a consistent meditation practice and there is lots of scientific evidence to support its efficacy.
Should I incorporate the above with any other type of exercises?
Absolutely! The above is designed to complement every activity – you can read more about this in my book, the Vertue Method.
How can I incorporate yoga into my training to ensure I’m fully stretched after a long day sitting down?
Try to do 10-minutes before bed, even if you’re watching Netflix while you do it, that’s fine. When it comes to yoga, consistency is much more important than just doing one 90 minute yoga class every once in a blue moon.
And finally, how can we incorporate more walking into our days, without being fired for never being at our desks, of course.
Try and introduce the idea of walking meetings to your boss – I’m sure they do it at Google. And always carry comfy shoes in your bag so you can get off the bus or tube to walk for a few stops to work, or home.
Shona’s book, The Vertue Method, is available on Amazon now.
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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.