If you’re like most of the American population, you spend a good amount of time sitting at a desk or in a car, or both. This lifestyle certainly comes with a consequence to your body’s alignment. The good news is we can do targeted stretching and strengthening to mitigate these negative effects as much as possible. You will certainly be more comfortable, doing so!
When we sit, especially with our arms out in front in front of our body, we promote a shortening effect on our chest muscles. This positioning also causes our neck to protrude forward (as pictured) and our upper back to round. I the mid and lower half of the body, sitting causes a shortening effect in our hip flexors, abdominals and hamstrings. This shortening effect happens due to the muscles being in a slightly contracted state, rather than being stretched out and naturally elongated (like when standing).
Targeted strengthening exercises for better posture, focus on the upper back and deep abdominal muscles, to help you naturally hold your shoulders back and down. Targeted stretching exercises focus on lengthening the muscles in the chest, hamstrings, abdominals and hip flexors.
I put together this video on exercises for better posture, with 3 strengthening and 3 stretching exercises you can do in the office or at home.
If you don’t want to get down on the ground at the office, consider holding a plank on a chair, and doing a standing hamstring and chest stretch at the very least. I recommend spending 3-5 mins on these throughout the day, 2-3 times per day. The strengthening exercises should be done at a minimum of 3 times per week (2-3 sets).