Are You A Flexaholic?
From the desk of Kristen Lutz, LCMT, MS...
Do you sit most of the day? Are your shoulders rounded forward? Does your head extend forward as you stare at a computer screen? If you answered ‘YES’ to any of these questions, then you may be a Flexaholic.
For those who work at a computer all day, the pattern is as follows:
1. Your head slowly creeps closer and closer to the computer screen or whatever it is you are reading (maybe it’s time for some new glasses?)
2. Your shoulders round forward as you lean closer.
3. Your arms are turned downward (pronated) so you can use your keyboard and mouse.
4. You’re sitting this whole time and the more forward you are, the shorter your trunk and hip flexors get, thereby forcing your pelvis into flexion and overstretching your glutes and hamstrings.
End Result: low back pain, pain between the shoulder blades and a really sore neck.
For those who work on their feet all day, the pattern is as follows:
1. You use poor lifting techniques and lean over things. This forces your pelvis into flexion, your trunk and hip flexors get shortened and your glutes and hamstrings are overstretched (is this sounding familiar?).
2. You lift, hold and carry various items, shortening your chest and arm muscles.
3. Maybe you stop to lean over and use a computer, causing forward bending, rounded shoulders and arms turned downward (pronated) to use the keyboard and mouse.
3. As a result of leaning over and having rounded shoulders, your head slowly creeps closer and closer to whatever it is you are doing.
End Result: Not to bore you with redundancy here but...low back pain, pain between the shoulder blades and a really sore neck.
Reverse the above movement patterns with these simple exercises and you can become a reformed Flexaholic:
1. Full Body Extension. Sit on an exercise ball and slowly walk your legs so the ball slides up to support your back. Continue to lean back so that your back and neck are supported on the ball. Keep your legs extended straight and lower arms out (palms-up) to make a T-shape. Continue to breathe! Hold this position for 30-60 seconds. Raise your arms up over your head (palms-up) to make an I-shape. Continue to breathe throughout the movement. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds.
*Please do not do this exercise if you have serious balance/vertigo issues or condition where inversion is contraindicated. When in doubt, ask your doctor.
2. Get your Head in the Game. Let’s get your head back where it belongs. Sit up straight and slide your head back in a way that will bring your chin closer to your spine. Don’t drop your chin down towards your chest or bend your head back in any way. Think “Walk Like and Egyptian”. Slide your head slightly forward and draw your head back again slowly and as far back as you can comfortably go until you feel a stretch. Your chin should be making a parallel line with the floor throughout this exercise.
3. Shoulders Back. Stand up and hold your arms straight out in front of you with your palms together. Slowly extend your arms and shoulders back as they move parallel to the floor. As you move your arms back, turn your thumbs out so they are pointing behind you at the end of the move. Exhale as you do this. Inhale as you bring your arms back to the starting position. Repeat 10-15 times.
Do these exercises EVERY DAY. Make them a part of your morning, lunch or evening routine.