Stiff neck and achy back? You're not alone — sitting all day can wreak havoc on your body. Luckily, Karena Wu, board-certified clinical specialist in orthopedic physical therapy, joined TODAY to share seven simple chair exercises that help correct your posture. “Anyone can do this,” Wu explained.
Posture is all about how you hold your body in space. “When we have a good upright posture, we are using our muscles well and holding our bodies up biomechanically in an optimal way so that all of our associated systems can work well together,” Wu previously told TODAY.
The best part of these pain-reducing moves? They're easy — and you can do them right in your desk chair.
1. Phone Placement
Want to avoid the dreaded "text neck?" Don't look down — it's not good for your neck and will cause you pain. Once you bring your gaze to the horizon level, this also corrects your posture in space without isolated activation of any of the specific postural musculature.
How to do it: Holding the phone towards eye level, elbows in at your side (not far out in front). People do not actually know how to do this without being told how to ‘rest’ their arms at their side comfortably.
2. Pigeon Neck
Are you standing or sitting up straight with your neck in proper alignment? This simple shift corrects your posture in space.
How to do it: Pull the head backward in space so that the head is centered over the torso.
3. Shoulder Rolls
Shoulder rolls help get some mobility into the shoulder blades before activating the shoulder blade muscles to stay back and behind, as in exercise No. 4.
How to do it: Sit with your arms resting comfortably at your side or resting with hands in your lap. Rolls the shoulders forwards, up, back and down to loosen up the neck and upper middle back musculature.
4. Shoulder Blade Activation
Along with the shoulders, this move also a strengthening exercise for the muscles in between the shoulder blades, the rhomboids.
How to do it: Sitting with arms up in a 90/90 (hands up) position. Squeeze the shoulder blades back to pull the shoulder blades back onto the rib cage towards the spine.
5. Middle Back Extension/Backward Bending
This is a great corrective move to mobilize the spine into extension or backward bending.
How to do it: Start with hands clasped behind your head, elbows bent and forward. Bend the spine backwards to reverse the forward curve of the middle back.
6. Chest Stretch/Nerve Glide
This is a huge muscle and nerve stretch from the torso out to the fingertips.
How to do it: Sitting with hands straight out in front, palms touching. Bend the hands backward and then pull the arms backward in space behind the torso to stretch the chest, arms and the nerves that pass through the arms. To return, bend the hands forward and bring the arms forward to return to the starting position.
7. Seat Cat/Cow (Slouch Overcorrect)
This is a spinal mobility exercise that gets the joints and soft tissues moving if you have been sitting for too long in a sedentary position.
How to do it: Sit with feet shoulder width apart, hands resting on your knees. Allow yourself to slouch from the low back (like how we sit with poor posture!) by tucking the tailbone under. Then, stick out your tailbone to arch your spine and expand your chest and head back.