Many people have sedentary desk jobs that can lead to pain in the lower back, neck and shoulders, as well as tight hips and eye strain. When sitting for long periods of time, we tend to hunch over. This can lead to stress on the body and musculoskeletal issues. The good news is that you can undo the damage by incorporating key bodyweight moves into your workout routine along with stretching.
Please keep in mind that whenever you start a new workout program, ease into it slowly. Then gradually build up the intensity, duration and frequency.
Below are four essential bodyweight moves to help improve strength, energy and posture. Always start with a warm-up and end with a cool-down which should last around 5-10 minutes each.
Clamshell: This move helps ease lower back pain by strengthening the core and lower back muscles. Runners can also benefit from this exercise because it strengthens weak hips which correlates to foot, ankle and knee pain.
Lie on your right side with knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Raise your left leg but keep your left foot touching your right foot. Return your left leg to the starting position and repeat. Complete 15-20 repetitions on each side.
Bird Dog: This move strengthens the core and hip muscles, reduces lower back pain and improves flexibility. When your core is strong, walking, running and other daily movements are easier to complete and less likely to cause injury.
Start on all fours, with your hands under your shoulders and knees hip-width apart. Extend your left leg behind you and flex your foot. Extend your right arm in front of you with your thumb facing the ceiling. Stabilize your left shoulder so the shoulder blade doesn't collapse into the pose. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds and repeat on the opposite side for a total of 10 repetitions.
Hip Bridge: This exercise is my all-time favorite because it strengthens the muscles of the back, core and lower body. It can reduce knee and back pain, improve your posture and sculpt your body so your clothes fit better.
Lie on your back, bend your knees and position your feet about shoulder-width apart. Raise your hips as high as possible off the floor while keeping your knees over your toes. Repeat 15-20 times.
Modified Side Plank: The exercise increases core and shoulder strength, improves balance and coordination for older adults, and helps stabilize the spine.
Lie on the right side of your body. Prop yourself up on your elbow and bend your knees at 90 degrees. Lift your hips off the ground and keep your right shoulder away from the ears. Lift your left arm overhead. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
Along with the above exercises, stretching can also serve as an important component to increase overall flexibility and mobility, which can lessen overtime due to prolonged sitting.
Throughout your work day, try to break up long periods of sitting as often as possible with short walking or standing breaks. Exercise offers unbelievable benefits that can improve nearly every aspect of your overall health from the inside out. Not only can it help you live longer but it also can help with injury prevention.