Don’t ration your Pilates practice to just on the mat once or twice a week in class. Factor it into your routine and do it when you need it the most. The majority of my clients work mainly at a desk; sitting for prolonged periods staring at a computer 5 days a week. This, as you may have experienced, can store up all sorts of problems – tense tight shoulders, achy painful back, repetitive strain injuries… Don’t suffer with it and take your Pilates principles into the office. Here, I am giving you a few stretches and exercises that can help release stiff muscles and strengthen your upper back.
Sit tall on your chair and have your arms relaxed down by your sides. Shoulder shrugs – Lift you shoulders up to your ears as you inhale and drop your shoulders down as you exhale x 5 Shoulder circles – Circle your shoulders forwards, up, back around and down x 5 and reverse, breathing normally
Elbow circles – Bend your elbows and bring your hands onto your shoulders. Inhale and lift your elbows up to the ceiling and exhale and open them back and down – making as big a circle as you can
Eagle stretch – Bring one elbow on top of the other, wrap your forearms around each other. Pull your shoulders down and at the same time try and raise your forearms upwards. This is a great stretch for the upper traps (the top line of your shoulders)
Neck stretch – Tilt your head so that the right ear goes towards the right shoulder. Continue to let the left shoulder drop down. Place the right hand on your head just above your left ear. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat on the other side
Spine twist – Position your arms straight out in front of you. Bend your left elbow and twist your upper body to bring your elbow back. Perform this movement on three short exhales, pulling your abs in and twisting to look all the way behind you. Inhale as you return your arm back to centre, getting taller. Perform the same movement with your right arm and then alternate between arms
Side stretch - Inhale, and reach your right arm up toward the ceiling. As you exhale, reach your right arm up and over to the left, stretching the right side of your body as you let your head hang down to the left. Inhale as you lift back up. Repeat this movement on the other side and then alternate between both arms.
Glut stretch – Cross your right ankle over your left knee and sit up tall. Pitch the torso forwards to get a deeper stretch but keep your back straight.
And a few standing stretches…
8. Calf stretch - Stand about three feet from a wall and put your right foot behind you ensuring your toes are facing forward. Keep your heel on the ground and lean forward with your right knee straight. Hold for 30 seconds and change sides
9. Quad stretch – Stand by the wall and hold onto the front of your right ankle pulling it towards your bottom. Tilt your pelvis to increase the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds and change sides.
10) Roll down – Nod the head and round your spine down ‘vertebra by vertebra’, bending your knees as you roll forwards and hang the body over the legs. Roll back up in reverse. Great to decompress the spine after lots of sitting!
See if you can encourage any colleagues to join in..?!
A few extra tips...
-Set an alarm on your phone so that it reminds you to get up at least every hour and have a walk around, stretch, move..!
-Be more aware of how you sit. Are you slouching? Are you crossing your legs? Is your head pocking forward to the screen? Little check-ins whenever you remember will help to get you out of these bad patterns.
The aim... to be mobile, strong and pain free all day.