One of the most common questions I get asked these days is how to relieve upper back tension. I have a desk job and would like to know what I can do keep from my back from feeling sore.
Sitting at our desks can take up most of the working day for a lot of people. Additioally if we aren’t sitting at our desks we are likely driving in the car or sitting on the couch. Needless to say, we tend to do more sitting than moving these days. It makes sense that good posture while sitting is important so we don’t get back pain.
In a perfect world, we would only sit for an hour at a time before we get up and move around. This may have been the case five years ago. These days with everything being connected by some form of wireless device, you don’t need to get up for much at all. There is however a few things we can do each day at work and in our workouts at the gym that can help relieve back pain and help keep your posture correct.
Relieve upper back tension by making a point of getting up out of your seat to take a walk for just 2 minutes every hour. Do a lap of the corridor or take a walk up the stairs to the next floor and back again. Standing up and moving will not only be good for your fitness level, it will also release and pressure on the lower back and get the blood circulating through your body again. Stretching your chest will help to relieve some tension from the upper back too.
Next time you are training your back at the gym, add a three second pause to your seated row. Adding the pause will break the momentum of the movement and help to switch on more muscle fibers and stabilizers. Try the rhythm 1/3/1/0 and emphasize squeezing the shoulder blades together and lifting your sternum up on the seated row. It should feel like an exaggerated upright posture.
We were always taught in school to sit up straight with our feet out in front of us and our knees at a 90° angle, however, this position can actually encourage our upper body to lean forward. This can cause our upper back and shoulders to round forward. Try sitting in a slight straddle position with your knees to the side of the chair and your feet resting behind you rather than out in front. This will encourage your pelvis to stay in the correct position with a neutral spine. The use of a saddle chair can really help if you have a lot of lower back issues, as it will keep your pelvis and lumbar spine in the correct position. The other advantage is it will also encourage your adductors (the muscles on the inside of your legs) to activate and stabilize.
The best advice is to move as much as possible, the way mother nature intended. Keeping these tips in mind will make a big difference. Incorporate them into your day and notice the difference to the tension you hold in your upper back and shoulders while sitting at your desk.
Mark Moon is a holistic fitness and wellbeing coach with over 20 years experience educating people on the importance of a balanced and sustainable approach to their health and lifestyle. His philosophy is to teach people to think long term and big picture about how they want their life to look, and uses modalities such as strength training, yoga and life coaching to help them create it.
As a dynamic and down-to-earth trainer, Mark believes there are three key areas to sustainable fitness: MINDSET – NUTRITION – MOVEMENT – and when optimized, there’s no limit to the personal, professional and wider life goals you can achieve.
You can join Mark’s online fitness and yoga classes, or find him teaching in numerous Sydney-based health clubs including Body Mind Life, The Space Yoga Studio, Flow Athletic, Crunch Fitness and Fitness First.
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