As a physiotherapist, Pilates instructor and founder of online Pilates studio Go Chlo Pilates, Chloe de Winter has heard first-hand how working from home can affect your posture. But she’s offered up some moves to get you feeling flexible again.
Working from home (WFH) is the new normal for many of us and don’t we all love working in our pajama pants and ugg boots? But as we work from the kitchen table, (usually on a dusted off old desk chair) it seems that our posture has been the one thing to struggle.
Do any of these sound like you?
“My back is so tight and I don’t know why”
“My posture has gone to s***!”
“My shoulders are rounded forward – how do I fix it!?”
“My hips get tighter and tighter!”
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The key to improving your WFH posture is movement. Taking walking breaks throughout the day or using your kitchen bench as a standing desk are a great place to start. But to really create a change, devote 10 minutes to practicing these Pilates exercises each day to specifically target your posture.
It’s a two-part process: stretching and strengthening. Postural stretching helps release areas of stiffness and tightness in areas like your hips, chest, neck and shoulders, that build up after long hours of sitting.
This ultimately makes you feel more open and lengthened. The strength component helps you target the specific muscles that improve your posture like your shoulder blade, upper back and neck muscles. It’s committing to practicing these exercises that creates lasting change in your posture.
Great for stretching the spine and reducing stiffness in the upper back and shoulders.
1. Lay on your side, knees bent toward the chest and hands interlaced behind the head.
2. Open up the top elbow and allow the head and upper back to follow, finding yourself in a spinal twist.
3. Hold the twist for three breaths and then return.
Repeat x 10
1. Great for stretching out the back after a long day of sitting.
2. Lay on your tummy with legs hip-width distance apart and toes pointed.
3. Have the hands flat on the mat in front of your shoulders.
4. Press through the hands and lift the head, shoulders and upper back off the mat, coming into a spinal extension.
5. You can make the stretch stronger by walking the hands in closer to your body. You can also lift the head.
6. Hold for three breaths and then lower.
Repeat x 5
Great for anyone with tight hips! Sitting creates tightness in the hips so try this after a long day of sitting.
1. Find a long lunge position by swinging one leg forward and landing the foot between the hands, keeping the back heel raised.
2. Try to sink the hips down and open the chest.
3. Rock the body forward and backward on the back toes, feeling the deep hip opening through the front of the back leg. You may feel other parts of the legs stretching too – go with it!
Rock 10 times and then repeat on the other side.
1. Great for strengthening the muscles in your upper back between your shoulder blades to better support your posture.
2. Lay on your tummy with legs hip-width distance apart and toes pointed, elbows bent and out to your sides.
3. Gently tuck the tailbone under, feeling your abdominal muscles draw away from the mat beneath you.
4. Inhale and lift up your head, neck and shoulders, keeping a tuck on the chin.
5. Exhale and lower down slowly.
Repeat x 15
Great for strengthening the back muscles, core muscles and shoulder stabilisers.
1. Start on hands and knees, knees under hips and hands under shoulders.
2. Find a long spine position by visualising your spine growing taller, and lift your head in line with the spine.
3. Inhale and prepare.
4. Exhale and reach out your left arm and right leg, keeping the body as still and stable as possible (no rocking side to side). I like to visualise my morning coffee balancing on my low back – what a shame it would be to spill!
5. Inhale and slowly return.
Alternate sides and repeat x 15 each side.
Kneeling arm lifts
Great for strengthening the triceps and upper back muscles, helping you sit taller with ease.
1. Start kneeling, then sit the hips back into a squat position and allow the upper body to fold forward on a long diagonal.
2. Gently roll the shoulders back, feeling them squeeze together behind your back.
3. Have the arms straight, with palms pointing behind your body.
4. Inhale and lengthen the spine.
5. Exhale and lift the arms behind the body, past the hips.
6. Inhale and lower them back down, until the fingers point to the mat.
Repeat x 20.
This is great with a set of hand weights too!
Pilates is all about the way you feel. As you practice the exercises, tune into what feels good for your body. It may be a sign that you should be doing more of that exercise.
Chloe de Winter is a physiotherapist, Pilates instructor and founder of online Pilates studio Go Chlo Pilates.