with these simple movements.
It is hard to stay motivated and keep moving when in order to keep safe we keep being restricted on what we can do. The pandemic lockdowns have resulted in an abundance of time indoors which inevitably results in more time sitting at our desks, dining tables and sofas. Whilst sitting itself is not dangerous, excessive sitting can have seriously negative effects on our well being. Sadly, even in pre pandemic times approximately 4 in 10 British adults were so immobile they risked their health from diseases associated with inactivity, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and various cancers. So inactivity could even be considered an ongoing pandemic!
Our bodies are designed to move and staying still halts many inherent processes which maintain our bodies in good health. If we sit still for long periods of time our blood flow gets slower, the natural flow of nutrients within our fascial system gets impeded and joints can stiffen. However even small amounts of movement can have a hugely positive impact on naturally maintaining the many healthy balances within our bodies. Just a few minutes scattered throughout your day can have a big impact on your well being.
Take five minutes now to move where you are. Moving doesn’t need to be complicated, you just need to move. I like to work from head to toe gently moving and mobilising every joint especially taking my spine in all the directions it is capable of going.
Try these 10 movements from your chair now:
Interlock your fingers behind your head with your elbows wide in your peripheral vision, gently resist the back of your head into your hands and reach the crown of your head towards the ceiling. Take a big breath in and lift your eyesight towards the ceiling in front of you extending your upper spine, allowing your chest to fill with air and broaden across your collar bones. Now exhale and nod your chin towards your chest lowering your eyesight to look down at your lap gently flexing/rounding your upper spine forwards. Do not pull on your head. Repeat for 6 breaths, reaching the top of your head towards the ceiling as you cycle between the extension and flexion positions.
Place your hands on your shoulders, draw circles with your elbows, try to make the circles as big as possible, try to touch your elbows in front of your chest and then take them far apart as you circle them around. Do 10 circles then change direction and repeat for 10 more circles.
Seated side bend. Reach one arm overhead and lean to the side reaching up and over. Imagine you are trying to reach up and pick an apple from a tree. Try not to lean forwards or backwards as you reach to the side. Repeat to each side 3 times.
Seated Spinal rotation. Reach your arms up overhead like a number 11, inhale creating length in your spine then rotate to the right, exhale lower your right hand onto the chair back behind you and your left hand onto your right thigh. Hold this position for a breath, think about keeping your shoulders level and your hips facing forwards so the twist comes from your thoracic upper/mid spine. Release from the twist and repeat to the left. Repeat both sides 3 times.
Wrist stretch. Turn your palms up then place your fingers against the edge of your desk and push your palm away from you, creating a stretch across the hand and the inside of your forearm. Great for counteracting so much time typing at the keyboard or scrolling on your phone. Hold for 6 breaths.
Lower body. Sit towards the front edge of your chair with your spine as tall and upright as possible, hold onto the chair with your hands for support, if required, whilst doing the following exercises:
Hug one knee up to your chest and feel a nice stretch. Repeat with each leg 3 times.
Lift your right leg out straight in front of you at the height of your chair, engage your quadriceps to keep your leg as straight as possible as you do little circles with your ankle 10x in one direction and then 10x in the opposite direction.
Straighten your right leg in front of you, again engage your quadriceps to keep your leg as straight as possible, flex your foot and push your heel away from you making your leg as long as possible. Now keeping your leg at the height of the chair slowly move your leg out to the right, creating a small arc. Draw the leg back in towards your mid line then repeat 10x. The slower you move the harder it is.
Point your toes away from you, imagine your big toe has been dipped in paint, now draw a circle with your big toe, make the circle as big as you comfortably can. Repeat 10x in one direction and then 10x in the opposite direction.
Now repeat exercises 2-4 with your left leg. They can also be done with your leg bent if space is lacking or you find it challenging to keep your leg straight (however keeping the leg straight is also great for strengthening your knees).
Finally, take a moment to get up from the chair and do a whole body movement of a Pilates roll down. Stand tall, feet hip distance apart. Nod your chin towards your chest and then keep rolling down towards the floor, allow your arms to fall towards the floor and bend your knees a little to relieve any strain on your lower back. Take a big inhale, feel the air expand the back of your ribs then as you exhale start to roll back up from the base of your spine to the crown of your head. Draw in on your abdominals as you roll back up to an upright standing position. Repeat 3 times.
Sprinkle these few movements into your day and feel the difference even a little extra movement can make on how alert and energised you are. At the very least get up from your chair at least once an hour to do a circuit of the room gently resetting your body and triggering some positive metabolic feedback loops.