When I began my personal training internship, I studied Functional Improvement Training. Most Americans work in a sedentary environment in conditions that are not ideal for our bodies. Extended sitting at a desk, cradling a phone under your ear, and hunched forward leering at a computer screen are all poorly postured activities that most of us are doing for most of our day, and most of our lives.
Functional training serves to correct the imbalances, aches, and weaknesses developed in the office lifestyle. So what can we do to correct those things on the regular? Not all of us have the opportunity for a mobile office, so here are some work-arounds:
Practice Active Sitting
Should your office allow it–I don’t see why not, if your own expense–purchase a ball chair. A ball chair is a standard exercise ball set in a round frame with wheels that you can sit atop of in lieu of an office chair. The ball will encourage you to sit upright and balance yourself, engaging your core muscles even while at rest. This is called active sitting. Of course, if you slump forward and lean on your desk, it negates the benefit of the chair.
There are lower lumbar supports that you can place on a standard office chair as well to encourage you to sit up straight. Additionally, those corset style waist trainers will hold you accountable in sitting upright, but they aren’t for everyone and I wouldn’t recommend them for daily use.
Get Up From Your Desk and Walk
As often as you can. Take the long route to the printer; go outside and get some fresh air; walk to lunch, and if you don’t mind the funny looks–I don’t–do some walking lunges on your way to wherever you’re going. I’d rather my coworkers think I’m quirky than have loose, flabby legs.
Stretch before you get to work, when you get to work, and after the day is done. Stand up when you take a phone call and grab your ankle for a quick quad stretch.
Bend backwards; backbends are actually really good for your back as much as that seems counterintuitive. We spend so much time slumping forward; a cobra pose or just a slight back bend while standing is a good reset for your spine.
Finally, my favorite tool is a cheap one that feels great. Get yourself a foam roller. It’s only about $15 at Marshalls. Rolling out your muscles feels great and is great for your circulation.