Correct Computer Posture With Pilates
Like it or not, computers are here to stay.
While it’s probably fair to say that the majority of people are grateful for computer technology (especially in the past year of the pandemic), sitting at a computer for long stretches of time can present all sorts of problems for the musculoskeletal system.
One of the most common problems is what’s referred to as computer poster. You’ve seen it. It’s that hunched over position many of us unwittingly assume when working at our computers.
Fortunately, you can correct computer posture with Pilates.
How Technology Wreaks Havoc On Our Bodies
Next time you’re at your computer or on another device, notice the position of your back, shoulders, and head. At first you may be diligent about your posture. But you’ll likely notice after about 30 minutes that you slouch your back, round your shoulders, and jut your head forward (also known as “tech neck”).
All of these actions create undue stress on the muscles and underlying structures of the body. Muscles are either overstretched, or put into a state of tension.
And it’s not just about having a sore back and poor posture. There is a growing concern for the increase in disorders that are a result of prolonged computer use. For instance, the compression of the median nerve in the wrist can cause Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Chronic swelling of the tendon at the elbow is known as Epicondylitis.
You can also experience swelling and even tearing of the tendons around the shoulder, as well as an aggravated sciatic nerve which can cause pain to radiate from the lower back to below the knee.
Thus, it’s pretty tough to deny that despite all of the convenience of technology, it does not encourage us to use our bodies in the most ideal fashion. You could even say it contributes to a postural meltdown.
Ways to Correct Computer Posture With Pilates
Pilates is a healthy and effective way to reverse the postural damage from spending too much time slouched in front of the computer,
That’s because the central focus of Pilates is working from the core. The mindful and intentional movements aim to build and strengthen the postural muscles. And where there is a strong core, there is the ability to maintain a strong and upright position.
The movements in Pilates also emphasize maintaining a neutral pelvic tilt. When the pelvis is unnaturally tilting forward or backward, it puts stress on the lower back. And since the lower back supports the upper back, neck, and shoulders, it’s crucial to keep that foundation steady and neutral.
Even if you’re not currently feeling pain but are aware that your posture is suffering, it’s important to address it as soon as possible. The body is incredibly adaptive and it will accommodate the positions in which you spend the most time. But over time, this becomes detrimental.
Take An Assessment
You can get a sense of how (un)supportive your core muscles are by following five fairly simple steps next time you sit down at your computer to work.
- Situate yourself on the edge of your seat and place your feet flat on the floor.
- Lift your chest as though someone tied a string to your sternum and is pulling it towards the ceiling.
- Roll the shoulders away from the ears and your shoulder blades down your back. Keep the shoulders gently drawn back and collar bones widening.
- Imagine now that the top of your head is magnetically drawn to the ceiling.
- Finally, gently pull your belly button in toward the spine.
See how long you’re able to maintain this position. The stronger your core, the longer you’ll be able to hold it. And with a regular Pilates practice, this position will begin to feel more habitual than the slouching that’s become your go-to.
Getting Started At Home
Of course, there’s nothing that can top working under the guidance of skilled Pilates instructors who can assess your situation and design a practice for you.
But there are some exercises you can try at home when you need to take a break from the computer. These exercises will move the parts of your spine that feel stiff and stretch out tightened muscles so as to restore comfortable movement in all directions.
1. Swan Dive
Situate yourself on a mat on the floor and lie belly down with your arms bent to 90 degrees; forearms on the floor.
Engage your lower abs and pelvic floor slightly. Take a deep exhale while drawing your shoulder blades back gently and lifting the breastbone.
On the inhale, allow the breastbone and shoulders to return to their original position. Repeat this eight to ten times.
2. Arm Openings
Lie on one side with your head down on the mat, legs drawn in half way toward chest. Extend the arms straight in front of you; one arm on top of the other, palm to palm. Be sure that the knees and hips are stacked.
Gently tighten your pelvic floor and abs and take in a breath.
As you exhale, let the top arm float away from the bottom arm and turn the breastbone up toward the ceiling. Allow the arm to open all the way out to the side in a full spinal twist.
Breathing in roll the breastbone back to midline and the top arm comes to settle back onto the bottom arm. Repeat 15 times.
3. Dumb Waiter
You’ll need a resistance band for this one, but it’s fairly simple and you can even do it while you’re sitting in your chair.
Sitting up tall and conscious of an upright posture, hold the resistance band in each hand. Keeping the elbows in toward the sides, breathe out and draw the shoulder blades back as you open your arms away from one another.
As you inhale, bring it back in and relax. Repeat eight to ten times.
Sit Up Tall and Straight
You can begin with the above exercises and movements to start improving your posture. But if you want to truly correct computer posture with Pilates, your best bet is to work with instructors at a qualified facility.
Contact us today to find out how we can help you correct postural mishaps while getting a stronger and tighter core through Pilates.
Once you gain that strength, you’ll be amazed how easy it is to sit up straight!