Experts recommend that those of us working at our desk for long periods of time be sure to take mini-breaks to save our hands and back. Below is a description of a simple back extension exercise taken from the yoga sun salutation and recommended by the American Physical Therapy Association. I have added some suggestions for working effectively, and a sitting version for those tied to their desks.
Time Required: 2 Minutes
- If you have an back injury or condition or back pain, ask your doctor if this exercise is appropriate for you. This article only describes how to do this exercise; it does not recommend that you do it. Only your medical professionals can tell you if you should.
- Stand upright in a relaxed, yet aligned position. Your feet should be parallel to one another and arms down by the sides. Your gaze should be forward and chin tucked a little. Inhale, then exhale and gently pull your stomach toward your back. Knees are easy, with a little bend in them.
- Take your arms over your head, by reaching them out to the sides first. It's like you are drawing half circles with each arm, simultaneously. While doing this elbows should be straight, but not locked. Take a moment to check the tension level at your elbows.
- When your arms reach their destination of over your head, the palms should be touching each other. Take your head back as you need to make room for your arms and to add a little more work to those back extensor muscles. Taking your head back slightly will add challenge to the back muscles, strengthening them more. Hold this position for 5-30 seconds.
- To give this exercise more oomph, you can reach your torso up towards the ceiling/sky as you hold the position.
- You can adapt this exercise for sitting by starting in this way:
- Sit up on your chair, arms by your side. Your 2 sitting bones should be contacting the chair firmly and evenly, but without gripping or tension in the buttock muscles. Pull your stomach toward your back. Do the exercise from this position.
Moffat, Marilyn, P.T. Ph.D. and Vickery, Steve. The American Physical Therapy Association Book of Body Maintenance and Repair. Owl Books. Henry Holt and Company, LLC. New York, New York, 1999. Stretch and Reach p.224