No matter how much you exercise, office jobs are hard on the body. Tied to a desk, most of us will slump, hold our heads in uncomfortable positions and grow stiff. Our phones double this effect, creating a forward head and shoulder position that leaves the spine out of alignment. But you've got to work – so what can you do about it?
One of the best ways to recover from your day job is to use a simple foam roller to stretch out shortened, tense muscles resulting from poor posture. These easy exercises will help you achieve better posture and reduce back pain, hopefully making work and life a bit more pleasant.
1. The Snow Angel Stretch
Before diving into more extensive stretches, open up your chest with a Snow Angel. Laying the foam roller on the floor, align your spine parallel to it from head to tailbone so your neck doesn't fall backward. Bend your knees and hold your arms out perpendicular to your body with the palms up.
From here, move your arms slowly up and down along the side of your body as though making a snow angel, making sure to keep your chest muscles extended and open. This stretch can help reduce slumped posture and bring your shoulders back into alignment, reducing forward positioning caused by technology use.
You'll need a fairly long foam roller—one that's at least as long as your spine and head combined—to perform the snow angel. An all-purpose roller like those made by AmazonBasics and Gaiam should work for most athletes, coming in at 36 inches. Gold's Gym makes a similar roller, but at only 30 inches, it may be too short to provide proper spine and head support.
2. The Foam Roller Split Squat
The better your posture is going into your workday, the better you'll feel at the end of it. That's why you should spend some time building core stability and hip strength with Foam Roller Bulgarian Split Squats.
Foam Roller Bulgarian Split Squats offer a special challenge, forcing you to balance your back foot on the roller while squatting with the front leg. This unique variation also allows for a greater range of motion and increased hip mobility throughout the movement. Beginners can perform this exercise using just their body weight. A textured roller like the ProSource Sports Medicine foam roller can provide added stability and prevent the roller from slipping away, while less textured rollers can add instability and thus increased challenge.
For a simpler approach to improved posture, add some back bends to your stretching routine. By placing a foam roller perpendicular to the spine, you can achieve a deep thoracic stretch. Begin with a thinner roller. Over time you can move up to a thicker foam roller which allows for a more intense stretch.
3. Don't Neglect the Legs
When we think of office work as impacting our posture, we tend to focus on our upper bodies. But our legs also play an important role.
Your calves and the sides of your shins are most likely to grow tense during the workday, so start with the foam roller down by your ankle. With the other leg crossed on top, rock your calf back and forth along the roller. You'll also want to roll out the sides of your shins using an up-and-down motion along the length of your lower leg.
By working out the tension in your legs, you're more likely to sit up straight, improving your overall posture—and this logic applies across the body. Use a foam roller to lengthen and strengthen your muscles regularly and you'll kick the discomfort from long days at your desk.