Photo Credit: Standsome Worklife via Unsplash
Whether you’re a student, professor, or even faculty, tight hip flexors, a weak core, internally rotated shoulders and weak glutes are all hallmarks of the damage wreaked on your body from sitting at home typing away at your computer all day long.
Though COVID-19 may be the culprit for our increased inactivity, there’s never been a better time to develop simple rituals to improve your domestic functionality and reverse the various stiffening, tightness and posture-deterioration that the pandemic has burdened us with. Here’s a few starting points to help you become a supple mover at home.
Understand how to be properly braced
Shoulders back, core engaged, chin semi-tucked, a neutral pelvis via glute-activation and toes facing forward; these are the positions you want to keep in mind whenever you’re walking up and down the stairs, sitting, standing, typing, etc.
The idea is to keep the spine neutral as often as possible so as not to overload individual vertebrae and accelerate the process of getting an injury; remember, issues in form and posture are accumulative, starting to reverse the count of inefficient/non-stable movements in your day will go a long way once we’re back to normal.
Workout the right stuff
The internet is your friend here, there’s tons of inventive ways to hit the muscles that help keep us in the aforementioned bracing position with very minimal equipment, if any at all. I’m just going to suggest a few key muscles to look into. First, the glutes are essential to keeping your pelvis locked in the proper spot, to do that, exercises like squats or bridges are helpful and easy to do just about anywhere.
Second, in order to deal with those shoulders (and neck position as a bonus) are the muscles that run along your thoracic spine. T-spine muscles work to pull your shoulders back into their proper positions and will give you a confident ‘chest-forward look’ to boot! In my opinion the king of t-spine exercises is the face-pull, you’ll just need a band and something to tie it to.
Again, the internet is a great place to get creative ideas to hit these muscles using things like broomsticks, towels, or no equipment at all, so get to it. Lastly, try to workout that core a few times a week. It’s important to remember that the core isn’t just the abdominals, it’s a series of integral muscles that all need to be worked in order to keep a stable trunk and take the load of your spine.
Look into myofascial release
Learning to be your own massage therapist can be the solution to a lot of pain that you have or is yet to come. Often, joint pain is the result of muscles above and below the problematic site being too tight or underdeveloped. A simple lacrosse ball has the potential to be your best friend during quarantine, those little rubber suckers are like the hands of an unapologetic masseuse, they can scrub, floss and release just about every muscle in your body, which will make getting into a proper bracing position much easier.
Mastering the uses of a lacrosse-ball to release tightness and messy muscle fibers can be a life-long aid. During quarantine I’ve dedicated around 40 minutes a day to myofascial release techniques to combat the tightness I’ve adopted from being glued to my bedroom office chair for hours everyday. That time investment has brought me rewarding returns that even have come to affect my grades, as I’m able to sustain longer periods of pain-free studying.
Stretching all the areas mentioned before is going to be very helpful for staying limber this holiday season. Try to build some basic stretches into your daily/weekly routines; yoga, basic stretches you remember from highschool gym class, or specific stretches you find on the internet, get em’ in. I’d personally recommend you make it a staple to stretch those pesky hip flexors — specifically the psoas — which are notorious for being tight due to a lack of lengthening with all the sitting we do.
And there you have it Badgers! I hope you can develop some positive habits and stay nice and functional from home this winter. Remember, developing these habits now will mean that when the good weather comes back around, you’ll be ready to roll.