Do you have pain in your upper or lower back pain from sitting in front of a computer all day? This is a combination of sitting with improper posture and not doing anything to activate those muscle that are getting short and weak or stretching the tight and overactive muscles.

Sitting in this fashion can cause a multitude of issues from sexual dysfunction to decreased blood flow. Check out my previous article on posture to learn more about that.

Here I am going to talk about chair exercises you can do at work to not only help correct your posture, but to actually get your heart up a little. As usual, start of with a little warm up. Anyone with tight hips should be doing this daily.

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Simple leg swings, forward and backwards and side to side can help loosen up the hip flexors that are constantly flexed when sitting.

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Then you can move onto multi-joint or compound movements to activate and mobilize the ankles, knees and hips. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart with about 60% of your weight on your heels and sitting back, barely touching the chair and stand back up.

To make this more challenging you can hover about the chair and hold each squat for 5 seconds for sets of 10. (You can also throw the arms out in from as you squat to include the shoulders and act as a counterbalance)

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Then we can go ahead and activate the core by doing an incline plank or a decline based on your ability. Make sure you are pulling in your bellybutton and squeezing your glutes in order to stabilize your back. If the plank is too easy raise a leg or do mountain climbers. (Not the best to do on a rolling chair).

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Next we will create a little bit of thoracic extension, so we don’t look so hunched over by interlocking the fingers and pulling the elbows back as far as you can, being careful not to hyperextend the low back too much. Hold this for a long as it feels good, release and go again.

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Then we can get into getting the heart rate up a little bit

Here is your routine:

Exercise Sets Reps
Bulgarian split squat 3 10 each leg
Push ups 3 12
Single leg hip bridge 3 10 each leg
Dips 3 12
Lateral Lunge 3 8 each leg
Knee tuck 3 30 seconds
Decline single leg plank 3 20 seconds each leg

Bulgarian Split squat

Use another chair in front of you for balance if you need to.

-Focus the weight on the heel of the front foot and drive through the heel to activate your quads and glutes.

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Push up

Move the chair up against the wall to prevent slippage and try to keep your elbows nice and close to the body. Pull the bellybutton in a squeeze your glutes.

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Single leg hip bridge

Get your heel up the chair, hands out to the side. Raise one leg up in the air and drive through the heel until your hips are fully extended. Again, pull the belly button in as your squeeze your glutes. Return your hips to the floor and repeat. Try to marry your knees together as you go through the movement.

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Dips

This one can be dangerous on the shoulders if not done properly, so be cautious. Begin with hands on the edge of the chair (front or side depending on the width of the chair. Wide chair = front, narrow chair = side) and slowly let yourself sown towards the ground. Don’t go past 90 degrees and make sure your back is nice and close to the chair.

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Lateral lunge

Get one foot on the chair fully extended. Make sure the heel of the foot on the floor is flat and focus on driving your hips back and down rather than to the side. You will ultimately travel to that side, but this will help you stay on the heel and save your knees. We like our knees.

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Knee tuck

This is a core stabilization and shoulder stability exercise. Begin with hands on the side of the chair and simply tuck your knees and lift your butt off the chair and hold it.

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Decline single leg plank

(See above)

If you have time, here are some stretches you can perform afterwards to help with recovery, flexibility and mobility.

You will hear many ways of stretching and how long you should stretch. Some universal truths about stretching.

1.- Don’t stretch until you have warmed up
2.- Do not perform ballistic or bouncing stretches EVER
3.- Dynamic stretching before a workout is good
4.- Stretching helps increase blood flow
5.- Stretching decreases the risk of injury if done properly
6.- Breathing through your stretching will increase your range of motion

Hold each stretch for as long as it feels good and repeat 2 or 3 times

Hip flexor/QL/quad stretch

Set your foot on the chair and drive the hips forward as your reach over the top of your head.

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Triceps

Reach over the back of your head as if you’re trying to zip up a dress. Grab the elbow with the other hands and gently pull down.

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Lat stretch

Make sure your thumb is pointing up and let the chest fall towards the floor

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Hamstring

(We should stretch the hamstring like this normally as it inhibits us from flexing the low back). Put your hands on your opposite knee to support as you push your hips back and drive your chest down the ground.

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Chest

Elbow at 90 degrees on the chair and let yourself fall into the stretch to help stretch the pectoral muscle. Essential if you have shoulder issues.

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Lumbar stretch

Grab one knee and pull that knee to your chest while puffing out your chest.

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