Earlier this month Gary was featured as part of Tesco Living’s health & wellbeing articles. Gary’s vast experience in combating the effects of modern working life was called upon as he put together a series of six essential exercises for desk bound workers.
1. Stomach crunches on a ball
Support your lumbar spine by strengthening the deepest of your abdominals – the transverse abdominis. These wrap around the spine to help protect and stabilise it.
Pilates or yoga are great for working on these muscles or if you’re a gym-goer, try stomach crunches on a Swiss ball, or bosu ball.
“The latter is rather like a Swiss ball chopped in half,” says Gary. “When you sit or stand on it, you have to engage your stomach muscles to keep your balance. Try standing on it to do squats, or lie on the rounded part for stomach crunches. Because it’s unstable, it forces you to use your very deep transverse abdominis muscles, and so will give you much more spinal strength and support than if you are just doing a stomach crunch lying on a floor.”
2. Leg raises at your desk
Sit upright so that you have a natural curve in your spine and inch forwards so you’re on the edge of your seat.
“Raise the knee up, straighten it, bend and replace the knee to the floor,” says Gary. “Then do this with the other leg. It’s a very simple move but it engages the deep abdominal muscles, and also your thighs.”
At home or in the gym, try this exercise while sitting on a Swiss ball to work your stomach muscles even harder.
3. Seated row
If you tend to slouch at your desk, include exercises to protect your upper back. In the gym, a rowing machine or the ‘seated row’ machine are great, or alternatively, grab a dumb-bell and try an exercise called ‘the bent over row’.
To do this, kneel with your left knee on a bench, and the dumb-bell in your right hand. Face forwards and with your back straight, bend forwards at the hips until your back is almost parallel to the floor. Pull the dumb-bell towards you, then lower the weight. Repeat.
4. Sit up straight
Sit at the front of your chair at your desk. “Push your pelvis forwards and you can feel your lower back coming into an arched position,” says Gary. “That is the correct sitting position for you to be in. Make sure your knees face downwards.
“This position works the lower back and stomach muscles, and will help prevent you developing back pain in the long-term.”
5. Stretch it out
Lie on your back, cross your legs and pull your knees in towards your chest for a lower spine stretch.
“The lower spine gets really contracted and compressed from sitting in a poor position and not moving, and this stretch helps to counteract it,” says Gary.
6. Try a neck stretch at your desk
For a simple but effective neck stretch that you can do at your desk, turn your head to one side while your torso faces forwards. Then reach down with your left hand, keeping your upper body and shoulders still.
You can also view the article now on the Tesco Living website.