7 quick Pilates Exercises to do at your desk
Having recently done some News Reading shifts in a nod to my old job as a BBC Broadcast Journalist, i noticed how many people didn’t move from their desks for hours on end and struggled to maintain their posture, which got me thinking about some simple exercises all office workers could benefit from.
Firstly, we know all know that sitting in static positions is not great for us and that in theory we should move often throughout the day. Although, what we know we should do and what we actually do are often two very different things, especially when we get caught up in our job.
However, the reason us Pilates instructors are always telling us to take those screen and desk breaks every 20 minutes, even for only 30 seconds is because when we sit for long periods of time our joints stiffen up in the spine, all the way from the neck, down through the ribcage and into the low back and pelvis. All the joints in the legs can stiffen up – hips, knees, ankles. Shoulders stiffen due to the muscles surrounding the shoulder being under tension as you use your mouse and type. Think of the feeling you get when standing up from your aeroplane seat after a long flight, it takes a moment to feel able to stretch up to your full height. Sitting at a desk is doing this to a degree every day.
Pilates takes your spinal joints and the joints in your arms and legs gently through their available motion and can help to counteract the problems encountered from sitting all day. Stiffened joints slowly start to release and improve joint range when doing Pilates. Core control improves and supports the joints. Joints are moved frequently into the range where they are stiff, they gradually ease out, creating more supple joints which move fluidly. Therefore, if you can attend just one class a week it will make an enormous difference to your body, to see class availability click here Tiptoe Pilates. However, if you can’t attend a class, or in between your classes there are things you can do every day to help as well. Make every excuse to get up and stand or walk – to the photocopier, the water fountain, even when you answer a phone call and try to include the following exercises throughout your working day….
Whether sitting or standing find your best posture inhale and let your torso expand with air like a balloon – without letting your tummy pop/ protrude out. As you exhale press the air out of your lungs imaging you are sending the breath out through your mid back – as you do this feel how your tummy automatically tightens and is activated – (imagine as if you were wearing a corset and someone is pulling the strings from behind – your entire core – centre would be drawn inwards) hold this sense of tightness and then continue to do a further 6 full breaths
Sometimes simple is best and that is definitely the case with this simple but very effective exercise.
Sit or stand while putting as much space between your ears and shoulders – drawing your shoulder blades downwards. Then nod your chin down towards your chest as if you are trying to hold an orange between your chest and chin. You should feel a stretch through your shoulders and down your neck. Repeat the chin tilt several times without letting the shoulders or upper back curl forwards.
Sit or stand in a tall upright position – imaging you have a rubber band coming out of the crown of your head lifting you up – engage your core / tighten your corset, then begin to circle your shoulders upwards and forwards then upwards and backwards. Do each direction 5 times. As with all of these exercises the more slowly and controlled your moves are, the greater the benefit.
Sit or stand in a tall upright position – imaging you have a rubber band coming out of the crown of your head lifting you up – engage your core / tighten your corset, then hold your arms out in front of you with your palms facing up and your elbows tucked into your sides. Imagine, that you are holding two bowls of soup in your hands. Then begin to move your hands out away from your centre but still keep your elbows tucked into your sides and your shoulders down, you should feel the movement in between your shoulder blades, let the arms come back into your centre so they are parallel and our elbows are directly under your shoulder blades Repeat the move 6 times.
Sit or stand in a tall upright position – imaging you have a rubber band coming out of the crown of your head lifting you up – engage your core / tighten your corset, then keeping your leg still, flex your foot, moving only your ankle joint and circle your foot outwards. Complete a full circle trying to keep your foot and toes lengthened and free from tension.
Repeat the ankle circle 5 times in each direction and then move on to the other ankle. If standing to do this exercises you many want to hold onto the back of a chair or wall for support.
This exercise is perfect for getting air moving in and out of to your body and clearing the after-lunch fog. Try it whenever you feel foggy. Standing in a tall upright position – imaging you have a rubber band coming out of the crown of your head lifting you up – engage your core / tighten your corset and place your feet hips distance apart and feet parallel. Bend your legs slowly, keeping your knees over your toes but not beyond them and keeping your back straight. Arms can be casually at your sides.
At the bottom point pause, then slowly rise up to the balls of your feet, pausing again at the top.
Lower yourself back down onto your heels, resting before you repeat.
Aim for 8-10 repetitions.
Seated pelvic tilts:
You can sit or stand to do this exercise but if not done before, it is best to start off seated. Either way start in a tall upright position – imaging you have a rubber band coming out of the crown of your head lifting you up – engage your core / tighten your corset. Then curl your pubic bone up towards your belly button then release back to your starting position. Do this 6-8 times several times a day.
If it’s been awhile since you’ve exercised and you have health issues or concerns, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.