Office Pilates: promote your posture
It’s happened: The euphoria of the new year is now a distant memory and we’re firmly back to the 9-5 grind. Thanks to hours spent at your desk, plus the unrelenting dismal weather, you’re probably feeling stiff, lethargic and a tad miserable. Well, we’re here to turn that around.
The positive effects of Pilates on the mind and body are well-established, but it can be hard to fit in a regular class alongside the demands of busy working life. ‘Sitting down for prolonged periods of time can be extremely detrimental to our health – it’s been related to both high blood pressure and obesity,’ say Natalie Ziegler, Pilates instructor at Core The Studio. ‘Over the course of the day, sitting in front of a computer can lead our bodies to tighten and our backs to ache. To remedy this, I’ve devised Office Pilates; a range of helpful moves that can be practised at your desk, discreetly and without disturbing co-workers.’
This short sequence of Pilates moves can help with back pain and – as every move is easily achievable at a desk – it’s perfect for releasing tension in the body while at work:
1 Core breathing
Pilates always starts with your core. To find your core, form a triangle with your hands, placing your thumbs on your belly button. The area within the triangle is your core. While sitting, find your best posture. Inhale and let your torso expand with air, like a balloon. As you exhale, press the air out of your stomach and torso, concentrating on pulling stomach in towards your spine.
2 Neck flexing
Sit up tall in your chair and place your head in your hands. Curl your head backwards into your arms, exhale and twist gently towards the right side. Pause at a depth of your twist where you can still breathe deeply and gaze over the right shoulder. After two minutes, repeat on the left-hand side.
3 Back bend
Move your body towards the front end of your chair. Ground the soles of your feet on the floor, which will help prepare the lengthening of your spine. Inhale deeply and place both hands, palms facing down, behind your back. Now gently push your body forward. Lower the shoulders and softly relax your head towards the back of the chair. This is an adaptation of the bridge pose – it is renowned for stimulating abdominal organs to regulate metabolism and improve digestion.
4 Shoulder circles
Sit upright in your chair. Circle the shoulders back and forth for five reps. The slower you go, the more tension you’ll release.
5 Chin tilt
Sit with as much as much space between your shoulders as possible. Gently nod your chin down towards your chest, as if you are trying to hold an orange between your chin and chest. Repeat several times without curling your shoulders or upper back.
6 Ankle flexors
Sit in your chair with one leg crossed over the other. Begin to point the toes of the top leg as far away from you as possible, then flex the toes back. Repeat for 10 reps, then change legs.
7 Calf stretches
This time, stand up and give yourself a stretch break. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Your feet should be parallel, facing forwards and your core should be engaged. Now bend your knees to your toes and straighten them again. Rise up on to the balls of your feet and slowly come back down to the floor. Repeat for 20 reps.
8 Hip opener
Keep one foot firmly on the floor and place your other foot across to your right thigh. Take your right hand and very gently push on the raised thigh. Now twist towards the opposite shoulder and breathe deeply. Aim for a two-minute stretch, then change legs.
9 Leg extension ankle stretch
Bring yourself to the edge of your chair. Lift your knee in the air and rest it on your desk. Lift the kneecap and thigh muscle slightly upwards to engage the abdominal muscles. Flex the foot and activate your toes. Sit up as straight as possible and inhale deeply. Stay for 10 breaths, then change legs.
10 Reverse arm stretch
Take your arms to the back of your chair and press your palms together, with your fingertips pointing towards the ceiling. Inhale and exhale, until your body feels grounded.
For more Pilates tips and to book a class with Natalie at Core The Studio, visit corethestudio.com