Get Fit to Sit – 5 Exercises for Better Desk Posture

This is the third and final blog entry in a series on sitting health.

If you have read my previous blogs on healthy sitting, you now realize that prolonged sitting is a health risk factor with negative consequences similar to smoking. Additionally, if you sit for an extended period of time, you might have pain and dysfunction, which can hamper your active lifestyle. It may seem strange to think of getting fit to sit! But the more aligned and functional your body, the less chance of discomfort while working on your computer.

I’ve taken the following five exercises from “Pain Free At Your PC” by Pete Egoscue with Robert Gittines. This is the program for Power PC Users. A Power PC user is someone who uses the computer for more than an hour a day. Sadly, most people I know spend far longer behind the keyboard!

These five exercises should take you approximately five minutes to do. Surely you can find five minutes a day to improve your posture and reduce your pain! Although doing these exercises is a great start, you will be even more successful if you include a personalized home program to retrain and realign your body.



Pain Free Athlete :: Get Fit to Sit - 5 Exercises for Better Desk Posture

1. Sitting In Extension
This is the starting position for each of the following eCises (Egoscue Cises) below. Place your feet flat on the ground, pointing straight forward. Then, make sure your legs are hip width apart at ninety degrees. Hip width refers to where your thigh bones come into the pelvis, which is narrower than the outside of your hips. You should feel your sit bones on the bottom of your butt pointing straight down towards the floor. The shoulders are pulled down and back. Finally, be sure you have an arch in the lower back and a straight line from the hips to the shoulders.

The tendency to slump is sometimes due to a lack of strength in this aligned sitting posture. Initially, you may notice some tension in your torso as you body adapts to the position. This is normal! It should reduce with time and repetition. You can increase the time holding the position from the starting 1 minute up to 3 or more.


2. Sitting Arm Circles
This exercise strengthens and repositions the upper body while maintaining proper pelvic position. The golfer’s grip hand position is intended to lock out the wrist. While you perform this exercise, you should feel tension in your forearms. Also, lock your elbows so that your shoulders are doing all of the work. If your elbows bend, your shoulder is compensating. So, avoid allowing your elbows to bend!  At first, do only as many reps as you can with good form. Then, as you grow stronger, increase the repetitions, up to 100 if possible.


3. Sitting Isolated Hip Flexor Lifts
If you sit for hours at your desk, your hip flexors can become dysfunctional and overly tight. A tight muscle is not a strong muscle! However, be careful when you lift your leg. Make sure that you do not lean back or shift your weight sideways. Before you begin, be sure that you are centered on your sit bones. Sometimes, it can be helpful to put your hands on your hip crease to focus on and feel the muscle as it activates. Gradually increase from 10 to 20 repetitions.


4. Sitting Chair Twist
This exercise will ring out the spine. releasing tension and strengthening the torso. When you twist, pull the shoulder blade you are twisting towards in and down towards the spine to increase the rotation.


5. Sitting Cats and Dogs
This exercise is like a self-massage, taking the spine through its entire range of motion. While you perform this, allow your head and cervical spine to flex and extend with the movements. Initiate the action by rolling your pelvis. Also, allow your shoulder blades to move together and apart as you move back and forth. If it feels good, you can do more than 10.

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About the Author


Jessica uses an integrative approach to help you overcome chronic pain. She believes in treating the whole person utilizing the biopsychosocial approach to healing. Her offerings include posture therapy, online exercise classes, pain science education, and individual or group wellness coaching. She is certified by the Postural Restoration Institute® (PRI), Egoscue University®, National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), American Council on Exercise (ACE) and Wellcoaches.