Standing Desk Exercises from Certified Posture Specialist

Autonomous Autonomous | Sep 28, 2017
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Alas, we are here in modern-day society and must work within the realm of our technology, therefore, I bring you some simple standing desk exercises while using your office standing desk. Better yet, you don't have to take your hands off the keyboard.

Zeena Dhalla is a Certified Posture Specialist and self-proclaimed posture GEEK. She helps people eliminate neck and back pain through simple and effective home-based exercise routines. Download the 5 Minute Solution to Hunchback Posture if you want to improve your posture and get out of bed every morning with less pain and more pizazz!

If you’ve landed on this site, you’re clearly aware already of the benefits of standing desks and how they can positively impact your body.  As a Certified Posture Specialist, I see the impact that sitting has on the biomechanics of the body. Sitting bent at the hips for hours on end can negatively impact the hip flexors, can decrease utilization of the glute muscles, therefore making the lower back muscles tight and painful (if you have chronic lower back pain, read here to learn more about this issue).  Rounding forward to type on the computer tightens the neck and chest muscles, and facilitates a weakening in the ever important upper back musculature (if you know you have hunchback posture, read about this 5 minute solution). Sitting also shortens the breathing cavity and can prohibit long deep breathes, which in turn can cause a decrease in energy and exertion.

Purchasing an Autonomous standing desk option is a great solution to many of these issues!  However, standing for hours at length doesn’t really solve the biggest issue that plagues our computer focused society: lack of movement. In a standing desk scenario, the hip flexors are in a better position, the glutes will fire more, and the upper back has more opportunity to work harder, but people can still stand in a poor posture for hours at a time.

Humans were born to be hunters and gatherers. We were meant to sit, stand, lift, pull, push, hike and squat. Albeit better than sitting, our bodies were still not meant to stand, looking at a computer screen for a 12 hour day.

Alas, we are here in modern-day society and must work within the realm of our technology, therefore, I bring you some simple standing desk exercises you can do at your new Autonomous Desk while standing, while never taking your hands off the keyboard. These exercises will help to add movement into your everyday life, and activate muscles you probably didn’t know you needed to wake up. More importantly, since these exercises work the large muscles in the legs, they will increase blood flow to the body, which will increase energy and productivity! All this benefit from a few simple leg exercises:

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  • Standing hamstring curls: Your hamstrings are below your glutes and above your knee joint, and work some super important muscles that aid in hip extension (bringing your legs behind you when you walk). When hip extension is limited because the hamstrings are weak, our lower back muscles tend to take over.  This exercise can help combat this:

    • Stand on one leg straight and strong. Bend the other knee bringing the foot towards the glute.  Flex the foot as you bend the knee.

    • Lower the leg back down and tap the toe on the ground, then repeat bending the knee and bringing it to towards the glute again.

    • The super important part of this exercise is to make sure the upper part of the bending leg is parallel to the standing leg. Your body/mind will want to move this leg forward because it’s easier this way. Therefore, use your glutes and hamstrings to push the leg backwards as you bend the knee.

  • Standing calf raises and pulls: Your calves are at the base of the body. When they get tight and immobile, they can literally cause misalignment issues up the entire leg chain from the knees to the hips.  Tight calves can make squats difficult and cause serious pain in the joints.  Doing this exercise can create strength and flexibility as long as you do both parts of the movement:

    • Stand with the feet parallel to each other. Raise up on your balls of your feet. Make sure that you heels stay parallel, and that they don’t turn out or turn in. Feel equal pressure on the insides and outsides of the feet.

    • Lower the heels back down, and now lift the toes off the floor. Roll into your heels when you do this. Lift the toes up as much as you can, keeping the knees as straight as possible.

    • You will feel your body rolling back and forth on your feet as you do this. Enjoy the movement!

  • Standing leg circles: Our hip joint is a ball and socket joint. The femur bone was designed to move in many directions. However as we age, we lose this ability since we don’t use it much with our sedentary lifestyles. This next exercises is designed to increase mobility in the hip joint. As an added  bonus, the standing leg will get some extra glute activation!

    • Stand straight and strong on one leg. Squeeze the glute of the standing leg to make sure you have stability and don’t fall over.

    • Lift the other leg off the floor and out to the side.  Circle in around in one direction, keeping your abdominals muscles pulled in to help you balance.  The circles can be as big as you can make without having to hold on.

    • Circle the leg around for an even number of times in the opposite direction. Then repeat on the other leg.You will find you probably have to flex the circling foot in order to not have it drag on the ground.

The goal of these exercises is to increase the range of motion and endurance, therefore the repetitions have to be high. You can start each exercise at a minimum of 10 repetitions, and increase over time to 25 to 30. The focus, however, is not to count each repetition and feel like you are exercising, but rather to enjoy the movement in your body and spread the exercise out throughout the day. It may not be hunting or gathering (not sure we want to go back to this kind of lifestyle!), but these exercises will at least get your moving and shaking through your previously sedentary work day.

 

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