There are some exercises that you just can't do often enough. Three examples: wall slides, thoracic rotations, and the passive-lock single-leg hip raise. Unusual names, yes. But while you may not be familiar with these moves, chances are you should be doing them every day. Why? Because they help offset the toll that working on a computer -- or even a mobile device -- takes on your body.
Specifically, that toll is poor posture, which frequently leads to neck, shoulder, and back pain. And because sitting and slumping as you type, surf, or text can consume hours of your day, the more frequently you perform these moves, the better. The best part: You can do these no-weight, no-sweat exercises anywhere. (And for more ways to exercise anywhere you are, check out The 52 Best Places to Work Out in America.)
Exercise 1. Wall Slide
Stop what you're doing right now, and imagine that there's a string attached from the ceiling to your chest. Now imagine that the string is being tightened, pulling your chest closer towards the ceiling. If you were sitting with good posture, your chest wouldn't rise much. But if you're like most people, you just raised up a few inches. This is a good way to see how much you slump. And if you do, you should start doing an exercise called the wall slide immediately.
For best results, do 10 to 15 reps of this exercise up to three times a day. It's easy to do in your office, and it's also a great warmup before you lift weights. Yes, it looks simple -- and it is. But you'll love how good it makes your shoulders and upper back feel.
2. Passive-Lock Single-Leg Hip Raise
It's not just slumping that hurts your posture. Simply sitting can be harmful, too. For instance, when you sit constantly -- as most of us do -- the muscles on the fronts of your hips become short and tight. What's more, your glutes -- or butt muscles -- actually forget how to contract. (Think about it: With so much chair time, they're not being used for much of anything except padding for your hipbones.) Now, the combination of tight muscles on the front of your hips and weak muscles on your backside causes your pelvis to tilt forward. This pushes your lower abdomen outward, making your belly pooch out -- even if you don't have an ounce of fat. Worse, it also puts stress on your lumbar spine, which can lead to low-back pain.
But the passive single-leg hip raise can help. It strengthens your glutes and teaches them how to contract again -- which helps move your pelvis back into its natural alignment. Do 5 to 6 reps for each leg, holding the top position of the exercise for 3 to 5 seconds. Make this exercise a daily habit. (And make sure you also check out 20 Habits That Fight Fat.)
3. Thoracic Rotation
Like wall slides, this is another great exercise for your upper body posture. Just look around your office: See anyone with a hunch in his upper back? (Make sure to take an honest look in the mirror, too.) Compare his posture to that of Superman. The difference should jump at you: Superman has his chest up and shoulders pulled back; your colleague is just the opposite. The reason is simple: Your muscles and connective tissue tend to "set" in the position your body is in the most often.
Now you can't fix eight hours of slumping with just one exercise. But you can counteract some of the daily damage using thoracic rotation. This exercise helps "mobilize" your upper back by rotating at your thoracic spine. (That's where the name comes from.) This helps restore natural, healthy posture. It also feels really good! Do 10 reps on each side. Frequently. (One other good-posture tip: Read Six-Pack Science to guarantee a rock-solid core -- it can save your back and make you look better on the beach.)
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