Hours spent in one position can place a lot of strain on your body resulting in pain and muscle tension. I am not a big fan of writing about posture because I think way too much attention is given to it and that can make you feel like you have horrible posture and that you constantly need to do something about it.

As Science writer and massage therapist Paul Ingraham notes, you inherently know when your body is in a bad posture and therefore tend to fix and correct it. A better approach to fixing and addressing posture can be as simple as taking more frequent breaks and adding a little more more movement and exercise into your routine.

Check out his article here:  In his article Ingraham explores some of the myths and misconceptions of posture and whether or not you should bother correcting your posture.

A Simple Exercise for Better Standing and Seated Posture

Seated or standing think of yourself as puppet hanging from a string. The string is at the top of your head. This should feel as your spine is lengthening and lifting up. You will feel a natural lengthening and stretching in your low back and you may notice that your chin tucks and there is a lengthening and stretch in the back of your neck.

A common mistake when trying to stand straighter is to pull the shoulders, head, and neck back and to stick the chest out. This produces a hyperextension in the spine and pain and discomfort may be felt in the midback, neck and shoulders.

Here is a nice video for a more comfortable seated posture.  To look at common posture pitfalls that are uncomfortable go to 00:53 in the video. For how to sit more comfortably skip to 2:07.

Take Frequent Breaks

If you find that you are in one position for hours then take frequent breaks. Get up every hour and walk around for five minutes or stretch. If you have a bit longer of a break use some self massage and heat pad.

Exercise a Few Times a Week

Changing up your movement is important as well. Having an exercise that you enjoy doing and adding variety of movement is a great way to avoid postural strain. It can be anything from dancing, Tai Chi, tennis, swimming, yoga, walking, hiking, and anything else I failed to mention. It should be something you enjoy and offers a variety of different movement patterns.

Stretch One to Two Times a Day

When you are in one position for hours at a time there are certain muscles that are overworking to hold your posture. Here are some stretches that target the most common muscles that tend to be overworked.

When you stretch just go to a mild stretch and breathe. Focus on the inhale and exhale of your breath. Hold the stretch for about a count of five to ten breaths. Then move a little deeper into the stretch if you feel the intensity of the stretch decreased. When you are done stretching move out of the stretch slowly.

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Upper Trapezius Stretch: Keep your  right shoulder down. Bring your left ear to your left shoulder. Turn your head to the right as if you were looking up. Then bring your head and neck gently forward. Repeat on the opposite side. 

The upper trapezius is overworked in activities where the head and neck are forward of the shoulders, crimping a phone between the shoulders, holding the arm in front of you  (like painting,) holding objects on the shoulder or in your hand.



Levator Scapulae Stretch: Keep your right shoulder down. Bring your left ear to your left shoulder. Turn your head to the left as if you were looking down. Bring your head gently forward. Can you feel a difference between the upper trapezius stretch? Focus on whichever one feels tighter.



Spinal Muscles: Sitting on the floor or in a chair bend at the hips while rounding your back. Turn your head left and right to stretch different portions of your spinal muscles. 

Your spinal muscles work to hold up your trunk especially in postures where you are bent over. Gardening, working on your car under the hood, or working at the office are just a few examples.













Gluteus Maximus: Lie on your back. Bring your right knee up to your chest and to your opposite shoulder. 

The gluteal or hip muscles are important to provide movement of the legs which help let your spinal muscles provide stability to your spine. Your gluteals will help hold your posture in kneeling activities such as gardening, working on your knees while bent over like cleaning, or building furniture (you know, like those Ikea build it yourself furniture.)


Piriformis Stretch: While lying on the floor bend both knees. Bring your right foot to rest on your left knee. Then clasp your hands around your left thigh and bring your left thigh up to your chest. You will feel the the stretch in the right back of the hip.

The piriformis muscle is a muscle of the spine and hip. Many of the same postures such as kneeling while bent over that place stress on the gluteals will place postural stress on the piriformis. 

Self Massage and Heat Therapy

After a long day of being in one posture you can use a self massage tool such as a tennis ball or a backnobber to release tension in your muscles. You can use a heat pad that you can put in the microwave. Use the heat pad on each area for one to two minutes. Then apply some massage to the area for about two minutes. For a guide for muscles to target check out one my posts: http://h2tmuscleclinic.com/the-6-best-muscles-to-self-massage-for-instant-relief-of-neck-and-upper-back-tension/

Heat will help to promote circulation in the area. When your muscles work for prolonged periods of time it produces muscle cell metabolites (or waste) that can be irritating to the area. Heat will help circulate the metabolites out of the area as well as relax your muscles. Pressure on your muscles will also relax the muscles and help release trigger points and tension in the area.

Here is a video on how to use the backnobber for your back.

If you need a backnobber here is a link:Body Back Buddy Jr. : The Best Self Massage Tool

Here is a link for a heat pad: Nature’s Approach Aromatherapy Basic Herb Pack, Celestial Indigo

I hope you find these strategies helpful! Let me know what you think or if you have any questions in the comments below. Also, if you have any strategies you’ve found helpful I’d love to hear about them.


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Matthematt-squarew Snow is a Licensed Massage Therapist practicing in Greenwich, CT. If you would like to schedule or make an appointment call (203) 660-0584or email hello@h2tmuscleclinic.com. To learn more about Matt check out his About Page.