Many of our clients spend hours, day after day sitting in front of the computer. The intense focus on the matter at work in the digital device combined with poor posture can create the muscle imbalances that are the fertile ground for future injuries. In this article we will focus on upper body, specially shoulders and back.
Generally the chronically tight muscles will include the muscles that round your shoulders and internally rotate your upper arm (subscapularis, teres major, anterior deltoid, pectorals major and minor), the muscles that hold your neck forwards – side and back neck muscles (sternocleidomastoid, upper trapezius, scalenes and levator scapulae). At the same time the muscles that externally rotate your arm (infraspinatus, teres minor, posterior deltoid), the ones that open your chest and draw the shoulder blades down (serratus anterior, rhomboids, middle and lower trapezious) are not worked at all and may become weak.
The beauty of yoga postures is that, when done with proper alignment they stretch tight muscles and strengthen weak ones, helping the body create a more balanced pattern of posture. This can prevent chronic neck and back pain and rotator cuff injuries.
Five Yoga Postures to Balance your Upper Body after a long day sitting in front of the computer
Savasana with bolster along the spine and hands under the neck (photo) Lie on a bolster positioned directly under the first two thirds of your spine with the shoulders hanging on the sides and the palms of the hands facing up. Your legs are extended forwards resting on the floor, with your toes resting outwards. Bring a rolled towel under your neck so that your chin is perpendicular to the ceiling and your jaw is relaxed. Allow your body to rest here for seven minutes to fifteen minutes. Take out the towel. If you are experiencing lower back pain in this posture, place another bolster under your knees or bend your knees. This posture helps open the chest, stretching pectoral muscles and brings space in the back of the neck.
Gomukasana – Cow Face pose (photo) Sit on a block or a pillow with the spine long and the legs crossed (you can also sit on a chair), bring your right arm up beside your right ear and bend the elbow, placing the right hand in between shoulder blades. Bring your left are up beside your left ear and hold your right elbow with your left arm opening your chest. Take a breath there. Keep your right arm where it is and bring your left arm down and bend the elbow across the back so that the finger reach the fingers of the right hand. If the fingers doesn’t reach, use a strap (or scarf). Keep your shoulders down and open. Stay for seven breaths and repeat on the other side. This posture help stretch deeper shoulder muscles like the subscapularis and strengthens the infraspinatus.
Purvotanasana preparation Upward Plank pose prep (photo) Sit with your sit bones on the floor and your knees bent, your feet on the floor aligned with your sit bones. Place your hands behind your pelvis with your shoulders externally rotated and your fingers facing forward towards your pelvis. Draw your shoulders down. The weight on your hands should be distributed throughout all of your hand including your fingers. Press down and out through your hands opening your chest. Keep your pelvis on the floor. Stay for seven breaths. This posture helps open up your chest, stretching tight muscles in the front (pectorals) and streghening weak muscles that help stabilize your shoulders (rhomboids, middle and lower trapezius).
Tadasana Mountain pose with interlaced finger on the back of sacrum (photo) Stand with feet hip width apart. Feel the contact of your feet with the floor. Bring your toes up and then down. Activate your center. Interlace your fingers behind your pelvis touching the heels of your hands together. Bend your elbows and point them back. Externally rotate your shoulders and bring them down. Soften your knees and extend your elbows. Make sure that your lower back and neck stays long. Take seven deep breath here. Rest and repeat one more time. This grounding posture helps balance the effects of rounding your back in front of the desk, opening your chest and engaging the middle back muscles.
Warrior I with cactus arms Virabhadrasana I (photo) From Tadasana bring your right foot back, your feet around 3 to 4 feet apart. Bend your front knee so that it is right on top of the left ankle, in a 90 degree angle. The back foot is turned in about 30 degree angle with the outer border of the foot on the floor. The pelvis and heart are facing forward. Raise your arms up beside your ears and keep your shoulders down. Bend your elbows so that they are in line with your shoulders. Keep your hands open facing forward. Notice your shoulder blades moving towards the midline and down your back, feel your chest opening. Take seven breaths here. This posture strengthens the middle and lower trapezius and rhomboids, as well as your legs.
If you have any questions please contact me. I could also teach you this on a one-on-one yoga class.
Soledad Torres RYT and co/owner of Integrated Therapies