Staying physically and mentally fit is the young person's holy grail, but there's simply no one right way to do it. In our Body Conscious series, we'll explore how some people protect their minds and bodies. Today, we move through four quickie stretches that abate sitting and hunching pains.
Don’t lie—you spend more time hunched over your computer than anywhere else. You shouldn’t feel too badly about it, it’s just a consequence of the time. Our ancestors were out tilling the fields; we shrivel away in front of a variety of screens. We’ll have to console ourselves with the knowledge that we probably won’t die of diphtheria. But we don’t have to let ourselves go just because we now enjoy lives of leisure. Bad posture can cause headaches, back and neck pain, and even permanent spine curvature. These exercises will leave you looking and feeling more comfortable and more confident, and are so easy that you don’t have to stop being a slouch to stop looking like one.
The next three exercises all involve resistance bands. They’re easy to find in fitness stores and online for prices as low as $5.
Straighten your back and place your feet hips’ width apart, holding the band in your upturned hands. Your forearms should be parallel to the floor and your elbows at your sides. Slowly pull your hands away from each other, stretching the resistance band while keeping your elbows tucked at your sides. Return your hands to their original positions, maintaining the tension and not allowing the band to snap back. You should feel this stretch in the tops of your shoulders. Perform three sets of fifteen.
Tie one end of the resistance band to something that’s about your height or taller—a sturdy pull-up bar, curtain or closet rod will do. Face sideways, so that your body is perpendicular to what you're tied to, and grasp the free end of the band with the hand that’s farthest away from it. Your arm should be straight, reaching across your chest. Then, being sure to keep your arm straight, lower it towards the other side of your body. Slowly raise your arm again and repeat, doing three sets of fifteen with each arm.
Stand on one end of the resitance band with your left foot and hold the other end of the band in your right hand. Without bending your wrist, bring your arm upwards and to the right until it's raised above your head. Perform three sets of fifteen of these with both arms.
Standing Chest Stretch
You can do this stretch anywhere, anytime, while sitting or standing. With your arms straight, clasp your hands together behind your back, and slowly raise them skyward. Keep them in the air for about 20 seconds, then lower and repeat. This is a great quick fix for any slouching-caused back pain.