Hours sitting at a desk can lead to fatigue of stabilising muscles, discomfort and compensatory postures. Common postural changes include a slumped posture, protracted scapula (shoulder blades), tight chest muscles, sore, stiff neck and stiff thoracic spine.
The following Pilates exercises are beneficial to maintain mobility and strengthen the stabilising muscles of the shoulder girdle and upper back.
Why: This exercise focuses on rotation of the thoracic spine, movement for the upper back and opening stretch for tight chest muscles.
How: Support your head with a pillow and relax your neck muscles. Start with hands behind the head and open elbows then progress to open arm if you can stabilise the shoulder girdle against gravity. Use an exhale breath to help relax further into the rotation position.
2. Cat Stretch
Why: Mobility of the entire spine through flexion and extension.
How: Start on hands and knees. As you breathe in curl up through your spine, as you breathe out extend your spine and look forward.
3.Prone thoracic extension (Breast stroke Prep)
Why: Promoting movement of your thoracic spine (upper back) in extension. Counters the slumping position that many of us find ourselves in.
How: Leave forearms on the floor as you lift your shoulders off the mat and extend/arch your upper back.
Why: Strengthens your scapula stabilisers and spinal extensors/stabilisers.
How: Lying on your front, draw your shoulder blades towards each other then hover shoulders just off the mat, hold for 3-10 seconds, depending on endurance and then lower. Maintain length through your neck and keep looking straight down at the mat. Repeat 6-8 times.
5. Wall press
Why: This exercise is great for shoulder stability.
How: Standing with hands on the wall in line with your shoulders. Focus on stabilising the shoulder blades on the back of the ribcage, retracting them slightly throughout the press phase. To increase load step further away from the wall.
6. Rows with a theraband
Why: This exercise strengthens the shoulder girdle and scapula (shoulder blade) stabilisers.
How: Focus on drawing your shoulder blades towards your spine as you pull the elbows back. Keep your back straight and don’t forget a gentle core engagement throughout.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at Art Of Pilates, Neutral Bay.