Sitting at a desk for 8+ hours can be a detriment to your well-being, creativity and productivity. The typical office worker in America spends more time sitting than sleeping every day! Research has proven that sitting too long increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer and depression. So we invited Bodywork Expert and Licensed Massage Therapist Rachel Hardy to visit the Parachute headquarters and lead the team in a group wellness session. Her tips and tricks for combatting the negative effects of office life on our bodies were extremely helpful and surprisingly easy to apply. Simply remember the acronym “PHAB” – it just may change your life.
P is for Posture
If you’re anything like most of us at Parachute, you’re guilty of hunching over your computer screen. While you may consider purchasing a wearable posture trainer (think Lumo Lyft), you can also do a few stretches in the office and at home to target your fascia and help improve your posture. Fascia is the connective tissue that surrounds your muscles and organs, and it often gets neglected in our normal stretching and workout routines. When the fascia tenses up, it affects our posture.
At home, pick up an inexpensive, clean tennis ball for sustained, minor pressure to the fascia. Isolate a spot that needs attention and use the ball to put gentle pressure on the area for three minutes at a time. For example, unroll your yoga mat, put the ball on the floor and recline with the ball targeting your tense spot. Then let gravity do its work! You may also consider purchasing a Thera Cane – a self-massager designed for applying deep compression.
At the office, stretch your fascia and pectoral muscles (aka your chest muscles) – a tight chest is the number one culprit for causing that slouch. Stand next to a wall and extend your arm along it. Rotate your body away until you feel light resistance. Hold this pose for a minimum of 30 seconds, but preferably three minutes. Repeat on the opposite side.
H is for Hydration
This one comes as no surprise, but you need to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! And no, your three cups of coffee this morning didn’t count. Not only is hydration essential for your body to function, it also helps contribute to your cognitive performance, elevates your mood and aids in weight loss or regulation. Keep a reusable water bottle by your desk at all times to eliminate any excuses and add a lemon slice if you need a little boost of flavor.
A is for Awareness
It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle of the daily grind and forget your mid-day stretching or that your body is asking for water. Develop these new habits with a simple practice. Set an alarm every hour during the work day for a quick 30 second body scan and breathing exercise. Simply check in with your body to notice any areas of tension or if it’s telling you something you need. If you identify an area of tension, send breath to the area to consciously release and relax it. You may be familiar with this practice if you’ve attended a yoga class. Listen to your body – it may be telling you it needs a walk, stretch or glass of water. In no time, this hourly check-in will become an instinctive part of your daily routine. You may not even need your alarm!
B is for Breath
It happens to the best of us – a fire drill comes up at work and your heart rate starts rising. But unchecked stress contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease. So before tackling the mini-mergency, try this breathing exercise to minimize stress. Simply inhale, hold the breath, exhale and hold the breath for five seconds each. Do three rounds of this, and you’ll be ready to approach the situation in a calm and productive manner.
Every day we develop new patterns – good or bad – that affect our well-being. Start using “PHAB” to make small, incremental changes that will have a big impact on your body’s health.