If you sit at a desk most of the day, tightness in your back is a familiar feeling. In the lower back, especially, pain can settle in and become a regular nuisance. Certified yoga teacher Diana Zotos Florio sees a lot of clients with lower back pain, and she says what's happening in the upper back may be the real culprit.
"One of the most common causes [of lower back pain] is tightness in the upper back," she says.
It begins outside the office, Zotos Florio says, and then migrates to lower back as you settle into your desk chair.
"Think about checking your blind spot or reaching around your kitchen for ingredients," Zotos Florio says. "That twisting motion happens from your upper back. If you sit for a long period of time or have poor posture, that makes your upper back get tight, moving the twist into the lower back, which causes the pain."
To help alleviate this back pain, Zotos Florio uses a move called the thoracic rotation stretch. Not only is it a powerful move, but it's also something you can do right at your desk -- without looking awkward. Here's how it works:
Sit in your chair with your feet flat on the floor. You want to sit with your pelvis in a neutral position, so to find this pose, place your hands on your hips and rock back into a slumped position; then, rock forward into an arched position. Now, settle into the middle, onto your "sit bones," Zotos Florio instructs.
It should look like this:
Make sure you have even weight under both hip bones. Then, cross your hands across your chest. Twist your spine all the way to one side and then hold for two to three breaths.
Return to center and repeat the twist on the other side.
"If you sit for a long period of time during the day, try to practice this exercise once per hour," Zotos Florio says.
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