Think about your posture. If you’re sitting at a computer, odds are you’re slouched a bit with your shoulders hunched over (You also just sat up a little straighter, didn’t you?).
A common issue that people who work from home or spend a lot of time at the computer face is shoulder tension or pain from excessive sitting. Excessive sitting isn’t new to the working-from-home world, however. In fact, the average American sits for 6.5 hours a day.
American mainstream culture centers around seated activities, from gaming, to browsing social media on our phones, to hanging out with friends and watching TV. But why is this position so bad for you, and how can you fix it?
What Happens When You Slouch While Sitting
When you’re hunched over, your shoulder joint rotates forward, internally shortening muscles like your Pectoralis Major and Minor. At the same time, the opposing muscles that control your shoulder blade, like the Rhomboids and the Middle and Lower Trapezius, over-lengthen. Your neck also compensates for the angle by tilting slightly upwards into a position that shortens your Upper Trapezius and Suboccipital muscles while over-lengthening your deep neck flexors.
Translation: Your muscles are strained. Big time.
The muscles in a lengthened position are inhibited and can actually get stuck. When muscles, like the Rhomboids, are stuck like this, they remain underactive and don’t play a role in bringing the shoulders back to a normal resting position.
Muscles in these positions create more tightness and pain, and prevent normal function since your joints won’t move properly. It’s a cycle that feeds into itself, and the only way to break out is to put your shoulders to work.
What to Do About It
The solution to dealing with shoulder pain is to lengthen your muscles that are too short, while activating the muscles that are too long, bringing balance back to your muscle groups.
Beyond simply fixing your posture while you sit, here are five ways to stretch out your shoulders at home. Spend about 30-60 seconds with the vibrating sphere steps, then perform the exercises for two sets of 10-15 reps.
- Use a vibrating sphere across your chest
- Use a vibrating sphere across the inside of your shoulder blades and upper traps
- Side Lying Open-Book Stretch
- Front Raise to Band Pull-Apart
- Cross-Body Overhead Raise