As travelling speakers there is a lot of sitting going on before we spring up on stage to do our thing. Between driving to the airport, waiting at the airport, sitting on the plane, all the way to sitting at the head table with the client as we’re being introduced, our back, butt, belly and legs aren’t doing the movement they are designed to do…and it’s hurting our health. Compressed spine, shallow breathing, tight muscles and weak core strength can all zap our much needed energy to do what we do.
It is my job as a motivational speaker on Health and Wellness to help my fellow speaker friends avoid the ill effects of too much sitting. Here are six very effective exercises we can do while we’re sitting around…and no one will know!
1. Pelvic Tilt / Abdominal Tuck I always cue this one in class by saying: “Tuck your tail between your legs.” Pull your belly button in towards your spine and flatten your lower back against the back of the chair. This immediately relieves compression of the lower vertebrate and engages the transverse abdominals (lower belly).
2. Stack Your Vertebrate Like Oreo Cookies (hey, visuals work) Anyone else have their mother’s voice ringing in their heads? “Stand up straight!” Not only does this relieve spinal compression but it also grows you an inch, reduces the belly pooch and allows for deeper breathing!
3. Giraffe Neck/Chin Tuck Desk jobs, phone texting, reading and all the other hunched over tasks we do have created over-stretched upper back and neck muscles and tightened chest and anterior deltoid muscles (just thought I’d throw that in there to test your anatomy skills). Who here wants to form an early onset Dowager’s Hump? Not me!! Lift your chest up, pull your shoulders back, press them down away from your ears and tuck your chin in. Now tilt your head side to side to loosen those tight neck muscles. And breathe! Bonus: This allows for deeper breathing which translates to reduced stress.
4. Butt Cheek Squeeze Whether yours are bodacious or flat, they’re still the largest muscle of the body and they evolved to keep us moving so let’s keep them moving even when we’re sitting. Here’s how: First, get this age-old cheer going in your head: “Lean to the Left, Lean to the Right, Stand Up, Sit Down, Fight Fight Fight!” Now squeeze your Right butt cheek, release. Squeeze your Left butt cheek, release. Squeeze both at the same time, release. Clap 3 times. Put them both together and you’ve got your very own cheering section on the plane. Besides, it will give the passengers behind you something to wonder about as they see your head bopping around.
5. Hamstring Stretch I call it the Old Man Shuffle. You’ve seen him. Bent over, shuffling his feet barely stepping one foot out in front of the other. TIGHT HAMSTRINGS AND HIP FLEXORS! Not stretching, even a little, everytime we get up from a seated position is training our muscles to tighten and shorten so that over time we end up losing range of motion until we can’t take a nice, long, easy stride! Steeeeretch!!!
6. Foot Massage Unhappy feet equals unhappy person. I’m sure all of us have the routine of packing our comfy shoes to change into after wowing them on stage with our fabulous heels but our poor little footies need more love than that. In addition to the good ol’ knuckle rub on the bottom of the foot, add the “This little piggy” toe spread: stretch each toe back and forth and apart. Rotate at the ankle. Sit back on your heels with the toes tucked under. Yow! Our feet stiffen up over time just like all our other muscles. Don’t leave them out of your stretch routine!
So now you don’t have to “Get Up Offa That Thing” to keep your body tall, toned, flexible and energized. We can all become members of that 100 Mile Fitness Club!