When I first started using a standing desk, fatigue and pain prevented me from standing as much as I had hoped.
I wondered if there was something I was doing wrong, or how I could improve my standing. Then I found just the thing: Foundation Training exercises.
With just a simple movement routine, I was able to stand better and therefore, with less pain and fatigue. I’ll summarize my top 3 favorite exercises for standing desks below with a video link.
Why Do I Need to Work to Stand Better?
We hear so often that sitting is bad for us, but those negative effects don’t just disappear when we stand. Sitting causes some lasting damage that needs to be addressed before you can stand the right way.
Sitting for prolonged periods can weaken the prime movers of your hips and low back, which are vital for healthy standing and athletic postures.
I’m talking about the posterior chain muscles. In plain english, these are the low back extensors, buttocks, and hamstring muscles. These muscles are severely underused when sitting, resulting in people actually forgetting how to properly bend at the hips. Sitting, back pain, lack of exercise, sound familiar?
Good standing (squatting, bending, and running) requires strong, active, posterior chain muscles, so learning to use them correctly is critical.
So How Do I Stand Better?
Foundation Training, an exercise technique I recommend for my clients with back pain, strengthens these exact muscles. It also teaches the body to properly move at the hips. I quickly integrated this technique into my standing routine and notice some immediate benefits.
First off, I felt my glutes, for the first time outside of the gym. Now I feel how these large muscles support me as I stand and walk. Every time I bend to pick up my messenger bag, I catch myself and insert the foundation training hip hinge.
Some secondary benefits included a reset of my concentration, and a feeling of improved creativity (these I suppose resulted simply from exercising at my desk).
The best part? It only took 60 seconds to integrate into my standing work life, with no extra equipment. It’s simply part of a quick work break, that helps reduce pain and fatigue. Here are my favorite 3 exercises for new standers:
- The Founder: This is the basic foundation exercise. It focuses on teaching the body how to hinge at the hips rather than the intricate low-back. After doing a few of these I realized how much I had neglected my these muscles with years of sitting.
- The Lunge Stretch: This is a great way to open up each hip individually and counteract the slouching so inherent with sitting. Did you even realize you may be slouching as you stand?
- The Wide Founder: This adds some more complexity, but the benefits are worth it. Use the inside of your legs (adductor muscles) to help stabilize and decompress your spine, while strengthening the low back.
Just give these exercises a run through on the video below and I swear you’ll be sore the next day, but in a good way. You’ll be using muscles you’ve long forgotten, and in ways that reinforce good movement habits all day long.
After a couple weeks of practicing these exercises you’ll naturally assume good posture.
Pretty awesome for just 60 seconds of easy work per day!
So give ‘em a shot – no excuses. And let us know how they work for you in the comments.