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3 Dynamic Office Chair Yoga Poses To Ease An Achy Low Back, Right At Your Desk

Back pain is the single leading cause of missed work GLOBALLY and over 80% of Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives. It is the number one complaint we hear from our students, and hits office workers especially hard due to the nature of desk work.

Back pain is multifaceted. It could be directly correlated to the mechanics of your spine, like a disk herniation, spinal degeneration, or a muscle strain. Maybe you lifted something you shouldn't have, or pushed too hard in a workout.

Sometimes back pain is less linear. It could be more peripheral, like a weak glute or tight hip flexor. Perhaps there was a surgery or accident that reshaped the connective tissue around an abdominal organ, creating facial tension.

The way you breathe drastically effects your core stability, impacting your posture as you sit, stand, and drive. In my personal experience, proper breathing mechanics were a gateway to lower back health.

Habitual body positions like crossing one leg over the other while sitting, sleeping with one hip hiked up, or shifting your weight into the same standing leg while you wait in line at the grocery store, all add up. While often unintentional, they can create asymmetries and imbalances.

And last but not least, your thoughts, feelings, and emotions add a complexity to back pain that require you to examine your mental health as means to healing. Stress, and your ability to manage it, will certainly impact your path to a pain free living.

If you've ever suffered from low back pain, I see you! It's sneaky. It always shows up to the party uninvited and leaves you feeling frustrated and exhausted. Learning to navigate the ebbs and flows of my own chronic back pain is one of the reasons I became a yoga teacher, and why I'm so passionate about teaching people practical ways to move more at work.

While there are endless approaches to managing back pain, no single approach can possibly be right for everyone. Generally speaking, gentle movement, mindful breathing, and a well rounded approach to healing will guide you in the right direction.

If someone claims to have all the answers or "the only solution" or an "instant fix", I can confidently say that they don't. Pain, especially back pain, requires a more nuanced approach. You need to embody movement and become more sensitive to the present moment. It's physical, mental, and emotional work. It's a gentle process of investigation. That's why yoga and mindfulness are excellent tools to have in your back pain toolbox.

Here are three dynamic yoga poses you can do in about 10 minutes to get you feeling a little better. Follow along with the video above, right at your desk. This mini sequence is all about gentle mobility in the hips and lumbar spine. Be mindful with your movement and intentional with your breath. Here's a quick overview of what each pose is and why it's beneficial.

  1. Seated Pelvic Circles Pelvic circles include a posterior and anterior pelvic tilt, linked to a lateral pelvic tilt, to create a circular motion in the pelvis. It can be a little tricky at first, but stick with it, as the benefits are amazing. This dynamic posture is lovely for improving the mobility of the hips, lumbar spine, and sacrum. The circular motion increases synovial fluid in the joints, lowers inflammation, and improves proprioception of the pelvis. If your lower back aches, befriend your hips!

  2. Rocking Chair Pigeon This posture stretches the outer hip muscles and gently glides the hips through external rotation and abduction. It feels especially lovely when you link the breath to the movement: inhale as you rock forward and exhale as you rock backward. This posture can be done standing also, but the seated version is helpful as the chair provides a reference point for your hips in space.

  3. Dynamic Desk Lunge With Pelvic Tilts Lunges lengthen the front of the hips, which often become short and tight due to too much flexion while sitting. The dynamic movement layered into a lunge is a tool to both increase the feeling of stretch while in a posterior till, but also explore how your pelvis move. The posterior and anterior tilts are usually more accessible than the lateral tilts, but keep practicing. The more body awareness you have of where your hips are in space, the better equipped you'll be to optimize your posture and pelvic alignment - all critical to sustainable low back health.

There ya have it. I hope you love this sequence as much as I do. Ten minutes goes by so quickly, and there is SO much more to say about back pain. Please subscribe to receive our FREE 10-Minute Tune-Up classes, weekly in your inbox. These classes are quick office-friendly chair yoga and meditation breaks to get you moving, breathing, and de-stressed - no change of clothing or equipment needed. We have dozens of Tune-Ups that focus on back pain, just waiting to be watched by YOU! Happy moving. :)

In Gratitude,

Katie Rowe Mitchell

Co-Founder + CMO Unfold and Unfold Digital


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