If you are a programmer or work on a computer a lot for your job, you may spend long periods of time in the same seated, hunched, or “flexed” position. Sometimes, you can get so engulfed in solving a problem that, before you know it, you’ve spent two hours hunched over your keyboard coding away. Spending long periods of time like this keeps your shoulders forward, chest muscles flexed, and your upper back muscles stretched in a way that is unnatural for humans. This habit can wreak havoc on your posture, and create slouched, rounded shoulders, but programmer posture exercises can help.
Poor Posture Can Affect More Than You Think
Poor posture has more effects than just aesthetics and neck or back pain. Research has shown that poor posture can also affect:
- Overall Health and Risk of Disease
You can dig into it more in this article about how bad posture affects your health and happiness. It can be difficult to keep an active lifestyle with a job that enables sitting for eight hours a day and maybe going to the gym just isn’t your thing. Luckily, there are some in-home programmer posture exercises you can do in 10 or 15 minutes that can go a long way in helping to improve your posture and maintain a good one.
5 Easy Programmer Posture Exercises for Beginners
Not taking enough breaks throughout the day to get up and move around is one of the mistakes to avoid when working from home and when working at a desk for long hours. A quick set of posture exercises can be a great way to take a break. Keep in mind these will not fix all of your posture issues. But, these programmer posture exercises can help alleviate some of the damage caused by long hours at the desk:
1. Lying Down and Deep Breathing
This is likely one of the easiest programmer posture exercises and can likely double as some meditation time if that is something you want to try. It involves lying down and breathing. It doesn’t get much easier than that!
This posture exercise is designed to stretch your diaphragm and help loosen the upper back, shoulders, and neck. To do this exercise you will need a flat, comfortable surface.
- Lay down flat on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and head relaxed.
- Tuck your pelvis so your lower back is flat on the floor – you want as little space as possible between your lower back and the floor.
- Keeping your throat and mouth open, breathe in as deeply as you can, filling your abdomen.
- Exhale hard out of your mouth until you are completely out of breath (force the air out, you should hear yourself almost wheezing).
- Repeat steps 1-4 two or three times.
- For a more advanced version, place your hands on the floor above your head as far as you comfortably can.
2. Wall Angels
Wall Angels, or scapular wall slides, are a good way to strengthen your back and fix rounded shoulders. This exercise is meant to flatten your shoulders, extend your vertebrae, and work the muscles of your upper back. There are also a few variations you can try. To do this exercise, you need a flat wall to lean against.
Wall Angels Exercise 1:
- Stand with your back flat against the wall.
- Bend your knees to about 20 degrees.
- Keep your lower back flat against the wall – avoid arching.
- Rest the back of your head against the wall and keep your eyes forward and level to the ground.
- Raise your arms to your side at a 90-degree angle to your body with your elbows bent and hands up. Your elbows and the back of your hands should be against the wall.
- Breathe in and slide your hands and elbows up the wall until you feel some tension, breath out, and lower your arms back to 90 degrees.
- Repeat this motion four to five times.
Wall Angels Exercise 2:
- Position yourself as you did in steps 1-4 above.
- Imagine a rod going through the center of your chest and treat this as a turning point.
- While keeping your lower back flat against the wall, tilt your chest, upper back, and arms to one side as if you were rotating on the rod in your chest while sliding against the wall.
- Come back to center and tilt to the opposite side.
- Repeat this motion four to five times per side.
3. Y Raises (“Superman Raises”)
Y Raises, or “Superman Raises”, strengthen your lower trapezius muscles. Your trapezius muscles pull your shoulders backward. Strengthening these muscles can help correct rounded shoulders. To do this exercise, you need a flat surface to lie on.
- Lay down on the floor, flat on your stomach.
- Place your arms above your head to create a ‘Y’ shape with your torso.
- Point your thumbs up.
- Breathe in, raise your arms off the floor, and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
- Pause for a moment and release back down to the floor.
- Repeat this ten times for three sets.
- Try to work toward strengthening your muscles to perform sets of 20 at a time.
Planking is a popular exercise with a ton of variations, and for good reason. You don’t have to go crazy with it unless you want to; a simple forward plank provides plenty of benefits and can also improve your posture. Just make sure to keep a correct form and to work up to longer holds if needed.
- Position yourself like you are doing a pushup.
- You can keep your arms in the elevated pushup position or rest your weight on your forearms.
- Make sure your legs remain straight and your lower back does not sink.
- Keep your neck aligned with your spine and look down at the floor.
- Hold for 30 seconds, or hold for what you can and work up to longer holds over time.
5. High-Knee March
A high-knee march can be helpful in improving your posture while also strengthening your hip flexors and core. After sitting for a while, this standing exercise is also a good way to get your lower body moving a little bit throughout the day.
- Find a flat surface where you can stand comfortably.
- Stand straight and tall with your feet hip-width apart and relax your shoulders (roll them back and down while lifting your chest).
- Bring your forearms up so your elbows are bent at 90 degrees and your hands are extended in front of you, palms down.
- Bring your knees up one at a time to touch your palms in a slow march.
- You can march for a set time or a set number of repetitions for each side.
- Make sure your chest stays open and lifted, core engaged, shoulders relaxed, neck straight, and eyes forward.
- For a more advanced version, you can increase repetitions, add a twist, or increase speed from a march to a jog.
These are just a few posture exercises to get you started. Perform these programmer posture exercises every day, or as many times a week as you can, and you will start to notice more flexibility in your shoulders and upper back. Once again, these exercises are only meant to help alleviate posture damage and are not a complete solution to better posture. Good luck!