“A strong core is often the foundation of a strong body. Building strength in this area will help improve posture and reduce aches and pains brought about by working from home” – says Head of Strength and Conditioning at BLOK Chloe Trigg.
With the new hybrid approach to working life, the majority of us have reduced levels of day to day activity, simply because we’re working from home more. We’re therefore moving less and staying stationary in one position for longer, this can have an impact on your posture and spine.
We spend a lot of time looming over laptops, phones and devices and not enough time correcting the craning neck and sitting position are hips are in for 6hrs+ a day. If you don’t take the time to reverse this by strengthening the opposing muscles to pull your head up, lengthen your hip flexors, and strengthen your core, then your spine will instead succumb and start to give in to the new excessive curve of your body.
However, if you do take the time to strengthen your core and other connecting muscles to help support your spine, then they will instead take the strain of the day-to-day and be able hold your body in a stronger position and for longer.
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How to improve your posture
One way to help combat bad posture and to support your spine when working from home, is to develop a strong core.
According to Chloe Trigg, head of strength and conditioning at BLOK there are numerous reasons and benefits to strengthening your trunk (aka. the core, back, obliques and everything that unites your upper + lower body), and it is more than for the muscular physical appearance. A strong trunk will help you go about everyday tasks with ease, ensure you are sitting at your desk correctly and improve your overall well being.
“A strong core is often the foundation of a strong body. Building strength in this area will help improve posture and reduce aches and pains brought about by working from home more and being less mobile in our day to day lives. A strong core also improves stability, balance and can significantly enhance your training and performance.
The stronger the core, the more weight and impact your body can withstand. For example, your core helps to keep you in an upright and braced position when you squat, the stronger it is then the more weight you can add to your squat and still maintain the same strong, technical position.” says Trigg.
“Core exercises should include much more than just crunches, as these only target one layer of our core and just one direction. Core exercises should be dynamic, challenge your stability and balance as well as hitting every layer to your abs. At BLOK we offer a class called BLOKcore, which is a bespoke strength workout focusing on core strength and lower body training.
In BLOKcore we go below your superficial ‘top layer’ abs [rectus abdominus], and also target the transverse abdominals, the internal and external obliques, your lower back and your posterior chain. All of these muscles together help stabilise your trunk and protect your spine to whatever may be thrown your way.
In the class we focus on natural movement patterns using TRX suspension training and body weight exercises to improve core strength and stabilization across multiple planes of movement, challenging muscles through isometric, load-bearing and high intensity movements.
You will work your core muscles doing exercises such as mountain climbers, pikes and leg raises challenging your body through a large range of motion”, says Trigg.
Exercises to start improving your core strength today:
Outside of BLOKcore classes in studio or on BLOKtv, there are exercises you can practice at home and here are Chloe’s top 5:
As you get stronger and more stable, you can increase time, reps or make the movements more dynamic.
Repeat each exercise for 30 – 60 seconds for 3-5 rounds with 1 minute rest between each round.
On your hands, or elbows, facing the floor. Have your hands/elbows directly underneath or just behind your shoulders so your weight is slightly forward of your hands.
Feet together, squeeze your glutes and pull the belly button into your spine. Push the floor away through your hands, gripping the floor with your fingertips. Think about driving your chest to the ceiling and maintaining a tight body from head to toe.
Resting on one elbow, either with feet stacked on top of each other, feet staggered or your bottom knee resting on the floor for support. Lift your hips off the floor as high as you can whilst looking forward and lifting the other hand to the ceiling. You want to maintain a straight line from your head to ankle, and stack arms over each over.
Lying on your back, drive your belly button and lower back into the floor. Think about lifting your shoulders off of the floor slightly to gain core compression. With hands by your side or under your hips for support; extend your legs just a few inches from the floor, point your toes and squeeze quads together.
Raise your legs up so they’re just over your hips and toes pointing to the ceiling, then slowly lower them down with control. Stop at the point where you feel your lower back will lift from the floor, and repeat. As your core strength increases so will how low you can get your legs to the floor.
On your hands and knees, with hands directly under shoulders and knees under hips, think about tucking your pelvis/tail-bone underneath and pulling your belly button to your spine. From here, with eyes looking down, extend one arm up so the bicep is by your ear. You don’t want to lose the tension and neutral spine you have, be slow and purposefully. If that feels ok, then you can try raising a hand and opposing leg at the same time (i.e. left arm, right leg). Again, don’t lose the neutral spine or let the lumbar drop – go only as far as you can whilst maintaining this tension. SUPER-advanced… have your knees off of the floor the whole time so you’re just on toes..!
Working into your lower back more here, lie on your front and make yourself long, keeping head between biceps and chin tucked. Lift one arm and one leg up, imagining a piece of string pulling on your heel and thumb to lift them to the ceiling. Squeeze through the glutes and lower back, gently lower and change to the other arm + leg. If this feels ok, then try both arms + legs at the same time, adding a pause on every lift and even a big 10second isometric hold at the end of the 30second set.
You can sign up to BLOKcore at BLOK in Shoreditch, Clapton and Manchester, visit the website to book a class or try online at home. For unlimited access to over 60 Live classes each week, plus over 240 On Demand workouts, visit blok-tv.com and start your 14 day free trial.