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Sitting At Your Desk: Try This Technique To Improve Your Posture

It reduces muscle pain and makes you slimmer and more toned.

14/06/2017 7:28 PM AEST | Updated 14/06/2017 8:35 PM AEST

Are you sitting at your desk right now reading this? Or maybe you're on a bus or at a cafe on your phone. Are your shoulders slumped over? And how's your neck? We are willing to bet your current posture isn't all that great.

We all know by now that sitting is the new smoking, but it's not like we can all quit our office jobs or convince our boss to fork out for standing desks.

The answer is better posture (did you sit up straight when you read that?), and there's a biomechanical pioneer who wants to help you tone and strengthen your body, become slimmer and reduce muscle pain through correcting your posture.

"The body has 639 muscles and 400 of these are 'invisible muscles' hidden away in your body -- your critical muscles," Dell-Maree Day, founder of The Invisible Exercise told HuffPost Australia.

"Their job is to place every bone in your body perfectly, all day. Many people think that sucking your tummy muscles in, and trying to sit or stand bolt upright all day is the best way to correct your posture, but it's not. Your invisible muscles are subconscious muscles so if you try to squeeze your abs, or try to sit straight, you won't have any success activating them."

"Invisible muscles have a 'memory', and the best way to work with them is to trigger their memory. This is can be done when you are still -- either at your desk, or standing in a line at the bus stop or in a quiet moment. To other people it won't look like you're doing much, but in fact you are. Once you trigger their memory they resume working for you all day as a team in the correct positions," Day said.

Day is a biomechanics and posture expert. She's a former pilates instructor with a diploma in clinical pilates who was a founding member of the Australian Pilates Method Association. Day developed her exercise rehabilitation program, The Invisible Exercise, based on the principles and practices of the Pilates Method and its core stability model. After working with clients referred to her by osteopaths, physiotherapists and chiropractors, she adapted her program into an online tutorial course.

Basically, her program shows you how to use all the 639 muscles inside your body correctly to achieve muscle balance. It takes you through 10 different 'postures' that will realign your body. These are then rotated throughout the week as you do 20 minutes of the program each day.

"The best example of an invisible muscle is your master breathing muscle. It wraps into either side of the lumbar spine and is called transversus abdominus. This is the deepest abdominal muscle and is one of the longest muscles in the body arising at the base of the sternum and inserting into the pubic bone. Triggering the muscle memory of this muscle you will feel your abs flatten and narrow," Day said.

"When this muscle is working correctly it underpins every single moment of every day, naturally narrowing and defining your waist. Once this muscle fires first, your body then fires the other muscles of breathing like a domino chain."

"There are more than 200 hundred muscles in your breathing chain. These muscles define your body shape from your hips up. By correctly working them, you will achieve flatter, stronger abs, improve your entire posture, and oxygenate your entire body so your mood and thinking improve," Day said.

Though having the correct posture isn't as easy as just sitting up straight.

"The biggest mistake I see people make is when they think they have to hold themselves upright and straight, they suck their tummy muscles in or pull their shoulders back and down. And then they try to maintain this all day while they work. This is an over-correction of their posture and often leads to more aches and pains and other health issues."

"Another common problem is people pushing back into their chair with their feet tucked in under the chair. This causes a bracing, or holding, of dominant muscles which ultimately may cause more discomfort," Day said.

These postures will activate each and every one of your body's muscles so you will breathe, sit, stand, move and exercise better, transforming your posture and body shape naturally.

Instead, give this a go.

"To begin move away from the back of your chair to sit on the front half of the chair. Place the feet flat on the floor directly under the knees with a fist sized space between the feet and knees," Day said.

"Look straight ahead and sit as tall and relaxed as possible, especially your arms. You will now feel how the natural curves of your spine have been restored. At this point you should be looking at the top third of your computer screen."

"Staying tall and relaxed lets your body breathe in, and as the body breathes out think 'sternum through towards your spine'. As you think this thought you will feel your master breathing muscle fire to flatten and narrow your waist. That is your deepest abdominal muscle doing its job. This is called The Invisible Breathing Technique which is great to practice when you are sitting down. Your colleagues won't even know what you're up to. Repeat this technique five to six times in a row every hour. Within days you will feel your abs strengthen and your posture will already have improved," Day said.

Days' program covers other corrective postures for standing and laying down, too.

"These postures will activate each and every one of your body's muscles so you will breathe, sit, stand, move and exercise better, transforming your posture and body shape naturally. There are also sessions for pregnancy and rehab so people can enjoy the benefits of the program no matter what their body's going through," Day said.

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