Work giving you back pain? Here’s how this Miamian is working to improve her posture

We asked New Tropic readers to tell us one wellness goal they’re trying to reach, and then we chose six of them to pair with fitness and wellness experts across the 305 who are helping them achieve those goals.

The catch? Each challenger has to keep us updated on their progress and share all their best tips and advice along the way. Our hope is everyone in our community can learn from the advice experts give our challengers.

So help us in cheering on each of our challengers. Here’s one of those brave Miamians:

Cecelia Smith

Wellness goal: To improve posture and overall mental and physical wellness.

Why she wants to achieve it: “What else is out there that could help remind me to be better about looking away from the computer, getting up and moving around, sitting up straight, so that I don’t just go home and flop into a puddle.”

Her wellness expertAdrian Simo, the owner of Simo Massage Therapy.

Update #1
We asked Cecelia: Does reaching your wellness goal feel impossible to you? Why or why not? What’s the first step you’re taking to try and reach it?

“The first step I’m taking is trying to remember to stretch multiple times a day. No, it doesn’t feel impossible because I know essentially what I need to do, I just need the reminders and mindfulness to actually do it.”

Update #2
We asked Cecelia: What’s one thing you tried to do this week to reach your goal? What did you learn?

“This week has been about self-care for me, and re-shaping my routine to set myself up for a better day. I do either a 20 minute yoga video focused on opening the shoulders and back and waking up the core, or I do some back strengthening exercises with light weight or a band. Nothing crazy! I don’t even break a sweat, and I’m usually in my PJ’s, but it gets my muscles going before I head to work and sit at my desk. I’m also getting better at remembering to do neck stretches and seated twists at work throughout the day. ”

She also shared some links to tips on leg exercises and hip stretches!

Update #3
We asked Cecelia: What’s one valuable piece of advice you’ve received so far from the trainer we’ve paired you with? How have you used that advice?

“I think the piece of information that has stuck with me from Adrian is about stretching methods. That it’s actually better to go into a stretch for about 3 seconds then release and restart 10 times, than to hold one stretched position for 30 seconds. That, and the idea that strengthening and stretching around your areas of pain or discomfort is just as important as focusing on that area. For example, I have pain in my back, but instead of stretching/massaging that specific area, it can help to focus on the muscles around it (core, shoulders, etc.) so that I’m strengthening and stabilizing the entire area. When it comes down to it, everything is connected! Don’t think that you back pain isn’t related to your foot pain or that knot in your shoulder isn’t related to your seated posture, etc.”

Update #4
We asked Cecelia: At any point have you felt like giving up on your goal? Why? How have you encouraged yourself to stick with it?

“Have I ever felt like quitting my job and going to live on a tropical island where desk posture and computer alignment make no difference? Absolutely, yes. However, that day has not yet come, so in order to live as happily as possible (sans cabana boy), I won’t allow myself to give up on my goal. I have encouraged myself to stick with it by creating tools and a support system (massage therapy, gym membership, etc.) to make it as pleasant and easy as possible. Also, by not being too hard on myself. I know my limitations, and I know when I need to do some therapy vs. strengthening. It’s not always gym time! Making time for restorative classes or home sessions is key. If I give myself the room to take a break or switch things up, meeting my goal doesn’t become this tremendous obligation that then seems impossible. I’ll probably have a desk job for a while, and my particular structural won’t go away, so this is a forever goal that I’ll be striving towards the rest of my life. I gotta make it fun!!”

Update #5
We asked Cecelia: What did you learn? Do you feel like you hit your goal? If not, do you plan to keep working at it?

“Going into this challenge, I wasn’t entirely uninformed about posture, how everything is all connected, etc. so I have to admit that I didn’t learn a lot that’s NEW. It was beneficial to have my current knowledge re-enforced, and as I’ve shared before, Adrian’s opinion on brief, repeated stretching vs. long stretch holds was good to have in my bag of tricks.”

“As I’ve shared before, my goal is a forever thing. I certainly have less instances of discomfort and pain while working at my desk, so in that regard, yes! I also feel more well-equipped to overcome periods where I may have more issues because I’m not doing my exercises as much or am more stressed and feeling the effects. I will continue working on my goal FOREVER!!”

We’ll keep updating this page with #realtalk from Cecelia and tips from Adrian. Want to share some advice that’s worked well for you? Leave it in the comments!