Studies keep telling us about the negative effects of sitting all day. This isn't good news if you're a desk worker, but there are a lot of ways you can exercise enough to get the blood flowing to your limbs as well as releasing tension in your muscles.
If you want a great stretching routine without even having to leave your chair, look no further!
Desk workers are notorious for neck and shoulder pain due to lots of tension building up. Correct your posture by engaging your core muscles (abs and back). Tilt your neck to one side and use your hand to carefully pull your head into the stretch. Don't push hard; remember that your hand is only there to help guide the stretch.
You can stretch your arm muscles, neck, and shoulders at the same time! While at your desk facing forward, lift up one arm, bend the elbow, and reach behind your head towards the centre of your back. Push down on the elbow gently with the other hand, but not too hard. You don't want to wrench your shoulder sockets.
Cat/Cow Back Stretch
This move does a lot more than undulating the spine "“ it activates the back muscles and decompresses the disks so you can avoid (over time) fusing the vertebrae together. Ouch! The Cat/Cow yoga exercise is modified here so you can do it in your chair. Push your belly forward and lift the chest and neck to allow the spine to curve (Cow). Move straight into Cat by arching your back, bringing your chin down, and tucking your belly button in.
IT Band Stretch
Believe it or not, this is one of the best stretches for you. Sedentary workers build up a lot of tension in the glutes and hip flexors, and this is the perfect way to relieve both. Sit on your chair with feet on the ground to start. Bring one leg up and cross it over the opposite knee. Lean forward if you don't feel the stretch. Important: make sure you flex your foot to protect your knee.
For sedentary workers, back, hip, shoulder, and neck problems tend to stand out so much that we forget about how much tension we carry in our forearms and wrists. Once you do this stretch, you'll find out. Sit straight and reach out one arm. Bend the all the fingers on your hand back gently towards you. Don't force it. As soon as you feel the stretch, don't pull any further.
Shift your body towards the edge of your chair, place your feet on the ground hip-distance apart, and lengthen your spine. Reach both arms behind you and grab opposite hands. A bit of spine "cracking" is normal. If you can't interlace your fingers, just reach back as far as you can. Hold for 25-30 seconds.
Sit squarely in your chair with your feet shoulder width apart. Lengthen your spine by sitting up straight and tall, and rotate your upper body towards the back of the chair while keeping your feet planted firmly. Hold for 20 seconds or until you start to feel discomfort. Repeat on the other side.
Begin in a seated position with your spine long and straight and your hips squarely positioned. Reach above your head with a slightly bent arm and tilt gently sideways while pulling on the extended arm with the opposite hand. Hold for a few seconds. This stretch is a perfect "wake up call" for your body.
Are you a desk worker? Share with your co-workers!