Workplace Wellness: Stretch it out at your desk

August 20, 2015

Whether it is a long business trip in the car, your body parked on an airplane for hours, or a meeting lasting ALL DAY, our poor bodies stay seated, hunched and cramped up for way too long on any given work day. The side effects of our working positions are often low back pain from tight hip flexors, neck and shoulder pain that can easily create chronic headaches and other pain throughout the body, as well as overall decreased energy in our systems.

To combat these ailments, here are some stretches to address the hips, low back, neck and shoulders to keep our posture the best it can be. These simple desk stretches will also start to stretch the tight muscles associated with prolonged sitting. You can do these stretches and movements right in your chair, standing in your office, at an airport terminal, or in a break room down the hall from the long meeting! If someone “catches you” doing these stretches invite them to join you! Movement for our bodies is soooo good and will actually increase our productivity, increase blood flow and energy as well as decrease stress and improve our mood! Set a time throughout the day and try and do these 3 times a day. At the same time you can drink some water...you will start feeling better in no time at all!

Seated Exercises:IMG_5001
1. Forward Fold/Drape: While seated place feet wider than hips and gently leanforward. Relax through entire back, neck and allow head to be heavy. Hold for 5 in hale and exhale breath cycles. Stretches: entire back, hips, hamstrings
2. Neck Stretch: Gently tip your neck to one side while keeping your gaze straight forward. Carefully add pressure and reach finger tips of opposite arm down towards the ground. Stretches: neck, shoulders
3. Spinal Twist: Sit tall with feet together and planted flat on the floor. Place one hand over your thigh and assist yourself as you look over your shoulder and twist your body. Breath 5 breath cycles and then complete the twist in the other direction. Stretches: Low, middle and upper back, shoulders, hips
4. Seated Figure 4: Sit tall in your chair, and bring one ankle up to your thigh, keeping your foot flexed. Lengthen forward from your waist for an extra stretch if needed. Stretches: hips and glutes
5. and 6. Big Breathing: On an inhale reach up to the sky, on your exhale open the arms wide and stretch the chest. Repeat 5-10 times. This can also be completed standing. Try to breath into your diaphragm which will have your abdominals expanding out on an inhale and then lowering down on an exhale. Read more about diaphragmatic breathing here.

Standing Images:IMG_5002
1. Marching In Place: One thing that happens when we remain seated all day is that the blood flow throughout our body slows down, because we are not moving. Stand up and march in place, or jog if you can! Proper circulation of our blood throughout our bodies is extremely important, so get moving!
2 and 3. Shoulder Rolls: Inhale as you shrug the shoulders up towards your ears. Exhale as you drop them down and back pinching the shoulder blades together and lifting your chest towards the sky. Stretches: Chest, shoulders, some neck
4.Wall Chest Opener: Place your hand on a wall or vertical column. Walk forward a bit and look away from your arm. Stretches: Chest, spine
5. Standing Side Bend: Place feet a bit wider than hip distance. Inhale reach up, exhale lean over. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat on other side and complete this 10 times. Stretches: Back, hips, lats
6. Hip Flexor Stretch: Short and tight hip flexors are one of the most common side effects of the seated desk position, and one that commonly leads to low back pain. If you have low back pain, you might also have short, tight hip flexors contributing to this. Stretching these muscles out while strengthening your glutes as shown in Hip Neutral can really help your low back pain! Step back with one leg and reach up and over with that same arm. Gently engage the glutes to keep hips tucked under. Make sure you are not arching from your low back to complete this stretch. Your back heel can be lifted. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on other side. Repeat 4 times on each side. Stretches: Hips, some low back