Looking for some simple stretches to do at work? Sitting and not moving for long periods of time is one of the worst things you can do for your body and health. Many people that come into the gym or clinic work at desks all day long ranging. This includes everyone from seniors to students. Most of these clients complain of low back pain, neck pain, and shoulder pain. These aches and pains can arise from the postural positions while sitting at your desk, the way you answer the phone, or just the fact that you are sitting down for long periods of time with no break in-between. Our bodies where meant to move! Keep reading to learn about some easy stretches to keep you moving, feeling more energized, and reducing the likelihood of injury and pain.
Most people lead busy lives in and out of work. There is an easy solution to help and it only takes 10-15 minutes. You can begin with a quick walk around your office or a couple flights of stairs before heading back to your desk to do a few stretches outlined below.
While this stretch is typically done on all fours, you don’t have to be on the ground to lengthen and contract your muscles. Perform a modified version of the same gentle, spine-stretching sequence from your desk to help ease your body back into proper posture.
- Shift your weight down towards the edge of your chair so that your back isn’t resting or being propped up by the back of the chair.
- With your hands resting on your knees, inhale and hinge slightly forward allowing a small arch in your lower back. This is cow pose.
- On your exhale, round your spine and tuck your chin into your chest. This is cat pose.
- Flow between those two poses, pressing your chest out and arching your back dramatically for the “cat” pose, and then breathing out and pulling your belly button in towards your spine as you arch your back into “cow.”
- Complete 8-10 of each
Help relieve neck and shoulder pain with this desk-friendly modification.
- Sit up straight with your hands resting on your thighs.
- With your head tilted back and gaze towards the ceiling, rotate your head clockwise.
- Continue until you’ve made a full rotation, dropping your chin to your chest at the halfway point.
- Repeat counter clockwise. That’s one rep.
- Repeat 10 times.
Seated Spinal Rotation
This seated mobility drill targets the mid-back.
- While seated, cross your arms over your chest
- Plant your feet strongly into the floor to avoid lower body movement
- Grab opposite shoulders
- Rotate your upper body from the waist, turning gently from left to right as you can.
- Avoid flexing the body, try to imagine you have a string on top of your head pulling your body towards the ceiling
- You will feel a tension in your lower back as you rotate, do not force the stretch, gently add range of motion with each rotation.
- Try to rotate 10 times on each side.
Hip Flexor Stretch
This stretch conveniently uses your office chair while targets your hip flexors and quads.
- While standing, keeping your foot on top of the seat of the chair.
- Shift forward onto your standing leg while bringing your hip forward as well and dropping the knee to the ground.
- Pull your hip forwards as much as you can to feel a greater stretch.
- If this stretch is too challenging, try the same stretch with your foot on the ground instead of the chair and drop into a ½ kneeling position.
- Hold for 30-45 seconds on each side.
Seated Pigeon Stretch
A variation of the standing pigeon stretch, this targets the glutes and piriformis.
- While sitting, bring ankle up onto the opposite knee.
- Lean forward while keeping the back straight
- Push down on the knee to gain more of a stretch.
- Hold for 30-45 seconds on each side.
If you are serious about maximizing your work day try this routine. It is important that you get up from your desk every hour if possible. These movements will help you improve your flexibility, help you re-focus, improve energy and confidence, and reduce the common pain associated with sitting. If this isn’t enough motivation for you, it will also help you improve your productivity!
Written by: Cory Garner, Kinesiologist, Personal Trainer & Fitness Instructor