You’re sitting at your desk deep in your work when you start to notice a tight pain crawling up the back of your neck. You rub the muscle out, maybe pop an Advil but the problem doesn’t seem to go away. Now what?
Based on 47 studies developed by the Annals of Internal Medicine, sitting for long periods of time can dramatically increase health problems. These simple stretches loosen the muscles and give your body the movement it needs. By doing these stretches for 5 minutes every hour you can avoid serious problems or injuries such as; loss in posture, lower/upper back pain, and headaches.
1. Shoulder rolls
Close your eyes and take deep breaths through your nose and out of your mouth, as you slowly roll your shoulders forward for ten seconds. Repeat the same motion, but going in the opposite direction. By doing this motion, you are releasing the tension in your upper back, shoulders and neck, thus reducing the risk of headaches.
2. Eagle Twist
Bring your arms directly in front and create and 90 degree angle by bending your elbows. Bring your arms together and twist your forearms. This stretches out your shoulder muscles and eliminates upper back pain while also enforcing posture. For a more complex pose, stand and cross your left leg over your right leg, while balancing on your right leg. Hold this for 10 seconds. Release both arms and legs and do the same position on the opposite side.
3. Forward Bend
A forward bend is a great way to stretch your back muscles. Start by sitting in your chair with a straight back. Use a sturdy surface, such as your desk or a ball, to support you as you bend forward with your arms stretched out in front. For a deeper stretch, straighten out your legs while seated. Bend further to reach your toes while aiming to bring your belly to your legs. However, you want to avoid arching your back. If you cannot reach your toes try grabbing onto your shins. Remember to breathe through the stretch by inhaling through you nose and out of your mouth.
4. Seated Hip Stretch
This stretch is great for when your buttock muscles start to fall asleep due to long periods of sitting. Keep your left foot flat on the ground and bring your right ankle up to rest above your left knee. This is going to create a 90 degree angle in your right leg. You should feel a stretch in your right hip. Repeat the same stretch on the opposite sides.
5. Spinal Twist
In this stretch, keep your feet flat on the floor and your back straight as you rotate your body toward one side. Hold the position and repeat on the other side. The basic spinal twist stretches your lower and upper back. It improves posture and reduces pain from sitting for long periods of time.
6. Calf Raises
Calf raises are best achieved while standing. If needed, find balance by holding onto a wall or sturdy surface while you lift your heels while maintaining a straight leg. This not only strengthens your leg muscles, but increases blood flow and allows for a more productive day.
7. And lastly, or as an alternative, watch this video for a 7 minute desk yoga flow.