Being stuck in an office is taxing on the body. Inactivity and increased stress can lead to tense and achy joints and muscles. Stretching is a great way to maintain muscle length, increase blood flow to your muscles, help joint mobility and make you feel better.
Here are my top five stretches I give to all of my office worker patients and friends.
Lower back mobility exercise
This is fantastic for someone who sits for the majority of the day. Your lower spine is compressed and depending on your posture at your desk, sometimes out of alignment. Any time there is an imbalance, or joint dysfunction, your muscles tighten to protect the underlying joints. This exercise is simple but very effective.
Lie on your back on the floor. With your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Gently rock your knees from side to side. Small movements, not all of the way over as we want to localise it to the lower spine. Think small controlled rocking side to side for two minutes. Repeat morning and night.
When you sit for prolonged amounts of time, your muscles tighten. Especially your buttock muscles. Because they cross the lower back, hips and pelvis, the gluteal muscles are one of the major muscle groups that get really tight and are responsible for adding load and tension to the lower back. Stretch these and you will take pressure off your achy lower back.
Lie on your back. Pull one knee up with your hands into your chest. Pull it up towards your opposite shoulder until you feel a stretch in your buttock region. Hold for 30 seconds. Swap sides. Repeat on each side, morning and night.
A tight neck can be responsible for tension that radiates up into your head, causes headaches and pain behind the eyes. Loosening your neck muscles will help. It is super easy and can be done sitting at your desk without looking too out of place!
Sitting up straight, use your right hand to come over and grab the top of your head and pull over towards your right shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds. You should feel a pull on the left side of your neck. From this position, move your head and look towards your armpit, and pull head down in this direction. The stretch should move to the back of your neck. Hold stretch for 30 seconds. Swap sides and then repeat throughout the day.
Being at a desk all day, hunched over a computer, our chest muscles become tight, they shorten and they pull the head and neck forward, adding more strain to those joints. Stretching out the front and opening up the chest will do wonders for your posture and your neck.
Stand in a corner or a doorway. Put your arms at shoulder height at a 90 degree angle, and your forearms flat on the wall. Your elbows should be level with your shoulders. Lean forward into the corner or doorway and feel a stretch through your pectoral muscles and chest. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat throughout the day. It feels fantastic!
Rolled up towel exercise
This exercise is focused at your upper spine. It is a really good way to open up and improve posture.
Roll up a towel and place it on the floor. Make sure it is vertical and place a pillow at the top of the towel. Lie on the towel so it runs up the middle of your spine with your head resting on the pillow. Lie there for 10-15 minutes. If you have a long heat pack, you can use this instead of the towel. The heat will help the muscles relax and the pack will act like a fulcrum to open up the upper back and improve posture! If you watch TV at night, this is the perfect exercise for you to do in front the TV. No excuses!