Many people, without realizing, spend most of the day slouching over desks and sitting on the couch,
which can lead to back pain, neck pain, headaches, and weakened core muscles.
By taking just a few minutes each seated hour or two to do the following
exercises, you can reap the benefits of better posture, improved circulation,
and clearer mental functions. Remember to breathe long and deep while in each
stretch, the belly expanding with each breath in, and shrinking toward the
spine with each exhale. This “belly breathing” not only provides better oxygen
flow to the brain, thus improving circulation and thought processes, but
contributes to stress release and many other positive effects. These 5 simple
stretches will give you the mid-day refreshment you need to feel your best!
1. Chest stretch. Place both hands on the
back of your head, elbows outward, and interlock your fingers. Make sure your
back is straight, pelvis rocked forward, and that your shoulders are relaxed
downward, not shrugging up towards
your ears. The goal is to bring your elbows back as much as possible, bringing
your shoulder blades closer together. Hold for 3-5 breaths.
2. Spinal twist. This one is great for
wrist and lower back tightness, and to stretch your sides. Sit sideways on the
right side of the chair. Put your right arm up in the air, making sure your
back is straight, and swing the right arm to the back of the chair on the
opposite side. Be sure to breathe long and deeply in this pose; sitting up
straight will give the rib cage more room and makes the breath easier. Hold
this pose for a 3-5 breaths and then switch to the left side.
3. Neck stretch. Tuck your chin forward to
touch your chest and enjoy the stretch in the back of your neck for 3-4
breaths. Make sure to keep your back flat to keep the spine aligned. Slowly
swing your chin down and to the left, looking at your left shoulder, and hold
for 3 breaths. From the left swing right and look at your right shoulder,
holding for another 3 breaths. Repeat this cycle once more with one long breath
4. Arm and shoulder stretch. Hold your
right elbow with your left hand across the front of your chest and gently pull
to stretch the shoulder. Hold for 3-5 breaths and switch to the left. Next,
interlock your hands behind your back, shoulders relaxed down, back straight,
and palms facing toward your lower back. Gently pull back, expanding the chest
and stretching the shoulders. Hold for 3-5 breaths and slowly release.
5. Leg stretch. Place the left foot flat on the ground, and put the right
leg out straight; imagine your toes stretching up and back toward your
forehead. Draw yourself upward, back straight, and, leading with the pelvis, lean
forward. Keeping the back flat is crucial to feeling the best stretch in the
back of the leg. It helps to sit as far forward on the chair as possible. Hold
for 4-5 breaths and switch to the left leg. Repeat on both legs for 3 breaths.
place the left foot flat on the ground and hug your right knee into your chest
for 3-5 breaths. Make sure to keep the back straight. Repeat on the left leg.
1. Elise Miller & Carol Blackman. Yoga
Journal, “http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/231.” Accessed February
4, 2014. <a href=”http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/231.
Katherine. Huffington Post, “Stretches All Desk Workers Should Do
Today.” Last modified June 14, 2013. Accessed February 2, 2014.
Melanie. Work Awesome, “Desk Fitness: A Series of 11 Simple
Stretches.” Last modified April 1, 2013. Accessed February 3, 2014.
Powerful Word, “18 Benefits of Deep Breathing and How to Breathe
Deeply.” Accessed February 4, 2014. http://www.onepowerfulword.com/2010/10/18-benefits-of-deep-breathing-and-how.html.