Sitting in front of a computer is an everyday thing for many of us who work an office job. While it’s seemingly an easier way to earn your paycheck than working a highly physical job, a sedentary lifestyle can wreak havoc on your body. Lack of movement during your day can affect everything from your head to your feet and cause tightness and pain in neck, shoulders, back, hips and glutes. However, sitting long hours doesn’t have to be that painful. Here are some of the best stretches you can do to reduce pain and boost productivity.
If you spend the majority of your day hunched forward, you have to stretch your chest and your shoulders. Start from a standing position and interlace your fingers behind your back. Straighten the arms and gently lift them a few inches until you feel the stretch in your chest. Hold the position for 10 to 30 seconds and release. You can also grab a doorway, put your hands on either side of the frame and push forward until you feel the stretch.
Your shoulders and neck hold a lot of stress from sitting, especially if you don’t have an ideal ergonomic setup (most of us don’t). Even if you try to keep your back straight while you work, you’re probably more hunched than you even realize. But, you can get some blood flowing through your trapezoids and shoulder muscles with some easy shrugs. You can do this seated or standing up, just lift your shoulders to your ears, hold for a few seconds and relax. Repeat 8 to 10 times and this move will just feel like a breath of fresh air after a long typing session.
This is a great stretching exercise for opening up your hips. It’s a bit similar to lunges, but unlike that dynamic stretching exercise, hip stretches are static—there’s a difference between dynamic and static stretching even though both are great for getting rid of stiffness and preventing injury. Start your hip stretches by kneeling. Put your left foot on the floor and scoot it a little forward until you feel a stretch in your calf and Achilles. You should be in a position that looks like a kneeling lunge. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds and switch legs. This will create a lot of space in your hips and release a lot of tension from sitting.
You might think that your neck isn’t tight, but just wait until you try this next exercise. Sit straight in your chair, grab the right side of your chair with your right hand, tilt your head to the left and pull (both with your hand and your neck) until you feel stretching thought your neck and shoulder. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds and switch sides. You should feel much more relaxed after this exercise. People usually hold a lot of tension in the neck that can lead to headaches, neck stiffness and back tension.
This body part is often neglected, especially when it comes to stretching. However, when you spend half of your day typing and clicking, your forearms and wrists can get really tight. So, in order to get some of that tightness away from your hands, you can stretch your right arm out so that your palm is pointed down. Use your left hand to pull your fingers up and towards your chest until you feel a stretch in your forearm. Repeat on the left hand and you’ll give your forearms and wrists a nice stretch.
Sitting has a huge negative effect on the lower back, leaving it stiff and painful. So, get some of that tension out with a good spinal twist. Stay seated and place your feet on the ground. Slowly rotate your torso on the right, together with your head and shoulders. In order to deepen the stretch, use your hands to pull (but be moderate in order to avoid pulling a muscle). You might feel some cracks which will feel very satisfying, but don’t force anything.
No matter how much you try to keep your back straight, you might catch yourself sinking forward and hunching your back which can cause a lot of pain and discomfort. So, in order to fix some of the damage, you need to stretch your torso. Start from the standing position and lift your hands straight towards the ceiling. Take a deep breath as you put your hands up and as you exhale, sweep your hands open and down, bending forward and relaxing your back. This will stretch all the muscles in your lower and upper back, relax your neck, sides and arms.
Most of these stretches can be done anywhere, but you can also practice them after you come home after a long day. They will definitely make you feel less stiff and help ban some of that pain and tension you’ve been harbouring.