Sitting in front of a desk every day can wreak havoc on your body, especially since most of us don’t have the best posture. Hunching the shoulders and slumping in your seat can cause back pain, headaches, tension and tightness in your back, neck and shoulders.
Take A Break
Employ the 20-20 rules, advises Alan Hedge, Ph.D., a professor of ergonomics at Cornell University. Every 20 minutes, stand for 20 seconds and stretch or shake things out. “Just 20 seconds away from your computer screen reduces fatigue and increases blood circulation,” says Hedge. Now you’ll have the power to sit up straight.
The following stretches for office workers target the muscles of the back, neck and shoulders as well as the hips and glutes. Taking time to do some of these stretches throughout the day can help increase flexibility and reduce tension and stress. Every two hours, try to the following series of postural correction moves and rejuvenating stretches that will make tight muscles feel great and improve your oxygen efficiency.
Gently raise your chest toward the ceiling, but don’t look up.
Keep your chin level with the floor.
Hold this position for 10 seconds, then relax, and repeat 5 to 10 times.
Stretching the chest may be one of the best exercises you can do for your body, since most of us spend much of our time hunched forward. This example shows a chest stretch using a resistance band. You can find resistance bands at most sporting goods and department stores and they’re great to keep in your desk for quick stretching or strengthening moves. There are alternatives below if you don’t have a band.
Do it right: In a seated or standing position, hold the band in a wide grip over the head. Take the arms back just a bit as you lower them down, stretching the chest. Hold for 10-30 seconds. Avoid this move if you have shoulder problems.
Corner Chest Stretch
Stand facing the corner of a room. Raise your hands to shoulder height, and place your forearms, elbows, and hands against each wall. Lean inward to stretch your chest muscles. Hold for 15 seconds (or until you feel loose).
Tip: By raising or lowering the position of your arms, you can alter the stretch to focus on different parts of the pectorals.
Shrug your shoulders to your ears (as shown in the picture) and hold tightly for 2-3 seconds, still holding tightly rotate your shoulders back (you should feel a stretch in the pectoralis muscles or chest muscles) and then relax them down into normal position. Repeat for 10 repetitions for best results!
Get into the position for the chest elevation stretch while sitting, but this time place your hands on your hips. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, feeling the stretch in your chest. Hold for 10 seconds, then relax, and repeat the sequence 5 to 10 times.
Upper Back and Neck Scapular Strengthening
To strengthen the rhomboids, try this version of the scapular retraction. Stand upright. Clasp your hands behind your head. Flex your elbows back while pinching your shoulder blades together. Hold for 10 seconds, then relax, and repeat 5 to 10 times.
Upper Back Stretch
This great stretch works on the neck and upper back muscles. Stretch your arms out in front of you and rotate your hands until your palms face away from each other. You can put both of the back of your hand together or you can put your palms together, which ever is most comfortable.
Then bend over at the upper back like you are diving off the diving board. Be sure and flex your head (chin to chest) at the same time!
Tip: Placing your finger on your upper lip may help guide your head through the proper range of motion and correct any mistakes.
Chin to Chest Stretch
From the chest elevation position while seated, dip your head forward slightly as if you were nodding “yes.” Feel the stretch in the neck at the base of the head. Pause for 10 seconds, then relax and repeat 5 to 10 times.