Sitting at a desk for work all day can takes a toll on your body, both mentally and physically. Tightness in the lower back, neck, shoulders, and hip flexors are a common result of sitting and even standing for long periods of time. But these quick stretches can be done right at your desk, waking up your mind and muscles and leaving you feeling refreshed! Hold all stretches for 20-30 seconds each.
1. Head Tilt
We hold a lot of tension in our necks, which can often bring on headaches. Tilt your right ear toward your right shoulder, reaching the ear toward the floor and letting the left shoulder drop. For an extra stretch, place your right hand on the left side of your head and gently pull. Play with the angle of your head – keep looking forward, but tilt your head toward the floor and toward the ceiling to feel where you get the most stretch. Hold the stretch at the point of most tension, then repeat on the other side.
2. Lower Back Stretch
Low back pain is one of the most common workplace injuries, so it’s important to do these stretches. To stretch it out, sit forward on your chair. Keeping the left leg straight, bring your right knee toward your chest. Use your hands on the underside of your right leg to bring the thigh closer to the chest, being careful not to lean forward. Hold the stretch, then repeat with the other leg.
3. Hip Flexor Stretch
Tight hip flexors can cause any number of problems, including habitually poor posture, low back pain, and decreased athletic performance. Sitting all day keeps the hip flexors constantly working and thus constantly tight. Loosen them by kneeling on the floor with your torso straight. Bring your left leg forward so the left foot is flat, keeping the right leg in the kneeling position. Keep your hips in line with each other as you push your pelvis forward, shifting the weight off your kneecap and stretching out the top of the right hip. Hands can be either on the floor or on top of your left thigh. Hold the stretch, then repeat on the other side. If this bothers your knee, place a thin pillow under the kneeling knee.
4. Chest Opener
Tightness in the chest and shoulders is often the result of sitting in less-than-perfect posture – rounded shoulders and slouched back from being hunched over a keyboard. Clasp your hands behind your back or your chair and think of pulling the chest apart. Keeping the hands clasped, raise the arms as high as you can while looking toward the ceiling. Remember to exhale, feeling your chest and lungs expand as they take in the stretch.
5. Eye Stretch
Our eyes can get fatigued from looking at a computer screen all day, so give them a break too! Look at an object about 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Then, move the eyes to the right of the center object for 10 second, return the focus back to the center, and then move the eyes to the left. This will help refocus attention.