We’re always looking for great advice when it comes to keeping our bodies healthy and strong on a daily basis. The truth is, no matter how much you love the work you do, sitting at a desk all day – looking at a computer screen and typing a million miles a minute – can be counterproductive to your fitness goals, overall mobility and well being. We connected with Emily Francis, author of Stretch Therapy: A Comprehensive Guide to Basic and Assisted Stretching, to get some insider tips on how to keep our bodies in the best shape and prevent against injuries on the days we’re glued to our chairs and computer screens.
Here are six stretches that you can incorporate into your weekly routine to counteract the effects a desk job can have on your body.
When you are sitting stagnant for several hours throughout the day, your body feels those effects. We want to get the blood and energy circulating and energized. I am here to break down the easiest and most effective stretches for you to do before, during or after you’re sitting at your desk for hours at a time. The series takes about 8 minutes of your time and the results are invaluable. At first glance, these stretches might seem a little too simple – but that’s the point. They’re easy AND they work!
Eyestrain from staring at a computer can be the cause of headaches, blurred vision, and loss of focus. There are simple things that you can do to help stretch the eyes and bring better circulation of blood and energy to the eyes
Scoot back from the computer, or turn away from it altogether. Close your eyes for a moment to prepare your eyes for these stretches. Then, without moving your head:
Don’t just glance up and down and side to side. Look all the way up as far as you are able without turning your head. Look as far down as you can. Hold the spot for a moment before moving the eyes to the opposite spot. Then move on to these stretches:
The first few times you do this you might feel slightly dizzy, because we rarely exercise the eyes as well as you might think. But don’t give up! Keep your focus on your chin. Hold your chin in place and don’t let it move.
Enhance this stretch by incorporating “half pigeon” pose: Right knee comes across the front of your body and push up with your arms to get your back as straight as possible. You should feel the stretch in your IT-band. Switch and do the left side (shown below)
The jaws often get overlooked and should become a central focus if you want to rid yourself of those stress headaches. Many times without realizing it, we clench our jaws when we are sitting at our desk, working hard to meet deadlines. This not only locks up the jaw but the head and the shoulders as well. It is when we are too tight in the jaws that we get headaches in the front part of our heads above the eyes.
There is one simple tool that can help release the jaws, the temporals, and the neck. All it takes is one little cork. Yes, the kind of cork you find in a wine bottle, or at any arts and crafts stores. Bring it to work and keep one in your desk. I keep one in my glove box in my car. When I sit in traffic and find myself frustrated, I put that little cork in and release the tension
Simply place the cork vertically between the top and bottom front teeth. That’s all you have to do and the cork will do the rest…believe me, you will feel it! Try to keep it in place for 3 minutes.
Tight muscles in your neck can make all the difference in your day-to-day comfort. Follow these steps to keep your muscles agile and avoid those loud cracks that can send chills down your spine.
With all the typing and clicking we do, this stretch is incredibly helpful. If you only have time for one, this is the one to do
The doorway or wall stretch will save you and your posture! When we sit in that chair we tend to round our shoulders forward and cause a lot of body tension in our chest, our upper back, neck and shoulders. We do not want to give in to this sort of posture!
Similar to the chest and shoulders, your back is affected by 6+ hours of sitting all day and can wreak havoc on your mobility now and down the line. This is a great stretch to do before bed or first thing in the morning:
If you are going to go to all this effort to open up your body, you really mustn’t neglect your hips, knees and lower body. Once you have completed all of the above, simply rest in one of the most comfortable stretches that exists: child’s pose.
Now go on… get your stretch on and share these tips with your colleagues.