By: Lisa Payne
Have you ever looked at the clock and realized you haven’t moved from your desk chair since you walked in? Think of what that’s doing to your body inside and out!
Many of us have to spend the majority of our day in an office, but that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to get some movement in. It’s best to get up and move every 15 to 20 minutes, whether it be to get a sip of water, run to the restroom, or even just to take a loop around the office. However, if you’re stuck in your office without a break in sight, take our advice and follow this five-minute stretch routine to do from your desk.
Being seated for long periods of time can make your shoulders, spine, and hips feel tight and compressed. Keeping your spine tall and mobile can help elevate your shoulders and reduce hip tightness. That’s why it’s essential to do several spinal twists a day.
Start by sitting all the way upright. Take your hands to the outside of your right thigh or to the arm of the right side of your chair. Rotate your torso to the right by engaging your core. Relax your shoulders. Try not to pull on the chair and force your body into the twist. Let the twist end where it ends. Rest for 30 seconds before twisting over to the left.
From your spinal twist, come back to a tall spine and reach your left arm up and over your head with the palm facing the right side of the room. Rest your right arm on the arm of the chair and reach your left hand over to the right. Relax your head. You should feel a nice stretch all along your left rib cage and maybe even into your left hip. Slowly come back through center and then reach your right arm up and stretch over to the left.
With your right hand still up and over your head and your head still relaxed over towards your left shoulder, flip your right palm so it now faces the right wall. From there slowly lower your right palm towards the floor and let it hover. You should feel a pain-free stretch along the right side of your neck and into the shoulder. This is an excellent stretch for anyone who tends to round over a computer. To come out of this position, take your left palm, place it to the left side of your cheek, and gently set your head back to center. Rushing out of this position could actually irritate your neck. Repeat this on the other side!
Once you’ve finished both sides of the neck stretch, stand up, and place your hands onto the desk to help keep your balance. Cross your right ankle up and over your left thigh and then sink both hips towards the ground. This is an excellent stretch for the outer hip, IT band, and glutes. Take as long as you need on each side!
After that last stretch, you might want to shake out those legs a bit! But when you’re ready, place both palms back on the desk and keep walking your feet backwards until your back is flat and your body looks like an “L.” Relax your head and keep pulling the weight back into your heels. Traction out your spine a little bit and keep your knees soft. This lengthening stretch helps elevate that compressed feeling from sitting.
Much like how regular strength training contributes to building muscle, regular sitting contributes to tight, atrophied muscles. Getting up and standing at regular intervals increases circulation, boosts your mood, and prevents you from losing muscle. Hit the reset button on those extra-long work days by taking just five minutes to stretch at your desk!