5 Stretches to Prevent Your Desk Job from Killing You
If you work at a desk all day, chances are you suffer from stiffness or even pain from repetitive motion (or lack of moving around). If you have done this for years you may, like I did have chronic pain that is always lingering. Fortunately just a few easy stretches each day can really alleviate a lot of these aches and pains and even eliminate them all together!
All of these stretches are yoga poses and I can tell you from experience that doing them regularly honestly eliminated all of the body pain that I used to suffer from. I had almost forgotten that I had that kind of daily pain until this year. Since January I have not been able to make my yoga classes and within a couple of weeks all of my body pain had come back full force. I started doing these stretches daily and after just a couple of days the pain had reduced immensely. I'm sure that with continuation I will go back to being pain free again within the month. (I'm a true believer now!)
This is such an amazing discovery I had to share it with you. Daily aches, stiffness and soreness are not something we have to live with. These stretches can take less than 20 minutes and you won't even break a sweat! Now that's good medicine!
Tight Shoulders / Sore Upper Back
If you work 8 hours a day at a desk more than likely your posture suffers, neck and shoulders get tense and stiff. I actually get the worst pain in between my shoulder blades from keyboarding and my shoulders will slump forward and get really stiff. This stretch opens up the chest and stretches those cramped pectorals that become shortened from that posture.
Take a deep breath in as you stretch upward and lean back slightly. Gently hold your breath for a few seconds and stretch. As you exhale just go back to a neutral standing position. Do this about 5 times.
Stiff Knees / Calves / Upper Back
Sitting all day shortens the muscles in your legs and can weaken the muscles around the knees and calves causing pain. It also promotes rounded shoulders and an over stretching of the upper back that causes soreness and tightening of the chest muscles.
This stretch is a forward lunge with arms raised over head and is designed to combat all of these things. Make sure the front knee stays aligned with the ankle to protect the knee from injury (especially since those muscles are already weakened). The back heel should be planted on the ground so the calf and bottom of the foot are stretched fully. This will help with stiff calves and sore feet and heels. For the icing on the cake stretch your arms up overhead and reach for the sky as you stay planted on the ground. This will stretch your sides and back at the same time and alleviate stiffness there also!
Hold this pose for one minute on each side. Make sure you breathe easily and fully while you stretch. (Don't hold your breath) If you can do a couple of repetitions on each side. Enjoy this - it feels so good after sitting all day!
Stiff Shoulders / Sore Upper Back
The best way to keep your posture strong when you sit at a desk all day is to strengthen your upper back and stretch your upper chest. This stretch does both at the same time! Inhale as you lift your upper body and legs up toward the ceiling, hold as long as you can while you continue to breathe. When you are tired take a 30 second break just laying face down on the floor. Do this 5 times.
Stiff Lower Back / Sides
I found that my stiff lower back usually comes from tight glutes and hamstrings from sitting all day. This easy stretch helps loosen both. The key to this stretch is to keep your hip and bottom leg planted firmly on the ground while you keep both shoulders flat on the ground. If you can't reach your hand and keep your leg straight you can bend the knee and/or use a strap. You should feel this stretch in the hips, glutes and hammies. Hold this pose for 1 minute on each side, breathing deeply while you stretch. Repeat one or two times.
Stretch It All!
Just take a look at this beautiful downward dog pose! This is the antithesis of sitting in a chair and stretches the entire body the opposite way that it was positioned all day. If you don't have time to do a series of stretches (but I know you can make 20 minutes for yourself can't you??) This one pose will stretch and strengthen everything that needs it to help you be pain free after a long day at work. My biggest recommendation for this stretch is to make sure you use a yoga mat to avoid slipping on carpet or hardwood and injuring yourself. When you push away from the ground with your hands they can slip and cause injury to your shoulders so take this precaution and use a yoga mat at home. Make sure you activate the upper body by pressing into the ground with your hands and draw your belly in. It's not important to have heels touching the ground but activate the legs by flexing the thighs, relax the ankles and pedal the feet pressing one ankle down at a time to really stretch those calves and the bottom of your feet. You will learn to love this stretch! Do this one 5 times taking a break in between by just lowering to all fours and sitting back into hero pose (seated upright, butt on the ankles, resting the upper body).
I Want to Know
When you try this I want to know how well it's working for you! I seriously experience less pain after the first day of starting this regimen. It's also a wonderful way to decompress from a busy day at the office and helps transition into my evening so try it immediately after you get home from work. (I know you are changing into comfy clothes anyway so do this before - or while - you are plopping down in front of the tv to destress).