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.
To combat these aches and pains you can perform a few simple stretches throughout the day that will help increase flexibility and reduce tension and stress.
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The following 9 stretches target the muscles of the back, neck and shoulders as well as the hips and glutes.
1. Chest Stretch
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.
2. Shoulder Shrugs
The shoulders and neck hold a lot of stress and tension from typing, clicking and scrunching. Shoulder shrugs are a great way to relax the shoulders and get a little circulation going.
Do it right: Seated or standing, lift the shoulders up towards the ears, squeezing them as hard as you can. Hold for 1-2 seconds and roll them back as you relax down. Repeat for 8-10 reps.
3. Upper Back Stretch
The upper back can also become tense and tight from hunched shoulders, especially if you hold the phone against your shoulder or use your mouse a lot. The shoulder rolls above may help loosen you up for this upper back stretch.
Do it right: Seated or standing, stretch the arms straight out and rotate the hands so that the palms face away from each other. Cross the arms so that the palms are pressed together, contract the abs and round the back, reaching away as you relax the head. Don’t collapse but instead imagine you’re curving up and over an imaginary ball. Hold the stretch for 10-30 seconds. If twisting the arms doesn’t feel good, simply lace the fingers together.
4. Spinal Twist
Sitting for prolonged periods of time can also affect the lower back, leaving it tight and achy. This stretch will help gently work out some of that tension.
Do it right: In a seated position with the feet flat on the floor, contract the abs and gently twist the torso towards the right, using your hands to help deepen the stretch. Only twist as far as you comfortably can and keep the back straight while keeping the hips square. Hold for 10-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
5. Torso Stretch
Even if you pay attention to your posture, you may find yourself sinking back into a hunched position, which can make your back ache. This simple move will stretch all the muscles in your back, sides and arms.