Now that we’re heading back to the office after the pandemic it’s important to stretch those muscles that can cause soreness in the neck, upper back, and shoulders and tension headaches that can occur from sitting in the same position for hours on end. It’s helpful to have your desk set up ergonomically, but most people don’t.
Studies have shown regular stretching can help reduce the pain and tension. It’s also been shown that regular breaks to stand and stretch increase productivity.
The following stretches can be performed multiple times a day:
Set an alarm to go off every hour to remind you
Hold each stretch for :15 to :30
Avoid stretches that cause pain
1. Chest stretch – interlace your fingers behind your head then separate your elbows by squeezing your shoulder blades together. This stretches muscles of the chest (pectoralis major) and activates the muscles of the upper back (trapezius and rhomboids).
2. Middle back stretch – interlace fingers, turn palms forward and push your hands as far forward as possible making sure to separate your shoulder blades. If this hurts your hands, interlace your fingers, but keep your palms facing you. This will release the muscles between your shoulder blades.
3. Spine twist – sit tall with your feet flat on the floor. Pull your abs in slightly then gently rotate your upper body to one side. You can use the armrest to help with the stretch. Repeat other side. This helps with middle and low back stiffness.
4. Lat stretch – the latissimus dorsi muscles are located on each side of the body and bring the arms down and rotate them in. This can lead to a hunched position. Stand facing a wall and reach up with both hands as high as possible while taking a step back with one leg. Lean slightly forward to feel the stretch in your armpits.
5. Forearm stretch – tight forearms can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Extend both arms in front of you, palms forward and fingers up (like iron man). Grab the fingers of one hand with the other hand and gently pull back. Repeat other hand.
6. Hip flexor stretch – stand facing a wall then put your hands on the wall at shoulder height. Step back with the right foot approximately 1 foot. Keeping that knee straight, tilt your hips under you (like a scared dog hiding its tail) and hold. Repeat other leg.
7. Hip stretch – while seated, cross the right ankle over the left knee. Lean forward while keeping your back straight (think chest to knee), until you feel a stretch in the right hip and buttock. Repeat other leg.
8. Calf stretch – put both hands on a wall. Step back with the right leg approximately two feet. Keeping that knee straight, lean forward until a stretch is felt right below the knee. Repeat other leg.
Try these stretches on a regular basis throughout the day and watch your tension melt away.
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