You know the feeling…stiff neck, sore back, eyes feel groggy and heavy. You have been sitting at your computer for the last 8 hours but it feels more like 12! Try a 10 min stretch and/or walk break morning, lunch and afternoon and you should feel more awake, happier, more productive and have less pain! It is easy, doesn’t make you all sweaty and only takes a few minutes. Here are the 5 stretches I think are the most important for jobs that require a lot of sitting. If you have the time to get up, walk around and/or do a few stairs you will really feel the benefits of stretching and increase your alertness.
1)Neck stretch: Sit on your left hand, and tilt your head to the right, still looking forward. Use your free right hand to either support your head or press down gently for added stretch. Hold for 10-30 sec and repeat on the other side. Use your free right hand to lift your head back up to neutral to avoid excessively using your neck muscles.
2)Neck stretch #2: To stretch another overused neck muscle, the levator scapulae, perform the same move as above except til your head down and to the side, as if you are trying to sniff your armpit! Trust me, it works!
3)Chest stretch: During the day our shoulders will round and slump, putting more stress on the upper back and neck muscles, as well as creating a chain reacting down to poor lower back posture. Stand beside a wall, facing to the side. Put your arm from the elbow to the hand against the wall, with 90 degrees at both the shoulder and the elbow. Step forward with the foot closest to the wall. Hold for 10-30 sec and repeat on the other side.
4) You may experience low back pain from sitting in a chair all day which could be due to tight and overactive Hamstrings and Hip Flexor muscles that are tilting the pelvis to the posterior, creating back pain. Sitting in your chair, extend one leg with the toes facing up, keeping the other flat on the floor. Hinging from the hip (NOT the lower back) bring your chest forward. You will feel a pull at the back of your leg. Hold 10-30 sec, repeat for the other leg.
5)Stretch the Hip Flexors and Quadriceps by standing up, near something sturdy for balance and grabbing your “shoelaces”. The knee should remain in line with the other knee and upper body is tall and upright. Hold 10-30 sec and repeat for other leg.
When stretching, you should never feel pain, only a slight pulling sensation which could be uncomfortable if you have never experienced it before. If you feel pain, immediately pull back on the intensity of the stretch or stop the stretch all together. Always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program! Remember, every little bit counts, live well and love always!