This might not feel as the most comfortable thing to do while you are in your office, you might feel a bit awkward doing stretching exercises at your desk. But being dormant for a longer period is not a good thing to do to your body. And not only that but the way you sit, type and hold the phone can cause damage on your bones, joints and muscles.
So what can you do to ward off pain and stiffness and boost your energy and alertness? WebMD consulted orthopedic surgeons and exercise specialists for 12 simple stretching exercises at your desk that will release tension from head to toe. They take only a few minutes. Set the alarm on your cell phone or computer to go off every hour to remind you it’s time to get up and stretch.
Here are the best 12 stretching exercises to do your desk.
- Shrug your shoulders — to release the neck and shoulders
Inhale deeply and shrug your shoulders, lifting them high up to your ears. Hold. Release and drop. Repeat three times. Shake your head slowly, yes and no.
- Substitute walks for email — and don’t eat at your desk
Instead of emailing a colleague and copying 25 people who don’t want to be copied anyway, walk over to the colleague you really want to talk to.”
- Look up to release upper body. Sit up tall in your chair, or stand up. Stretch your arms overhead and interlock your fingers. Turn the palms to the ceiling as you lift your chin up, tilt your head back, and gaze up at the ceiling, too. Inhale, exhale, release.
- Stretch your back and shoulders with a “leg hug”
Sit on the edge of your chair (if it has wheels, wedge the chair against the desk or wall to make sure it does not roll). Put your feet together, flat on the floor. Lean over, chest to knees, letting your arms dangle loosely to the floor. Release your neck. Now bring your hands behind your legs, right hand grasping left wrist, forearm (or elbow if you can reach that far), left hand grasping the right. Feel the stretch in your back, shoulders and neck. Hold. Release your hands to the floor again. Repeat three times or as often as it feels good.
- Cross your arms — for the shoulders and upper back
Extend one arm out straight in front of you. With the other hand, grab the elbow of the outstretched arm and pull it across your chest, stretching your shoulder and upper back muscles. Hold. Release. Stretch out the other arm in front of you — repeat.
- Stretch your back with a “big hug” Hug your body, placing the right hand on your left shoulder and the left hand on your right shoulder. Breathe in and out, releasing the area between your shoulder blades.
- Do leg extensions — work the abs and legs
Grab the seat of your chair to brace yourself and extend your legs straight out in front of you so they are parallel to the floor. Flex and point your toes five times. Release. Repeat.
- Release the upper body with a torso twist
Inhale and as you exhale, turn to the right and grab the back of your chair with your right hand, and grab the arm of the chair with your left. With eyes level, use your grasp on the chair to help twist your torso around as far to the back of the room as possible. Hold the twist and let your eyes continue the stretch — see how far around the room you can peer. Slowly come back to facing forward. Repeat on the other side.
- Point your fingers — good for hands, wrist, and forearms
Stretch your left hand out in front of you, pointing fingers toward the floor. Use your right hand to increase the stretch, pushing your fingers down and toward the body. Be gentle. Do the same with the other hand. Now stretch your left hand out straight in front, wrist bent, with fingers pointing skyward. Use your right hand to increase the stretch, pulling the fingers back toward your body. Do the same on the other side.
- Loosen the hands with air circles
Clench both fists, stretching both hands out in front of you. Make circles in the air, first in one direction, to the count of ten. Then reverse the circles. Shake out the hands.
- Substitute exercise for sitting — while you work
Get rid of your desk chair and substitute an exercise ball. All day you are engaging all the muscles in the back, legs, butt, everything, to stay balanced.
- Just stand up and sit down — no hands
You might have gotten a gold star in preschool for sitting still, but it just goes to show you (best sellers notwithstanding) that not all of us learned everything we need to know in kindergarten. If you stand up and sit down (over and over) — without using your hands — it can be a challenge.