How Can We Stretch When We are Sitting All the Time?
Stretches You Can Do at Your Desk
Going from the bed to the car to the desk to the sofa, many of my patients feel the need to stretch, but just don’t take the time. When you are sitting all day, you need to stretch to avoid the aches and pains that come with a stiff body. You may not have an hour a day to do a stretch or yoga class, but, it’s important to stretch a little bit frequently to really stay flexible. A good stretch begins from a position of good posture. When stretching at your desk, make sure you have your ergonomics set up first to minimize stress on the body. When you are sitting properly, it will be easier to stretch at your desk or even in your car.
Stretching the Neck, Shoulders and Wrists at Your Desk
It’s nice to have a routine for stretching. You can take a stretch break at natural shifts in your work flow to energize and refocus or if your work is more intense, set an alarm. Stretching will help you take a step back and regroup. For the neck, shoulders and wrists follow these simple steps:
- Sit up straight! With your arm straight down the side of your body, grasp the seat of your chair.
- Lean and tilt your head to the opposite side. You will get a nice stretch in your shoulder and neck, mostly the upper trapezius muscle. Take the stretch to tension, then ease off several times. A stretch should never hurt.
- From that position, turn your head down and then nod yes a few times. This will move the stretch across the front of your neck, loosening the scalene muscles.
- When your chin is down, roll the opposite shoulder back and down, like you are trying to put your shoulder blade in your back pocket. This stretches the levator scapulae a muscle many people have knots in which can cause headaches and neck pain.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Now that you’ve stretched all the way around your neck and shoulders, a simple stretch for your wrist it to just flex one hand down with the other and then back up. Very important if you work on a computer and want to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome.
Stretches for Your Back at Your Desk
Many people forget to do stretches for their back, even though it may ache from sitting all day. Some of these stretches can actually be done while seated, but it’s better to stand, take your eyes off your computer for 30 seconds, then sit down a little refreshed. Some of the most important stretches for the back are actually leg muscle stretches. The psoas and quadriceps, on the front of the thigh, lift the leg, but when you sit a lot these muscles can become shortened. The hamstrings on the back of the leg can easily get deconditioned and tight as well.
- Stand with your hands on your hips and lean back to reverse all that slouching! At the same time squeeze your shoulder blades together to open up your chest.
- Stand with on leg slightly bent at the knee and the other straight out in front of you with the heel on the floor. Gently bend at the waist to create a stretch in your hamstrings.
- Supporting yourself with a hand on your desk, bend your hip and knee so you can hold the cuff of your pants or your ankle. Slowly bring the knee of the bent leg toward the knee of the one you are standing on.
- The psoas, in the groin area, can be stretched from a lunge position with your back knee on the floor. Just keep you’re your back upright and tilt your pelvis up as if there were a flashlight in your navel and you are shinning it up.
- Walk around your desk. When you sit back down, cross your ankle onto your other knee and gently pull the crossed knee toward the opposite shoulder. This stretches the anterior gluteal muscle in your bottom, a muscle that is often involved in lower back pain among people who sit a lot.
There is a difference between a stiff neck from tight muscles and a stiff neck from stuck joints. Sometimes it’s obvious. If you try to move your neck and it stops short, but you don’t feel a stretch, that is your joints blocking the movement. If you stretch regularly, but don’t seem to get any looser, again, that could be your joints. In these cases you will need chiropractic adjusting to free up the joints before you will be able to stretch the muscles that cross the joints. Either way, if you are a person who is sitting at a desk, regular chiropractic checkups and daily stretching are important to keep your neck, shoulders and back flexible and free from pain.