You don’t need us to tell you sitting at your desk all day can start to take a toll on your muscles, especially the ones in your neck, shoulders, and back. And it’s not an uncommon problem in America today, no matter what your job; the US Department of Health and Human Services stated about 8 in 10 Americans experience significant lower back pain at some point in their lives.
Amazingly, just stretching at your desk and giving your circulatory system a boost a few times throughout the day can make a real difference in your neck, shoulder, and back pain. Added bonus: getting the blood flowing can help your creativity, boost your energy, and keep your body working efficiently, which are all key ingredients to a better work day.
So if you find yourself getting achy or slump-y at your desk, try one (or a few) of these stretches to perk up and avoid the damaging effects all-day sitting can have.
Chest & Shoulder Opener
When we sit for long periods of time, especially when looking at a computer, our shoulders have a tendency to shlump forward, causing unnecessary strain on our neck and shoulder muscles. Unnecessary strain = unnecessary aches. To help counteract the forward slump, try this chest and shoulder opener.
Sit on the edge of your chair, and clasp your hands behind your back. Inhale and exhale several times to feel the stretch increase across your chest and shoulders, opening them up. Slowly unclasp your hands and relax. Repeat 2-3 times.
Twisting stretches where the spine is rotated are very effective at stimulating circulation, stretching the muscles of the back, and helping energize our bodies, as well as aiding in digestion. Naturally, a simple seated spinal twist at your desk a few times a day can help to improve your energy, mood, and (of course) your back pain.
To make sure your spine stays protected, sit tall in your chair, keeping the spine long. Place your right hand on the outside of your left knee, inhale, and exhale as you twist your upper body to your left. Stay here for a few breaths before repeating on the opposite side. Do this 2-3 times for each side.
Hip Flexor Stretch
When you sit all day, your hip flexor muscles (the ones at the front creases of your hips) shorten and tighten. Since this little muscle runs through your pelvis to your back, its tightening can cause an achy back. Try this little hip flexor stretch to help loosen those muscles and relieve your back pain.
Sitting on the edge of your chair, shift to face your left. Extend your right leg behind you with your knee as straight as possible. Sit up tall, lift your sternum, and try to tuck your tailbone to increase the stretch. Repeat on each side 2-3 times.
This is another stretch to help your hips and glutes. Just as a house with a crummy foundation will eventually start to show wear and tear higher up in the rest of the house, if the muscles around your sitz bones aren’t helping to keep them supported and aligned, well, guess what kind of shape your spine is in? And as a result of your spine: your shoulder bones and neck muscles?
The seated pigeon stretch, cousin of the yoga pose, may not always be an option at work, but when you can get it in, is a great stretch for your gluteus medius, minimus, and piriformis muscles (or your hip abductors).
Sitting on the edge of your chair, place your right ankle over your left knee. Make sure your left foot is directly under your left knee. Place a hand on your right ankle to keep it in place and allow your right knee and hip to fall open. Hold this stretch on each side for about 30 seconds to a minute, however long feels comfortable.
Relief After Work
Looking for an after work yoga or pilates class to really stretch out those sore muscles? Or maybe a Saturday morning massage to help eliminate the stresses of the work week? Check out HealingRadius.com to find holistic healing and wellness services in your area!
Kat Wiseman is a content writer for Span Enterprises in Rock Hill, SC. She has a B.A. in English-Creative Writing from Winthrop University and her RYT 200 from Yoga Alliance. When she's not writing or doing yoga, she enjoys Netflix marathons, mystery novels, and being at the beach.