Many of us work at desks all day long. In fact the Bureau of Labor Statistics points out that many employees spend as much as 90% of their day sitting down. All that sitting can be tough on backs, legs, shoulders, necks, and even our mental health. Ultimately, it causes stress to the muscles and the mind. Massage is a great tool to eliminate pain and combat stress. Nonetheless, you may not be able to make it to the spa every day. We’ve compiled a few stretches and exercises you can do while you work to alleviate desk stress.
1) Torso Twist
The back, neck, and shoulders can become very tense as you type, answer phones, and work on stressful problems. WebMD suggests doing a torso twist to release tension in your back. While seated facing forward in the chair, turn to your left. Grab the back of your chair with your right hand and gently pull yourself further around. Extend your neck and your gaze as far as they can go. Repeat the same exercise on the left side.
2) Shoulder Blade Squeeze
As you sit at your desk, it easy to hunch over your computer. The more entangled with your work you become, the further you are likely to hunch down. Over time all of that hunching can permanently impact your posture. The shoulder blade squeeze, recommended by an article from Time Magazine, is a great way to combat the hunching. Simply squeeze your shoulder blades together, pushing back your shoulders in the process, as though you are gripping a pencil between them. Hold the squeeze for ten seconds, then release and repeat. This exercise will strengthen your back and improve your posture.
3) Wall Sit
While you sit in your chair all day, you are no longer using muscles and burning calories. To strengthen and tone muscles while you work, try the wall sit. Press your back against the wall with your knees at a 90 degree angle. Hold this position as long as you are able. Take a break and then see if you can improve your time. Depending on the configuration of your office, you can take phone calls or even work on the computer while you do this exercise. If you do not have a solid wall in your workspace try squatting for a few seconds over your chair, using your leg muscles to hold you up.
4) Number 4 Sit
Does your bottom ever start to feel flat after you have been sitting for awhile? This simple stretch will help relax the muscle in your bottom and help you stay more comfortable while you work. Prevention Magazine teaches to cross your left leg over your right knee in a number 4 shape. Press gently on the left knee and lean forward slightly until you feel the stretch. Hold the stretch for a few seconds and then switch legs.
Lastly, we know that sitting at a desk is envitable, but how can we improve the experience and keep our body healthy while sitting for several hours a day? Here’s a few more ideas to keep your body healthy throughout the day.
Consider a Stand Up Desk
No matter how many stretches you do, your body is still going to struggle with being seated for hours at a time. Consider getting a stand up desk or finding a place to work while standing such as countertop. This will stretch out your muscles that tend to crimp while seated, as well as strengthen those you wouldn’t normally use. At first, you may find it difficult to stand for long periods of time. Slowly build up your tolerance and strength, starting with short periods of standing and increasing it regularly.
Adjust your Positioning
Muscle strain can be exaggerated by poor positioning of your desk, monitor, chair or the like. For example, you may increase neck strain if your monitor is too low. It should be eye level so that your chin is parallel to the ground. Secondly, your chair should have good lumbar support to ease you into a position of good posture. Lastly, your feet should be flat on the ground. A few simple adjustments to your position can make a big difference.
Even if you are active outside of work, it is still important to keep your body flexible and moving throughout the day. These simple, inconspicuous stretches and exercises can keep you limber, comfortable and energized while you work. Your body and massage therapist will thank you!