Hours and hours of leaning in front of our computer, often motionless, many times on a not suitable chair. Sometimes not even that – sitting at the sofa or floor. Sounds familiar?
This all often leads to uncomfortable neck and back pain in the short term, and even more serious spinal problems in the long run. We all KNOW we need to take regular breaks and stretch our bodies to avoid unwanted stiffness and pain. It takes less than 10 minutes.
But what exactly should we do for that work stretch?
The following nine movements are perfect for anyone working from a desk or spending most of the day at home.
Sit up with your back straight and your shoulders down.
Your buttocks should touch the back of your chair. (The chair’s seating surface is in contact with our body as much as possible)
Your soles support the floor comfortably
The thighs and legs are angled 90 degrees.
Ready? Let’s stretch!
1 Upward stretch
Stretch well with both arms towards the ceiling (inhale), then bring your arm down next to the torso (exhale) – 3-4x
Stretching with alternating arms: raise both your arms high, and then stretch alternately towards the ceiling, first with one arm and then the other, (as if you were picking cherries from a tree) – 3-4x
2 Shoulder rotation
First, put your hands on your shoulders and circle your elbows backwards – 4-6x (try to draw as large a circle as possible with elbows in the air)
Then, lower your arms beside you and continue to circle your shoulders backwards – 4-6x
3 Head nods and rotations
Nod the head forward (chin to the chest) and then back – 4x
Nod the head sideways – 4x on both sides
Rotate sideways – 4x on both sides
4 Forward bend
Start with arms hanging by you.
Then bend your chin towards your chest and slowly start rolling forward, with the top of your head towards the ground; hold this position for a few seconds, then roll back upwards to the starting position. Repeat 3-4 times.
5 Side stretch
Raise your right arm towards the ceiling and hold on to the chair with your left arm (or put your hands on your hips). Stretch your arm and bend to the left (exhale), then come back to the centre (inhale) – 4x
Exchange arms to repeat on the other side – 4x
6 Cow/Cat pose
Place your hands on your knees or hold on to the 2 sides of the chair
Lean forward, open your chest and close your shoulder blades (inhale), then band your back, look at your belly-button (exhale) – 4x
Alternatively, you can do this in standing position.
7 Spine twist
Place your left hand on your right knee and hold on to the back of the chair with your right hand (or hug the backrest of the chair)
Inhale and stretch upwards (!), then exhale and twist your torso to the right, looking back over your right shoulder (use your hands to help the spine twist), then inhale and return to the centre – 4x
Repeat to the other side – 4x
8 Hip stretch
Place your right ankle on your left knee. The right leg is horizontal, the knee faces outwards. Tilt forward with a straight back, while gently pushing down your right knee. Keep this position for 3-4 breaths, and with every breath try to tilt your torso forward deeper and deeper.
Repeat with the other leg.
9 Stand & stretch forward
Stand behind the back of the chair and put your hands on the backrest of the chair. Roll the chair forward and lower your chest until your arms and back are at the same level. Try to stretch your knees as much as possible. You should feel a nice stretch in your hamstring and calf. Hold this position for 3-4 breaths.
Done? Good! What now?
If you have successfully tried out the 9 office stretching exercises, go ahead and repeat them every hour or two. Download and print this 9-minute Gymnastics Reminder. Put it on your work desk or home office wall. Good luck!
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