If you, like many people, spend too much time sitting at your desk in front of a computer, it’s important to learn how to stretch to avoid back pain and muscle aches. It’s easy to learn a few simple stretches to work your muscles, increase your energy, and keep you focused.
Upper Body Stretches
To stretch your upper body, start by straightening your back and reaching your arms as far as you can over your head. This will stretch your arms, your upper back, and your shoulders. Next, try a neck stretch. Neck pain is common after sitting too long, so stretching your neck can alleviate a lot of upper body pain. Rotate your head side to side, looking as far back over each shoulder as you can. Drop your head forward so your chin touches your chest, and slowly roll your head from side to side. Never roll your head completely around in a circle, as that can actually worsen neck pain.
Next, work your shoulders. Start by shrugging your shoulders, as if you’re shrugging at someone who has asked you a question. After that, roll your shoulders one at a time, going forward and backward with each shoulder.
To loosen up your arms, push your chair away from your desk and stretch your arms straight out in front of you. Move them in small circles, making sure to go both clockwise and counterclockwise. This stretches out your arms, alleviates the wrist pain that typing and writing can cause, and loosens your hand muscles.
To finish out your upper body stretching, you need to twist. Place your hands on one side of your body, and use them to help you twist your torso in that direction. Only twist as far as you can comfortably go—never push yourself to the point of pain. Switch your hands to the other side of your body and repeat.
Lower Body Stretches
Since your legs are typically very idle during desk work, it’s important to stretch them intermittently to keep them loose and relaxed. One good way of doing this is a leg extension. If your balance is poor, hold onto your seat to help stay level. Bend your legs and slowly stretch them out so they are straight out from your hips.
To stretch your hips and knees, bend one knee and lift it as if you are going to cross your legs. Pull it in as close as you can to the inner thigh of the opposite leg. Hold it for a few seconds before releasing the leg to the floor. Repeat with the other leg.
Relieving tight calf muscles is important when you have been sitting for a while. Place your feet firmly on the ground and slowly point your toes up as far as you can, being sure to keep your heels on the ground. Hold the stretch for a few seconds and then release.
Staying limber at your desk is easy with these stretches—try to cycle through the stretches once for every hour that you sit, and your back and muscle pains will disappear.