Whether you work from home or work in an office, you understand that sitting down all day can cause pain, especially in the upper back, shoulders, and neck. Not to mention, a sedentary work schedule can cause serious tension in the hip flexors, which leads to lower back pain. At least once during your workday, you feel stiff or achy. Fortunately, there are several desk stretches that can help counteract the harmful effects of sitting all day.
The body does not do well if you remain in a stationary position for an extended period of time. Sitting for too long means that certain areas of the body receive less blood flow. Muscles and joints lose extensibility, which often leads to fatigue, soreness, cramping, and general discomfort. That said, you may not be able to abandon your desk job and avoid sitting altogether. You can, however, alternate between sitting and standing, especially if you have a standing desk.
How often you stretch while working depends on your body, how you are feeling, and whether or not you are active. If you have the ability to get up and move or walk on your lunch break, you’ll feel a lot better because of the increased circulation. Hopefully the following stretches help relieve any tension you get from sitting at your desk.
Standing Calf Stretch
Stand upright behind the back of your chair with your feet hip-distance apart and place your hands on the back of the chair for support. Step your right leg behind you and bend your left leg slightly. Make sure that your right heel is touching the ground and your back leg is straight. Lean forward so that you feel the stretch along your right calf. Hold for 15-20 seconds and then repeat on the other leg.
Chair Hamstring Stretch
Remain standing behind your chair just like you did in the previous calf stretch. Place your hands on the chair and walk your feet back, hinging at the hips to lean forward until your torso is parallel to the ground. Lengthen your back and keep your legs straight, so that you feel a stretch along your hamstrings and upper back. Remain in this stretch for 30 seconds.
Office Chair Hip Flexor Stretch
This stretch is a bit more advanced, but the relief in your hips is absolutely wonderful. Stand in a split stance, your right foot in front of your left, in front of your chair facing away from it. Place the top of your left foot on the chair and bend your knees to lower down into a lunge. If possible, bring your left knee to the floor and keep your hips squared. Straighten your back and tuck your tailbone, feeling the stretch along the front of your left hip. Remain here for 20-30 seconds before switching legs.
Seated Back Stretch
Remain in your chair and scoot your butt all the way back in your chair. Widen your feet and point your knees outward slightly. Fold forward and allow your lower back to round and relax. You can touch your hands to the floor, or grab hold of your elbows and hang. Remain here for 30 seconds and then slowly roll back up to the starting position.
Seated Shoulder Stretch
Sit up straight on the edge of your chair and bring your left arm across your chest. Hook your right hand or forearm just above your left elbow and hug your left arm into your chest without rounding your upper back. Hold the stretch for about 20 seconds and then switch arms to repeat.
Seated Upper Trap Stretch
Sit up straight on the edge of your chair and reach your left hand over your head to place it on the right side of your head. Keep your right arm by your side holding the chair for support and gently pull your head to the left. Think about lengthening your neck, as opposed to just pulling your head to the side and down to your shoulder. Hold for 20 seconds, rest, and repeat one more time before doing the same on the other side.