The human body was built for ongoing movement, not sitting. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what most of us do eight to ten hours a day at work. Researchers have found that sitting for more than half the day almost doubles the risk for diabetes and heart problems, not to mention nagging back aches and stiff shoulders. While maintaining correct posture at your desk and using an ergonomic chair can help alleviate aches and pains, simple exercises can also help. Here are the best ergonomic stretches for office workers.
Target: Neck and Shoulders
The shrug and roll: Slowly raise shoulders towards your ears. Hold for three seconds, then roll your shoulders back and down. Relax. Repeat.
The neck side-stretch: Tilt your head toward one side, gently pushing your ear toward your shoulder. Hold for ten seconds. Lift your head to a normal, upright position and repeat on the other side.
The shoulder blade pull: Lace your fingers together behind your head and bring your elbows back as far as possible. Squeeze your shoulder blades together until you feel the muscles in your upper back and chest stretching. Hold for ten seconds.
The head turner: Keeping your shoulders straight, slowly turn your head and look to one side until your chin is even with your shoulder. Hold for five seconds. Repeat twice on each side.
Tuck-it-in chin stretch: Keeping your back straight, pull your chin toward your chest until you feel a stretch along the back of your neck. Hold for five seconds. Relax and return to your starting position. Repeat two to three times.
Target: Hands and Wrists
The wrist rotation: Place hands palm to palm facing upward. Rotate palms around until they face downward while keeping elbows even. Hold five seconds.
The arm reach: Reach your hands out and away from your body. Lock your fingers together and turn your palms facing out. Straighten your arms in front of you and feel the stretch in your arms and upper back. Hold for ten seconds. Relax then repeat two to three times.
The finger stretch-and-clench: Separate and straighten fingers until you feel a stretch, keeping your hand in alignment with your wrist. Hold five seconds. Bend fingers at knuckle and hold an additional five seconds. Repeat.
The wrist flex: Raise your arms out in front of you with your palms facing down and your fingers flat. Slowly extend your wrists and fingers so they are pointing up, hold a few seconds then point toward the floor. Repeat as desired.
Target: Upper and Lower Back
The pat-yourself-on-the-back: With your right hand, reach behind your head placing this hand on your upper back. Keep your arm close to your ear. Gently hold your elbow with your left hand, pulling the elbow toward the back of your head. Reach your right hand toward the middle of your back until you feel a gentle stretch. Hold for ten seconds. Relax. Repeat on the other side.
The criss-cross back stretch: Sit forward in your chair so there’s a little room between your back and the back of the chair. Face forward and cross your right leg over your left. Put your left hand on your right knee, and gently pull toward your left side while slowly turning your head and shoulders to the right. Keep turning until you see the wall behind your right shoulder and feel a stretch in the middle of your back. Hold for five seconds. Repeat on the other side.
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