How to Stretch at Work

Lack of exercise is one of the most serious health issues facing our modern society, according to some experts. Almost 70 percent of full-time American workers hate sitting, yet 86 percent do it all day, every day. When people do get up, more than 56 percent use lunch as an excuse to move. In total, Americans are sitting an average of 13 hours a day.

Whether you realize it or not, sitting in an uncomfortable office chair for long periods of time can be one of the worst things you can do for your body, particularly your neck and back. Studies show stretching at work can make us more refreshed and productive in our jobs. These mini stretch breaks can help clear your mind for the tasks ahead and release stress, at least temporarily, from your day. Finding time to get your blood pumping during your busy week may not always be easy, but there are a few simple ways you can move at your desk to ease the tension.

Pick a few – or all – of these stretches next time you need a break from the screen.

A woman stretches at her desk

Seated Backbend

While seated with a straight spine take a deep breath and reach all the way up to the ceiling with your arms open wide. As you exhale, let your gaze slowly draw behind you and bend slightly from your upper back and chest. Hold this for a few seconds, release arms to your sides, then repeat a few times.

Seated Twist

Sit in your chair with your spine tall and straight. Take an inhale and on the exhale, twist to one side from the bottom of your spine (more from your abdomen, less from your back) grabbing your armrest. Breathe here for a few seconds, then do the other side. A seated twist will help with both an achy back from hunching and sitting, as well as keep your digestion in check.

A woman stretches at her desk
A woman stretches at her desk

Wrist Release

Weeks and years of typing can take a toll on your wrists and forearms. Take a moment with each hand to bend your wrists in each direction. First, with one hand press your fingertips toward the top of your arm, then switch. Then bend each wrist in the opposite direction by pressing your fingertips toward the inside of your wrist. And then to fully release any other tension, put both arms out and give your wrists a good rapid shake side to side, then up and down.

Desk Shoulder Opener

Scoot your chair out and stand a few feet from your desk so just your hands can touch. Drop your head between your arms to achieve a good shoulder stretch. This will counteract the hunching that inevitably happens when sitting at a desk and typing, while also getting your shoulders back into proper alignment.

A woman stretches at her desk
A woman stretches at her desk

Forward Fold

Stand next to your desk, fold over in half with soft knees and let gravity take over. Hold for at least 20 seconds and sway side to side if that feels good. By letting your arms and head hang, your neck and shoulders will decompress from all that computer typing. Plus, reversing the blood flow will give you a boost of energy for the rest of your work day. If you can get away with legs up a wall or kicking into a handstand, by all means. But to keep from distracting the office a forward fold will do the trick.

Try to take a little break and do a couple of stretches today!

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