By Mike O’Rourke
Are you experiencing neck or trap pain? Maybe your hips are feeling tight after a long day of sitting at your desk? I have created a list of five stretches to help you feel better at the workplace.
Before we begin, I want you to look at how your desk is set up. When seated at your workspace, make sure that your computer chair is elevated high enough, so that your elbows are comfortably rested on the desk. This chair height is going to help prevent you from overusing your shoulders. Now that your chair is at a good height, we will first address a neck and trap stretch.
To stretch your neck and traps, you will need to do a little more than just grab your head and pull it over to your shoulder. Start this stretch by shrugging one shoulder up as high up as it will go, and then pull the head over to the opposite side. As you are pulling your head towards the relaxed shoulder, take the shrugged shoulder and lower it down and away from the body. You should start to feel a deep stretch in both your neck and trap. Repeat this stretch for 30-60 seconds on both sides.
Moving down the body to the thoracic spine, I want to help get your body out of the hunched-over position. To do this stretch, you will need to slouch just a little bit more. By tilting the pelvis backwards, i.e., by sticking your buttocks out, it allows your spine to do some flexion. Once you have tucked your pelvis backward, then cross your hands on your shoulders, turn your body to left, and lift your chest up. You should start to feel your mid back extending up. Rotate the body to the right and repeat, lifting the chest up.
Next is the hip flexor. For this particular stretch, get into the classic “figure 4” stretch, where you are placing the ankle on the opposite knee. Rolling your pelvis forward and keeping a tall spine position as you lean forward, you should then feel this on your hip and glute.
After typing for hours, our wrists and forearms can get tight and cramped! To help alleviate this tightness, I suggest a prayer stretch. Place both palms touching each other, as in prayer, in front of your chest. Your elbows should flair out to the sides. Press and hold for 30 seconds. Release the pressure, and then move your hands straight out in front of the chest; thumbs should be facing up. Squeeze the hands together and pull your palms toward your chest, holding for 30 seconds. From there, point your fingers down towards the floor. With your palms still together, lift your hands back up, and hold for 30 seconds.
For the final stretch, stand and place your hands on top of your chair, about arms-length away from the body. With your hands still on the chair, push your hips back and away from it. This will start firing in the hamstring area. Once you feel the stretch, lift your chest up. We have now stretched your lower back. (If your chair is too high, place your hands on your desk and try it as an alternative option.)
After that last stretch, go back and sit down in your chair again. How do your neck and traps feel? You can use any, or all, of these stretches to break up the work day, revitalize you, and alleviate pain and tightness.
Michael O’Rourke is a certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (N.A.S.M.) He also is a TRX Certified Trainer. Michael works with a large variety of clients and has a passion for exercise that will challenge your stability and core. He believes that having a positive mental attitude will help anyone overcome obstacles in their way. With his positive mindset Michael is ready to help clients of all skill sets with programs that will help with goals such as balance, fat loss and muscle growth. Michael is currently studying to become a NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist.