by Rebecca Lingerfelt, DPT
Following up from our blog about exercises to do in the office setting, here are some suggestions for stretches. For each of these stretches, hold for 20-30 seconds, then relax. Remember, you should feel a gentle stretch and nothing so aggressive that you have pain. Too many people spend much of their day seated and slouched down with rounded shoulders and chin jutted forward. Every once in a while it is good to take your hands off the keyboard, put your feet flat on the floor and do these stretches.
1.) Clasp your hands behind your back or behind the back of your chair, and stretch your chest forward.
2.) Next hold one hand onto the side of the chair and reach the other hand to the top of your head. Gradually move your head until a stretch is felt in the side of the neck. Do each side. Also look slightly toward your bent elbow and try the stretch; see how the stretch in your neck is different.
3.) To stretch your lower back, move your legs apart and reach toward the floor, trying to relax the back and not use those muscles. Come back to sitting by walking your hands up your legs for support.
4.) For stretching the legs, cross your ankle onto your opposite knee. Press the bent knee toward the floor until a stretch is felt deep in the rear end. Next prop your foot on a low surface directly in front of you, keep your knee straight, and reach your hands toward your foot; stretch each side separately.
5.) Once you stand up, maybe on your way to the copier or to get that next cup of coffee, stretch your calves by stepping back and keeping your foot flat and toes pointed forward. Do not lean your shoulders forward and you can get a stretch across the front of your hip too. Do each side.
6.) Also in standing (holding onto something for balance and maybe not in your skirt and high heels, ladies!), bend your knee and reach back to bring your foot toward your rear end to stretch your quads. Try to keep your bent knee close to your straight knee and stand up straight. Stretch each side.
After a few days of regularly doing these stretches throughout your workday, see how your body feels! Your posture should be a little better and you might have less general soreness from being in a single position for such a prolonged period of time every day. Stay loose and stretch frequently, even at work!
Dr. Lingerfelt is a Physical Therapist at Boston Sports Medicine