3 stretches to cure a sedentary workday

Is your desk job putting your body out of business? Computers contribute to sedentary habits, and the majority of our workday is spent in front of one. Walking to a coworker’s cubicle has been replaced by instant messaging, and stretching your legs during your afternoon lunch break has been substituted with feasting while firing off emails.  We all know that sedentary living is a hazard to your health, so I’ve created a simple, effective stretch routine to help you stand up, unplug and power up at the office.

Back Hyperextension

I don’t know about you, but something strange happens when I am working on my computer.  When I start, my body is in an upright position, with both shoulders relaxed  - like an evolved human being.  Around the half-hour mark, my upper body begins to mutate into a hybrid looking creature - my neck is extended like a crane and my shoulders are hunched forward like Quasimodo. It’s like a scene from Poltergeist, where I am being sucked into my computer.

A quick way to relieve the build up of neck and shoulder stress is to stand up and stretch. Start by placing both hands on your lower back, with the fingers facing each other.  Slowly lean back as far as possible and hold for several counts.  Keep your eyes open during this stretch to maintain balance.  Return to the upright position and repeat this stretch 8-10 times.


Open Chest Stretch

When the upper body is tired, or stressed, we tend to slouch.  Poor posture sets off a series of symptoms such as tension headaches, a stiff neck and, over time, rounded shoulders.  Furthermore, our breathing becomes shallow because our posture does not promote a clear, open airway.

Fix your form by sitting back in your chair and lacing the fingers behind the head.  Take a deep breath as you pull the elbows back, squeezing the shoulder blades together, and expand the thorax (the area between the neck and abdomen).  A good tip for checking the depth of your breath is to watch your belly.  Shallow breaths cause the chest to rise, while deep breaths draw in enough air to expand your abdomen.  Continue for 20 slow counts.


Figure 4 Hip Stretch

Standing desks are a hot topic in the health industry.  Sitting for prolonged periods of time negatively impacts blood circulation, strains back muscles and tightens hip flexors.  Help your hips by practicing a figure four stretch that can be performed conveniently at your desk. 

Start by placing both feet flat on the ground and cross the right leg over the left.  The thighs should have enough space between them to form a triangle at the knee.  Gently press down on the right knee until the leg is parallel to the floor.  If lack of flexibility prohibits you from reaching this position, try to get as close to the image as possible.  Hold for 20-30 seconds, then repeat on the opposite side.


Stretches throughout your day helps keep the aches and pains away.


This article originally appeared on philly.com