Most of us spend long hours sitting at our office desks hunched behind a computer. Reebok has released a survey according to which we spend about an astonishing 7,709 hours of our life sitting.
Long hours of sitting combined with unhealthy habits such as slouching, bending your head forward, repetitive clicking and many more have led to musculoskeletal problems in recent years. These lead to long-term health implications such as neck, shoulder and lower back pain.
Undoubtedly, there are a lot of prevalent solutions like joining physical training classes, or sports, or yoga. While the one-two hours you spend going to these classes definitely help, the benefits are overshadowed by excessive sitting.
That’s why we’ve listed five simple and efficient exercises you could try at your desk to minimise your stress and boost your focus.
1. Chair-seated pigeon pose (Glute stretch)
Put both your feet flat on the floor while sitting on your chair. Make sure that there is a 90-degree angle between the thighs and the shins. In that position, lift your right leg and put your right foot on the chair in a folded knee position. Then slowly bring your right foot on the top of your left knee while your right knee and the right foot are at the same level from the ground. You should feel a stretch at the outer right thigh. Now bend towards the ground and try to touch the floor with both hands. Take a few deep breaths in this position and slowly get back to the neutral position sitting in your chair. Now, switch sides and do the same with the other leg.
2. Seated twist on chair
Sit on the edge of your chair and but both feet flat on the floor. Put your left hand on the right of your right knee. Twist slowly to the right, keeping your legs fixed and try to hold the leftmost end of the chair from behind. Stay in this position by taking a few deep breaths and then return to your neutral position, before switching sides. It is advised to rest a bit between repetitions.
Caution: For absolute beginners with a history of lower back pain, it is advised to start very slowly and go as far as possible without any discomfort caused due to an existing injury. Also, try to keep your back straight.
3. Shoulder and chest stretch
Grab a towel/cloth or the like at both ends. With the towel firmly held on, retract your shoulders, and try to rotate both your arms backwards. Go all the way to complete a semi-circle, till your arms are holding the towel close to the back of your thighs. Repeat by rotating them all the way back to where they were. You should feel a stretch in your shoulder blades and chest. If you don’t have a towel, you can do the same by clasping both palms together. However, in that case, you most likely cannot go all the way so go as far as you can.
Bonus exercise: You could also find a door at your office, and stand facing your back towards the open door. Now, grab both the door stiles and move forward a little so that your hands are stretched out. Retract your shoulders and then feel the stretch in your chest. Go back to your standard position and repeat the exercise.
4. Hamstring and back stretch
Stand with your front side in front of your desk. Gently touch the front edge of the desk with both your palms, shoulder-width apart and then keep walking backwards and leaning forward until your back is parallel to the floor. Feel the stretch in your back (keeping it parallel to the floor) and stay there for a few breaths. Next, try to move forward, facing upward and keeping your palms and foot fixed. Slowly open your chest by retracting your shoulders. Go all the way until your body forms an arc with your chest protruded outward and your view towards the ceiling. Stay in this position for a few breaths before getting back to your initial position.
Extra caution: If you have never done yoga before, its advised to only perform the first part of the stretch. Make sure that your back is straight and parallel to the floor. Also, it is important to retract your shoulders as far as possible before performing the second part of the stretch to prevent injury caused due to sudden pressure on the joints. Once a set of both stretches are completed, pause for a few seconds before moving on to the next.
5. Wrist stretch
Join your palms together at the front of your chest, similar to a “Namaste” greeting. Make sure both palms are facing each other and the inner ends of your palms are touching your chest, with your elbows moving out. Now slowly move your hands from your chest to your stomach, keeping your palms together. Go as far as possible until you feel a stretch in your wrists. Stay in that position for a few seconds before getting back to your initial position.
Bonus tip: For a better stretch and challenge, try doing the same at your back instead of your chest.
Want to develop healthier habits for body and mind, better manage your stress and avoid burnouts? Make sure to join our 2018 Annual Conference: 360° Health on 6 October 2018 at Impact Hub Amsterdam. Also keep an eye out on our Facebook page and LinkedIn pages. Over the coming weeks we will be posting tips and tricks, good reads and scientific insights with regards to health.