Stretches to do at Your Desk
We’ve talked about the desk and the damage that sitting all day can do. In a post by Tamara Rosin, she quoted the Wall Street Journal, which stated that the number of Americans who were “totally sedentary” in 2014, or did not partake in any physical activity, rose to the highest rate in several years.
There are a few things keeping Americans in their chairs: 1. the average job is less physical and more focused on what’s happening on our laptop screens. 2. Even when at home, many Americans find it hard to unplug, spending evenings on a couch, replying to emails while catching up on whichever show they’re into right now (I still haven’t started Orange is the New Black and Game of Thrones feels a little too murder-y for me).
Think about the position you’re in as you’re sitting all day: Hips in flexion, shoulders up and forward, neck tilted forward and looking down at your laptop screen. Muscles remember what you do to them. When you hold a muscle in flexion, it gets shorter. When you keep your shoulders up and forward your neck and upper back muscles tighten, which can cause headaches.
A lot of other things happen to your body as a result, like tightness across the chest as those shoulders come forward and knots throughout that back as your pelvis tilts forward when you’re leaning forward in your chair.
The bad news: chairs, desks and laptops wreak havoc on the body. The good news: you can undo all of the knots and the tightness that desks inflict on your body.
I sat down with Delos Therapy‘s co-founder Eric Owens to talk about what the desk-dwelling population can do to combat the impact of the desk.
Eric’s first tip? Make sure you’re getting up once an hour and just take a walk to the bathroom or the water cooler. If you find yourself forgetting to get up to go to the bathroom, start drinking a lot more water and that hourly bathroom break won’t come quickly enough. Hydration and a walk? Win-win.
Eric recommended that those who experience knots in their back or neck get a lacrosse ball or a Theracane to apply pressure to those knots. At Delos, Eric and the other therapists use pressure to take hard muscle tissue – also known as knots – back to soft, healthy muscle tissue.
A lacrosse ball is a hard rubber ball that can be placed between your muscle’s knot and a hard surface so you can apply pressure to it.
A Theracane allows one to reach knots and apply pressure without having to lean against a wall or lay on a floor.
In conjunction with the pressure that you’re applying to the muscles, you can also lengthen those muscles with stretches. Eric stressed that lengthening through stretching is great, but not nearly as effective for knots as pressure.
To lengthen those hip flexors, you can get into a runner’s lunge stretch on the floor. Make sure you’re tilting your pelvis forward. To get deeper into the stretch, you can take your hands up over head.
Stretch out your quadriceps by keeping your knees together and grabbing ahold of your foot or ankle with your hand on the same side as the leg you’re stretching.
To stretch out that upper back and your shoulders, take one straight arm across your chest and pull that arm closer to your chest with your other arm.
Stretch the side of your neck as well as some of your shoulder and back muscles (it all works together) by gently pulling your head to one side to lengthen the neck muscles on the opposite side.
Stretch your upper back and neck muscles by tilting your chin down towards your chest and gently stretching by applying pressure with your hands.
If you’re feeling all knotted up or you’re experiencing pain as you exercise, you can also give Delos Therapy a try in Chicago. Learn more here.
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