Do you suffer from computer hunchback?

computer hunching

A desk potato in her natural habitat.

I do.  I spend roughly 8-10 hours a day in front of my computer reading and writing.

Considering I didn’t have great posture to begin with, this has not helped me to keep the kinks at bay.

We’re living in the age of desk potatoes, which means many of us are no strangers to neck and back pain.

At the Wikidi office, project teams are encouraged to get up and step away from their desks throughout the day to recharge, especially when the mid-day slump swoops in to sap our energy. We even have a colleague who gives a short 10-15 minute Tai Chi class in the afternoon for people that are interested.

tai chi at wikidi

Afternoon Tai Chi on the back patio

But you don’t have to have access to office Tai Chi to fit in some deep breathing and muscle movement to help bring your energy back and combat stiffness (not to mention, all the other possible health problems caused by sitting).

Bring on the “Deskercise”!

But first…what’s so great about stretching?  

If you’re anything like me, your muscles are probably not getting all the TLC they deserve. While many of us might think of stretching as a complement to working out, it’s actually just as vital as regular exercise. The benefits are numerous for both the body and mind, and popular exercise methods such as pilates and yoga utilize stretching heavily.

So what’s the big fuss about stretching?

It’s good for the body.

  • It improves flexibility.
  • Helps correct your bad posture.
  • Reduces muscle soreness from work and exercise.

And it’s not so bad for your mind either. 

  • Gives your mind a break and helps you re-focus.
  • Leaves you feeling refreshed and can boost productivity.

What’s not to love?

Below I’ve shared a few of my favorite office-friendly stretches that don’t require an instructor or a change of clothes. You don’t even have to leave your chair!

1) Stretch out your upper arms

I love doing this periodically throughout the day to get rid of tension in the back of my upper arm and shoulder. Lift one arm and bend it behind your head. Use your other hand to gently pull your elbow towards the opposite shoulder.

upper arm stretch

Upper arm stretches loosen up shoulder knots.

Hold this position for 10-15 seconds and then, repeat the stretch with your other arm.

2) Get rid of shoulder knots with Eagle Arms

Ease shoulder knots with Eagle Arms. Stand with your arms out to your side with your palms facing up. Bend your elbows to 90 degree angles and slowly bring your arms inwards. Cross your right elbow over your left until the backs of your hands touch, and then hook your left hand over your right so that your fingers are touching the palm of your right hand.

eagle arms yoga stretch

Eagle Arms yoga relieves shoulder knots.

Hold for two breaths and then, do it a second time crossing your left elbow on top.

It’s sounds and looks more complicated then it actually is, but I found the video below really helpful:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IM3npVNcl8

3) Reach for your toes and get rid of back tension

Remaining seated, straighten your legs and reach for your toes. Hold for 20-30 seconds.

back stretch

Reach for your toes to relieve back tension.

You can also stand up and keep your feet hip-distance apart and fold over your legs. Bend your knees if your hamstrings feel tight. Hold for 20-30 seconds. I also like to bend my knees and then slowly straighten them a few times over a few breath cycles.

4) A chest opener helps loosen up the computer hunch

Standing or sitting, clasp your hands behind your back in a fist. Push your chest outwards and lift your hands as high as you can behind you and pull your shoulder blades together.

chest opener stretch

Fight concave computer chest with a chest opener.

Hold for 15-30 seconds. Relax back to your starting position and repeat.

5) Relieve stiffness with neck stretches

Sit upright or stand with both of your feet hip-width apart. Tilt your head slowly to the right towards your shoulder while reaching towards the floor with your left hand. Take three deep breaths. Don’t bring your shoulder up to your ear. Repeat on your left side.

neck stretch

Take your time and be gentle with your neck.

Remember to go slowly and only do what feels good!

6) Use shoulder circles to strengthen your shoulder joint

Sit or stand and hold your core tight. Inhale and lift your left shoulder slowly towards your ear. Exhale and roll your shoulder around and back. Repeat on the right. Alternate sides slowly 4 times. Finish up by rolling both shoulders together 4 times.

 

shoulder circles

Loosen up your shoulders and strengthen your shoulder joints.

Make a point to take time at work to stretch every day and don’t feel awkward – you’ll feel the benefits over time and your muscles will thank you for the stretching breaks. Get rid of the slouch and re-energize!

What’s your favorite stretch to do at the office? 

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