Stop what you’re doing and check your posture. Like most people, you’re probably sitting with your neck protruding forward, shoulders hunched, and body relaxed into a slump. Now, take a deep breath and push your chest forward while you bring your shoulders back and chin up so it’s level with the floor. Exhale, but keep that same posture.
If you spend long periods of time sitting during the week, you have probably noticed that your neck, shoulders and lower back might be feeling a little tight. Studies have shown that it’s not adverse effects that come with prolonged sitting, but when work requires you to be front of a computer, there’s not much you can do to avoid it. Unfortunately, it’s one of the main reasons you might be a little sore or stiff at the end of the day.
Thankfully, there are some stretches you can do to help your body release tension and counteract some of the aches of being desk-bound. Keep in mind that being in pain is a sign that you need to go see a physician to get some professional help, but if you’re just experiencing a some noticeable discomfort or uneasiness, then these stretches might be able to make a difference.
Leaning forward to look at a computer screen not only puts a strain on your upper back, it can also make your neck muscles feel tired and sore from supporting the weight of your head. To reduce some of the uneasiness, try rotating your neck counterclockwise. Begin with your chin down, circle your head until your ear is over your shoulder, and keep going until you return to the beginning position. Repeat this five times before going in the other direction.
Without realizing it, your shoulders will often start to creep up towards your ears when you’re stressed, anxious, or focusing on something. To create more space between your neck and shoulders, take a deep breath and intentionally release your shoulders. Drop your neck to the left side and use your right hand to gently press on your head to stretch the side of your neck. Hold for 20 seconds and the repeat on the right side, using the left hand to stretch the muscle.
Loosen up your shoulders by rotating them in a circular motion forward for 20 seconds and then backwards for 20 seconds. Use gentle, fluid movement and try to utilize the full range of motion by rotating slowly and deliberately. This will help improve circulation and warm up muscles that can cause stiffness and inflexibility in the upper back as well.
After a few hours in the same position, you might find that you’re sitting with your shoulders forward and your chest concave. To fix this, try standing up and clasping your hands together behind your back. Take a deep breath and push your chest out as you exhale, arching your back to enhance the stretch. As you inhale, return to your normal standing position. You can repeat the stretch as many times as needed.
Chair Spinal Twists
Lower back pain is one of the most common complaints among people who sit for long periods of time. One way to help with this is to stretch the spine to increase flexibility and release any tightness and stress. Sit in a chair with both feet flat on the floor and twist your torso to the left as you exhale, using the back of the seat to deepen the stretch. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds and release before repeating on the right side.