From the February 2021 Mercy Occupational Medicine eNewsletter
Let’s face it, we’re all spending lots more time at our desks these days. Sitting at a desk for 8+ hours per day can cause strains of the neck, shoulders and lower back. However, incorporating yoga style stretches can help relieve tension and stress from all that sitting. Here are some yoga style poses to help you release those stresses and minimize strains.
- Stand up: Standing desks are all the rage for a reason! Not only does your body work slightly harder to stand versus sitting, but it will also keep your shoulders upright, hips looser and core more engaged.
- Neck rolls: Start with your head at neutral and tip your head to the right or left before circling backward and then returning to neutral. This dynamic movement relaxes and stretches your neck muscles and your cervical spine!
- Personal massage: You can deepen this stretch by spending a bit of extra time with your head tipped to the right or left. Use your fingers to gently press down (like you’re playing the piano) on your neck.
- Seated or standing side bend: You can do this in your chair or on your feet! Reach your hands up overhead and grab your left wrist with your right hand and bend to your right, feeling the stretch through the left side of your body. Come back to neutral, switch your hands and bend to your left. Remember to keep your shoulders square. The more you fill your lungs, the better the stretch you’ll feel through your side.
- Wrist and forearm stretch: Standing up, place both your hands on your desk with your fingertips pointing toward your body and your palms down. Your elbow pits should be pointed away from you. If you want to intensify the stretch, lean backward while keeping your palms flat on the desk.
- Seated spinal twist: With your hips square in front of you, twist your torso to the left and right looking over your shoulder. You can grab onto your chair for some added pressure.
- Cat/cow: Throw it back to yoga class! Place your palms face down on the table in front of you. Take a deep breath in as you pull your shoulders down and back, pressing your chest forward between your shoulders. As you breathe out, roll your shoulders forward and round through your upper back.
- Seated figure 4: Cross your right leg over your left quad and place your ankle just above your knee. Keep your back flat and your shoulders strong as you lean forward, bringing your chest as close to your legs as possible. Come up to neutral and switch sides.
- Standing pigeon: Another yoga favorite, you can use your desk to get into a standing pigeon pose! Bring one leg up to the desk and make sure your shin is parallel to the front of your desk. Lean forward as much as needed to feel the stretch through your hip. You may feel this in your glute as well and/or the hip flexor of your posted leg.
- Standing or seated forward fold: This one can be done sitting in your chair or from a standing position. With your feet planted on the floor, bend forward as far as you can, reaching for your toes.
- IT band stretch (crossing feet): From a standing position, cross one leg over the other and plant it back on the floor. Bend forward the same way you did in the standing forward fold. You should feel this through the outside of your crossed leg.
- Ankles ABCs or point and flex: While seated, keep your ankles moving by spelling words, writing your ABCs or pointing and flexing your toes!