It’s a scary truth that many jobs today are sedentary jobs, meaning that most of the time you spend at the office, you spend sitting, which we’re consistently told is unhealthy.
As a writer, I share that problem with the masses, so I set out to find the best five exercises that would help me with things like circulation, neck and shoulder tension and lower back pain. Interestingly, I learned a couple of them in a writing class, some in yoga, and kind of came up with one of my own. Mind you, I am not a doctor or a certified yoga instructor. Just a writer who wants to share some timely solutions for others in the same boat.
Anyway, here are my top five. It probably won’t be a surprise to anyone that most of them are stretches since this is the best way to instantly and consistently relieve built-up tension.
- Upper Back Stretch
- Overhead Side Stretch
- Four-Way Neck Stretch
- Pectoral Stretch
- The Hippie-Hippie Shake
Upper Back Stretch: Sitting or standing, bring the right arm across the chest, then holding the elbow with the left hand gently pull, stretching the back muscles between the spine and shoulder blade. Repeat on the other side, remembering that this is a gentle stretch and not to pull too hard.
Overhead side stretch: Works best standing, but can be done from a sitting position as well. Roll the shoulders up, back, and down, then raise both hands straight overhead. Clasp hands above the head, and then gently lean left, then right. Repeat this a few times, just as long as it feels comfortable, to release tension on both sides of the back and hips.
Four Way Neck Stretch: Sitting or standing, roll shoulders up, back and down. With the back straight, gently lift the chin toward the ceiling, feeling the stretch at the front of the neck, but not crunching at the back. Return to a forward-facing position, then gently tuck chin toward the chest, being careful not to drop forehead too far forward. Return to forward facing position. Keeping shoulders and spine straight, lean head gently to the right, keeping the ear even with the shoulder. Return to upright. Repeat on the left. You can do this any time the tension starts to build up or you find yourself in the “vulture position” where your shoulders are up to your ears, and your neck is so far forward you are in danger of a hump.
Pectoral Stretch: Standing straight, roll shoulders up, back, and down to straighten. Then, clasp hands together behind the hips, fingers laced steeple style. Raise chin gently toward the ceiling, and pull gently down with the hands, opening through the chest and neck area. Repeat just a couple of times, as this is a more intense stretch, and remember that these should not be painful in any way. Any pain likely means you’re pushing too hard.
The Hippie-Hippie Shake: This one might get you some interesting looks from your coworkers, but when they see you walking around upright and not shaking out a numb leg, they’ll probably start doing it too. Turn the chair, so there is room. Stick both legs straight out and shake them briskly, being careful not to kick anyone or anything. Then lift the arms, up or out and shake them briskly. Repeat as desired for fun and increased circulation.
These five exercises, along with regular breaks and getting some steps in are sure to keep you in tip-top condition for being creative and keeping up with the demands of the office, as well as life.