One of the most lethal and medical cost inducing object’s in a person’s daily life is the “chair.” Various biomedical and life science studies have shown that the majority of Americans sit for an average of 10-13 hours throughout the day. Even though the human body is not designed to sit for extended periods of time, our culture continues to re-engineer work areas, school environments, homes, and public spaces in ways that decrease human movement and muscular activity even more. Overall, increasing sedentary behavior, which has been proven to be a foundational cause for obesity, diabetes, hypertension, stress levels, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, migraines, metabolic dysfunctions, cardiovascular diseases and many other major health issues.
You may feel a little awkward at first doing stretches in your work environment, but it is extremely beneficial for your overall health! Standing up and walking around the office to break up the workday is highly beneficial and performing a few stretches every hour for 5-10 minutes will provide an added benefit. It will help mobilize the joints, stretch out overly tight muscles, relieve tension, reduce built up stress, burn a few extra calories, maintain muscle strength, increase neuromuscular activity, increase tendon and ligament integrity, stabilize the spine and pelvis, and most importantly decrease the risk of developing detrimental muscular imbalances. Here are a few stretches that can easily be implemented into your work day:
Lateral Neck Stretch: First shake your head slowly, yes and no. Then perform a couple complete neck rolls in both directions, really focusing on releasing mental and physical tension. Next, clasping onto the right side of your head, slowly draw the left ear down to the left shoulder. Think of dropping the right shoulder away from the right ear, so that you are feeling a long stretch along the entire right side of the neck. Hold for 20-30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
Chest Opener: The pectoral muscles of the chest gradually become shorter in length and tighter, from poor desk posture. Therefore, it is important to open up the chest by clasping the hands behind the head, with the elbows pointing out to the sides and pull the shoulder blades together as you maintain a forward gaze.
Standing Calf Stretch: Calf muscles are typically extremely tight from lack of physical activity. In addition to those who wear high heels, which causes the calf muscles to be in a continual contracted/shortened state from being in plantar flexion. Therefore, it is important to stretch out the calf muscles! Begin by standing about three feet away from a wall, placing one foot further back behind you ensuring the toes are facing forward. Keep your heel on the ground as you slowly lean forward bending into the front knee while the back knee stays straight. Hold this for 30 seconds, and then slightly bend the back knee and hold for another 30 seconds to stretch the deeper of the two calf muscles.
Low Back Stretch: Either start by sitting at the edge of your chair, or in a standing position with the back of your chair a few feet in front of you. Next, begin rounding the spine from the top down by dropping the chin to the chest and moving all the way down to the ground, or resting the hands on the back of the chair in front of you. Breathe into the stretch, holding for 30 seconds. When you are finished gradually roll up to an upright position.
Seated Hip Opener: Start by sitting up nice and tall in your chair. Next take one foot and draw it up, placing it on top of the opposite knee, allowing that lifted knee to fall open. You should feel your hip opening up and releasing lots of tension. The key here is to not force the hip open; therefore, allow gravity to slowly open the knee more to the side or if you know you can go deeper apply slight pressure on the inside of the knee pushing it more open and down. Hold in this position for 20-30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
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