Stretching at your Desk or Computer
Here’s the top 5 stretching exercises you can do while sitting at your desk or in front of a computer.
by Brad Walker | First Published May 15, 2006 | Updated September 11, 2017
If you’re sitting for long periods of time behind a desk, computer or steering wheel the muscles in your shoulders, neck and upper back can really tighten up. The following information, and stretching exercises, will help you stay loose, supple and tension free.
Why is Stretching Important?
By placing particular parts of your body in certain positions, you’re able to increase the length of your muscles. As a result, a reduction in general muscle tension is achieved and your normal range of movement is increased.
The benefits of an extended range of movement includes: increased comfort; a greater ability to move freely; and a lessening of your susceptibility to muscle and tendon strain injuries.
Along with an extended range of movement, a regular stretching program will also help to improve posture; develop body awareness; improve co-ordination; promote circulation; increase energy; and improve relaxation and stress relief.
What else can you do?
Before we move onto the specific stretching exercises that will help you relieve pain and tension from sitting for long periods of time, let’s have a look at some other techniques you can use.
- Move around: Get up and move around at least every hour. This will help to promote circulation and get the blood flowing to the muscles that need it most.
- Drink plenty of water: Water is an important component of just about every function that takes place within your body. It helps your body eliminate toxins and waste products; it helps to maintain proper muscle tone; it cushions joints; and it helps transport nutrients and oxygen throughout the body.
- Deep breathing: Many people unconsciously hold their breath, which causes tension in our muscles. To avoid this, remember to breathe slowly and deeply throughout the day. This helps to relax our muscles, promotes blood flow and increases the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to our muscles.
How to Stretch?
To follow are a few rules and guidelines to help you get the most from your stretching and ensure you stay safe and injury free. If you’re interested in a more detailed report, click on the following for an in-depth article on the rules for safe stretching.
- Firstly, make a general review of the area to be stretched. If the muscle group being stretched isn’t 100% healthy avoid stretching this area altogether. For example, if you have a neck injury, don’t do neck stretches.
- Secondly, do all your stretches gently and slowly, and avoid bouncing or any jerky movements. This will help to reduce muscle tears and strains that can be caused by rapid, jerky movements.
- And lastly, stretch ONLY to the point of tension. Stretching is not an activity that was meant to be painful; it should be pleasurable, relaxing and very beneficial. Although many people believe that to get the most from their stretching they need to be in constant pain. This is one of the greatest mistakes you can make when stretching.
What to Stretch?
Below are a few stretches that can be performed in a seated or standing position, which will help to relieve tension around your shoulders, neck and upper back. The following stretches should be held for at least 20 to 30 seconds and then repeated 2 to 4 times.
Above Head Chest Stretch: Sit upright and interlock your fingers. Bend your arms and place them above your head while forcing your elbows and hands backwards.
Reverse Shoulder Stretch: Stand upright and clasp your hands together behind your back. Keep your arms straight and slowly lift your hands upwards.
Sitting Neck Flexion Stretch: While sitting on a chair, cross your arms over and hang on to the chair between your legs. Let your head fall forward and then lean backwards.
Lateral Neck Stretch: Look forward while keeping your head up. Slowly move your ear towards your shoulder while keeping your hands behind your back.
Rotating Neck Stretch: Keep your shoulders still and your head up. Slowly rotate your chin towards your shoulder.
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Get back to the activities you love. Whether it’s enjoying your favorite sport, or walking the dog, or playing with the grand kids. Imagine getting out of bed in the morning with a spring in your step. Or being able to work in the garden without “paying-for-it” the next day.
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About the Author: Brad is often referred to as the "Stretch Coach" and has even been called the Stretching Guru. Magazines such as Runners World, Bicycling, Triathlete, Swimming & Fitness, and Triathlon Sports have all featured his work. Amazon has listed his books on five Best-Seller lists. Google cites over 100,000 references to him and his work on the internet. And satisfied customers from 122 countries have sent 100's of testimonials. If you want to know about stretching, flexibility or sports injury management, Brad Walker is the go-to-guy.