You work at a computer. You know the drill: tight neck, traps, hips, hamstrings….well, tight everything. But you don’t have to be tight! Here are 10 stretches you can implement NOW to keep your body feeling good that require nothing more than your body and a chair, desk, or wall.
If your neck or traps are tight and/or you experience frequent headaches from stress-typing at your keyboard all day, try…
Neck stretch with chair:
Sit up straight with your shoulders rolled down and back. Make sure to keep your chest up: LOUD AND PROUD! Grab the side of your seat to anchor yourself and tilt your head the opposite direction until you feel a stretch through your neck and trap. Slowly roll your head back and forward, maintaining the tilt, to shift the stretch around through your neck as you please. Hold for 30 seconds, thinking about deepening the stretch on the exhale, and repeat on the other side.
Sit on the edge of your chair. Arch your lower back and squeeze a book or pillow between your legs to keep your hips squared throughout the movement. Roll your shoulders down and back, keeping your chest up. Tilt your head to the side until you feel a stretch, and then turn your head to look down at your shoulder, deepening the stretch. Repeat on the other side. Do 20 total reps, 10 to each side.
If your chest and/or shoulders are tight from hunching forward at your desk all day, try…
Chest, lat and shoulder stretch on desk:
Scoot your chair back so you have a clearing of about a foot between you and the edge of your desk. Cross your arms over each other on the edge of your desk grabbing opposite wrists. Keeping your spine straight, belly relaxed, press your head and chest down through your arms. Actively press down through your chest to deepen the stretch. The further back your chair is the deeper you’ll be able to go in this stretch. Hold for 1 minute.
If you need a deeper stretch you can perform this kneeling on the floor in front of your chair, arms on the seat of your chair instead of the edge of your desk. The further away your knees are from the chair the deeper the stretch will be.
Chest & shoulder stretch w/ hands clasped behind back:
Standing up or sitting on the edge of your chair, clasp your hands, palms together, behind your back. Pressing your chest up, pull your hands away from your body as far as you can. You’ll feel a big stretch through your chest, shoulders, and your t-spine. You might even get some nice popping!
If your glutes and/or hips are tight from sitting on your butt at your desk (or the TV) all day, try…
Crossed legs piriformis stretch:
Sitting up straight on the edge of your seat, cross one ankle over the opposite knee. Keeping a rigid spine, hinge forward from the hips until you feel a stretch in the glute of your elevated leg. Hold for 30 seconds, deepening the stretch on the exhale, and repeat on the other side.
Half pigeon on desk:
Standing in front of your desk (or chair if you have very limited lower body mobility), place one leg on the desk with your shin perpendicular to your body. Try to keep your knee against the desk. Keeping your spine straight, put your hands on the desk in front of your leg and hinge forward from the hips until you feel a big stretch in the glute of your elevated leg. If you’re able, go down to your elbows to deepen the stretch. If you can’t get your hands to the desk, don’t try to bend your spine to reach; just stand without using your hands.
If your back and/or t-spine are tight from doing a brutal WOD and then sitting at your desk all day with tight hips, try…
T-spine & shoulder mobility with wall:
Sit on the floor with your butt and back flat against the wall, legs out straight in front of you. Squeeze an object between your ankles to keep your hips active and flex your toes toward your face. Roll your shoulders down and back and clasp your hands together in front of you. Lock your arms, and without allowing your shoulders or spine to shift, bring your hands up as high as you can (aiming to touch the wall above your head). Bring your arms back to your starting position, keeping them locked out the whole range of motion. You should feel tension at the top of the movement. Repeat 20 times for 1-2 sets.
Standing with your arms straight and your hands flat against a wall, feet hip width, stick your butt out behind you and drop your chest, keeping your legs locked, until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. In this position inhale and press your spine down as your “cow,” feeling a stretch through your chest and abdomen. Exhale and arch your spine up toward the ceiling as your “cat,” feeling a contraction in your abdomen and a stretch in your back. Repeat 20 times.
Standing up straight, bend your knees and lock your fingertips underneath your toes, palms facing your legs. Straighten your legs as much as you can and press your tailbone up toward the ceiling until you feel a big stretch through your lower back region. Hold 30-60 seconds.
There’s your comprehensive list, head to shoulders to knees to toes, of easy stretches you can do anywhere (office or otherwise). But keep in mind: these stretches help manage symptoms of tension, but ultimately they won’t be the solution. You’ll need to dedicate a more consistent allotment of time to your mobility work and implement frequent breaks from your desk. Go for a 10 minute walk. Drink extra water so you have to go to the bathroom more often. Find what works for you. In the meantime, may these stretches help!