If you sit in front of a computer all day, you’re setting yourself up for musculoskeletal imbalances that can become painful and movement-restricting.
Most people lean forward when they use the computer. This is not advisable since it will cause you to round your shoulders forward and hunch your back.
The solution? Discreet stretches that you can do at your desk. If you have any joint, musculoskeletal problems, or pains, consult with your doctor before doing these stretches.
Gerry Morton, CEO of EnergyFirst, suggests these desk friendly stretches:
- Chicken-wing-- Bend your elbows and raise your arms so that they’re parallel to the floor. Now pull your elbows back behind you as far as you can by tightening your back muscles. This stretches your chest.
- Neck rolls-- Tilt your head gently to the left, bringing your ear towards your shoulder, stretch and hold 10 seconds. Repeat with the right side. Then tuck your chin and pull it down to your chest, hold, then turn your head slowly to the right to look over your shoulder, hold and turn back slowly to the centre. Repeat turning to the left.
- Shoulder shrugs-- Raise your shoulders upwards and hold then let them drop down and relax.
- Reach for the sky -- lace your fingers together and turn your palms away from you. Straighten your arms and reach upwards over your head and slightly back as far as you can to increase the stretch.
- Forearm stretch-- Use one hand to press on the other hand’s palm to stretch the other hand back as if carrying a tray. Hold 10 seconds, and then do it the other way. Switch hands.
- Finger flexor-- Separate and straighten your fingers until you feel a stretch. Hold for 10 seconds. Relax, then bend your fingers at the knuckles and hold for 10 seconds.
- Rotator cuff stretch --Hold your left arm just above the elbow with the right hand. Now gently pull elbow toward opposite shoulder as you look over your left shoulder. Hold stretch for 15-20 seconds. Do both sides.
- Hamstring stretch-- Hold onto your lower leg just below the knee. Gently pull bent leg toward your chest. Hold for 30 seconds at easy stretch tension. Do both sides.
- Hip stretch-- Cross your left leg over your right, then rest elbow or forearm of right arm on the outside of the upper thigh of the left leg. Apply steady pressure toward the right with the elbow or forearm as you look over your left shoulder to increase the stretch. Do both sides for 15 seconds.
- Triceps and bicep stretch-- Arms up over your head, clasp hands together behind your head. Lean your head back into your hands and feel the stretch in your triceps. Hold 10 seconds. Then bring arms down and around, and clasp hands behind you, then rotate palms down so you feel a bicep stretch. Hold 10 seconds.
Do these stretches at least twice a day, more often if you start feeling stiff after sitting for a long time.
Proper posture at the computer is important. Sit with:
- Feet flat on the floor
- Torso facing computer, not angled away even a little bit
- Back flat
- Shoulders in a neutral position—not pulled back
- Head erect, chin at a neutral angle—not angled down
- Forearms supported by a cushion, and mouse palm with a cushion
More tips on how you can increase flexibility and reduce stiffness and pain can be found by visiting Effective Exercise.
Gerry Morton, CEO of EnergyFirst, is an experienced athlete who has competed in 30+ marathons and 4 Ironman triathlons. Gerry is an excellent source of information on nutrition, supplementation and effective exercise. Since 1997, he has been educating and motivating others on how to attain peak performance.