Feeling tense at work? Step away from the keyboard, take your eyes off the screen, and spend a few moments focusing on your body. A quick stretching break could be just what you need to feel reinvigorated. In fact, studies have shown that taking a much-needed pause can help boost your productivity (and act as a great alternative to downing an extra cup of coffee when the afternoon slump hits). Perform all of the stretches below, or pick one or two, to target any part of your body that feels tight or out of whack.
Targets: back, chest
While this stretch is typically done on all fours, you don’t have to be on the ground to lengthen and contract your muscles. Perform a modified version of the same gentle, spine-stretching sequence from your desk to help ease your body back into proper posture.
- Scoot down towards the edge of your chair so that your back isn’t resting or being propped up by the back of the chair.
- With your hands resting on your knees, inhale and hinge slightly forward allowing a small arch in your lower back. This is cow pose.
- On your exhale, round your spine and tuck your chin into your chest. This is cat pose.
- Flow between those two poses, pressing your chest out and arching your back dramatically for the “cat” pose, and then breathing out and pulling your belly button in towards your spine as you arch your back into “cow.”
You don’t have to be off the clock to make time to work your core. Squeeze in a seated oblique twist with this movement that engages your core while challenging your stabilizer muscles.
- Sit tall in your chair as you gently rotate your trunk and shoulders to one side. Grasp the outside of the corresponding leg to lean deeper into the pose.
- Hold, then repeat in the opposite direction. Each time, turn until you feel a slight stretch in your trunk.
Targets: Pectoral muscles
Open up your chest with this chair stretch that also hits your arms.
- Sit on the edge of your chair with your feet hip-distance apart and firmly planted on the ground.
- Reach your hands back to grasp the back of your chair, palms facing you.
- With a straight back, draw your bellybutton in towards your spine. Press your chest forward and keep your gaze straight ahead.
- Hold this stretch for 30-60 seconds.
Targets: deltoids (anterior, middle, and posterior)
This stretch keeps tension at bay by rolling your shoulders and mindfully relaxing your upper body.
- Sit up straight with your hands on your thighs.
- Roll your shoulders toward the front and then up to your ears, drawing them back and down while squeezing your shoulder blades together.
- Repeat for 10 repetitions before reversing direction.
Targets: neck, trapezius
You don’t have to be in yoga’s “ragdoll” pose to experience the release that comes with letting your head weigh down and your neck roll. Help relieve neck and shoulder pain with this desk-friendly modification.
- Sit up straight with your hands resting on your thighs.
- With your head tilted back and gaze towards the ceiling, rotate your head clockwise.
- Continue until you’ve made a full rotation, dropping your chin to your chest at the halfway point.
- Repeat counterclockwise. That’s one rep. Repeat 10 times.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.