Do you sit at a desk at work during the day? How good is your posture? Are you like 90% of people who need to work on their posture? Here I will give you three stretches you can do at your desk during the day. What I tell my clients to do is set a timer on your phone for every 2 hours so that you can remember to do the stretches. You don't need to do these stretches for 10 minutes, more like 1 to 2 minutes just to relieve that bad posture you might be having while sitting at your desk all day.
The first stretch I'm going to tell you about is simple. If you are sitting and facing your desk, place your hands on the top of the desk/table. Your hands should be about shoulder width apart. If that is uncomfortable don't be afraid to make your hands wider apart, especially if you have tight shoulders like me. From here stretch your arms out way in front of you. Then separate your feet a little wider than hip distance apart with your feet flat on the floor. Next, send your hips back in the chair so that your spine has some room to stretch forward. Now you are in a modified downward facing dog with your hands on the table in front of you. Your hands should be completely flat on the table. Extend your spine long to get a nice stretch in the back. Then you can pull your stomach off your thighs to active your core. Once you have your core engaged try and let your chest sink towards the floor. Some of you might not be able to do this step and that is fine. Just trying to get your arms straight might be a challenge. Do what you can and stay with it for 5 deep relaxing breaths.
The second stretch comes next. When you have completed the 5 breaths, push into your hands, with your core still engaged, and slide the chair in by squeezing your heels into the ground. Continue to lift your spine up nice and tall until your chair is all the way back in. Keep pushing into the hands with the arms straight, pull your shoulder blades down your back to get some lift through the front of your chest. Your spine should be straight meaning your shoulders are over your hips. This is a modification of a Pilates spine stretch. You want to think about creating space in each vertebrae to elongate the spine while giving some resistance with the shoulders and hands pushing down. Remember to keep your core engaged while doing this to ensure better posture. Think about pushing the table down as you keep lifting through the crown of your head. Take 5 deep breaths here while keeping your stomach engaged.
The last stretch flows right into the previous one. While you are in the modified Pilates spine stretch, keep your gaze forward and slightly up. From this starting point take a deep breath in and hold it turning your head as far to the right over your shoulder and then across to the left and then back through the middle to exhale. Then do the same thing but start turning your gaze over the left shoulder, then the right, then looking center before the exhale. When you are turning your head you don't want to do it too fast. Hold your gaze to the side for about 2 seconds before going to the opposite side and holding that for 2 seconds then return back to the middle to exhale. Also while you are doing this stretch try and think about keeping the shoulders stable. Make sure they are not turning with you as you shift your gaze (turning your head) over each shoulder. Once you have completed about 2 rounds of that stretch you are done.
In total those three stretches should not have taken you more than 2 minutes. These are such great stretches to relieve any back pain or discomfort you may be having while sitting at your desk during work. This will also help you with better posture when you are sitting at your desk all day. Please comment and let me know if you did them at work or at home and how you felt when you were doing them or after.
*Bonus stretch! This stretch is better known as cat/cow. What you will do for this exercise is to start sitting up nice and tall with good posture in your chair. Place your hands on the tops of your knees. Then push into your knees with yours hands and arms straight to round your spine back into the chair. Keeping your hands where they are and activating the backs of your arms (triceps) find a stretch in your low back. Make sure to drop the shoulders away from your ears so you don't create any tension in the neck. The next part to this stretch is arching the back. So once you are back up through a nuetral spine place your hands on either side of the back of the chair and hold on. You can place your hands low so that it is more comfortable for your shoulders. From here push your chest forward creating an arch in your upper back - not your lower back- and keeping the arms straight if you can. Again, trying to relax the shoulders away from the ears and keep your gaze looking up. You don't want to let your head go too far back, you don't want to injur your neck. You can hold each of these stretches for about 2 breaths before switching between them. I would do cat/cow 3 times each to get a nice front and back stretch of my body.